Cape Town - Cape Flats ballet sensation Faarkhir Bestman, 10, is making waves after the Eoan Group School of the Performing Arts gave him a full scholarship to follow his dream of becoming a world-class dancer.
Faarkhir, who lives in Hanover Park with his grandmother, his mother, older brother and three younger sisters, is the only boy in his ballet and modern dance class at the Eoan Group, in Athlone.
Faarkhir said he had been dancing since he was 30 months old for his paralysed sister Akeeda, now 6. “When I dance for her, she moves in her wheelchair. She can’t talk or walk, and my ma feeds her through a pipe, but when I dance for her she understands me,” he said. “I always want to dance. That is my goal. I want to become a pro dancer.”
But he will not neglect his school work, saying his favourite subject is maths. His grandmother will always make sure he keeps his marks up.
“It’s school work, madrassa and then dance,” he explained.
He said ballet meant he needed to think about every movement he made with his body.
“You have to stretch out, otherwise you will be stiff… I practise the whole week, and also have regular dress rehearsals.”
But that’s all in the name of becoming the best.
The youngster said the support and encouragement from his friends and family kept him strong and dedicated to realising his dream.
* YOUNG cricket sensation Laura Wolvaart, 15, has made great strides in the world of female cricket.
At the age of only 11, she was selected to play for the Western Province under-19 girls’ team, and has never looked back, experiencing a meteoric rise to become one of the best young players in the province.
The Parklands College batswoman, who lives with her mother, father and brother in Milnerton, said: “I used to play with my dad since I was five, and I was always best friends with boys at school. They played cricket and liked it, and I thought I would give it a try.”
At the Cricket South Africa (CSA) under-19 National week at the end of last year Laura was the leading run scorer of the tournament, scoring a remarkable 282 runs in seven innings at an average of 94. She was also named last year’s CSA under-19 female cricketer of the year.
Laura said she was driven by a constant need for achievement. “There’s always something to achieve, whether it’s provincial colours, there’s always something to work towards. You can always become better. And it’s a really fun sport.”
Laura plays for the under-19 squad.
Discussing overcoming the stereotype of cricket being a “gentlemen’s game”, she said: “It’s normally quite funny. When I play with boys or play against them, they don’t expect me to be any good, so they’re always surprised to see I can hit the ball.”
But her academics come first, she said, adding that she wanted to become a doctor.
And with her big dreams, Laura had this to say about the importance of Youth Day tomorrow: “We should know what our rights are, and realise we have opportunities to grab.”
* LUMAI de Smidt, 21, had a dream when she started her business to see more people eat healthy food, not just because it’s healthy, but because it’s delicious.
And she feels she’s achieved this goal with her family store Spades and Spoons, run from the Plumstead family home, which follows the raw food movement.
The movement is based on the origins of ancient cultures, when people ate mostly fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts.
”They were ultimately more healthy than society today, and this has been supported by science. You get maximum nutrients, enzymes and minerals from food when it is raw. Cooking destroys the vital energy we need from food,” Lumai explained.
Preparations for their produce start every day with a number of cooks watching over dehydrators and food processors, creating vegan meals to order, or making raw supplies.
Their initiative started 10 years ago when Lumai was battling eczema and allergy-related symptoms.
In desperation, she and her mother started replacing wheat and dairy products with alternatives such as rye flour and soya milk. After much trial and error, they discovered she was allergic to dairy products.
All this inspired Lumai’s interest in healthier foods, alternative ingredients and vegan foods.
“The raw food movement isn’t just about food, it’s a way of life. It’s an environmentally conscious, sustainable, animal-friendly consumer attitude… I hope to spread an authentic message about the journey to health.”
And with mushroom walnut burgers, spicy butternut soup, coconut vegetable wraps and a natural chocolate mousse, their business is exciting health-conscious foodies.
“My dream right now is a recipe book, because I also love food photography and styling. For me, success has been helped along by people who support and believe in me. It certainly doesn’t come overnight; you need to love what you do and take all the opportunities you get to go further.”
* For extreme adventurer Monde Sitole, 24, Youth Day is about recognising that the young have the honour of creating, bettering, and inspiring change.
“Though the problems of the past have meandered and masked themselves in new rhetoric and politics, our duty is the same – to revolt in a way that awakens and inspires our people,” he said.
His love of adventure grew out of his inquisitiveness as a child, and he read books about challenges surmounted and borders crossed, and attended school aboard a ship sailing from Cape Town to Bermuda.
“The desire is so great that it envelops and totally consumes me,” he said.
The eldest of three children, Monde was born in Port Elizabeth but now lives in Cape Town.
He may be only 24, but he has already climbed Mount Everest, Kilimanjaro and Mount Elbrus. He has also travelled to Switzerland, Namibia, St Helena, Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago.
Monde was chosen by Fascinating Expedition and Adventure Talks to share his stories at Artscape in 2011, and shot a documentary with SABC2 and Penguin Films as part of Season 2 of the TV show Against All Odds.
He also started an NGO, Great African Ascents, focused on nature conservation and youth development through mountaineering, to offer an alternative to youths living in the townships.
But achieving these feats comes at a hefty price, and Sitole says his greatest challenge is often not only breaking mental boundaries, but getting to grips with funding restraints.
“South Africa hasn’t quite grasped the need to invest in the alpine and adventure as a whole, but because I have a plan, and because my dreams are not wishes… I intend to fulfil them,” he said, adding that his aim was to climb the highest mountain on every continent of the world, and to ski at the North and South poles.
* At 24, Ludwick Marishane has founded and runs Head Boy Industries, from where he markets his now patented technology DryBath, which he invented at age 17.
Born in Mangkweng, Limpopo, Ludwick moved to Cape Town to complete his BBUsSc, majoring in finance and accounting, and now lives in Observatory.
His DryBath creation – a biodegradable, moisturising, germ-killing bath-substitute lotion that requires no water – has become a lifesaver for people around the world with no access to clean water.
His clients include airlines, for use on long-haul flights, and governments, for use by soldiers in the field.
“Success takes an insane amount of optimism, learning and hard work,” he said, adding that “hard work, passion, creativity and integrity” are essential ingredients to his accomplish-ments at such a young age.
He is South Africa’s youngest patent-filer, and some of his many achievements include making the finals of the Singapore University Global Business Plan competition in 2010, and being rated as the best student entrepreneur in the world at the Global Champion of the Global Student Entrepreneurs Awards in 2011.
That same year, Google named him one of the 12 brightest young minds in the world, and last year Time magazine named him one of the “Top 30 under-30 people who are changing the world”.
Ludwick has also completed an internship at leading global investment bank Goldman Sachs.
And while he said learning to understand human nature and overcoming its limitations has and continues to be a challenge on his road to success, he overcomes it by focusing on serving others. “My family and friends are my best reminder,” he said.
“I want to leave the world a better place than how I found it, whatever that manifests itself as, and Youth Day is a constant reminder of the price paid for my education, and the reason why I didn’t drop out of UCT when things got tough.”
* DOMINIC Obojkovits, a 20-year-old gaming and programming maestro at UCT, is already a trendsetter in the world of gaming.
An only child, he was born in Vienna, Austria, but moved to South Africa with his family, attending high school in Limpopo.
Dominic said a teacher at his school, Stanford Lake College, realised his technological potential and allowed him access to programming material before it was required by the education department syllabus.
And he thrived on the new technology.
By the time he was in Grade 11, he had released an app on iTunes
Also while still in high school, he began working on a prototype for Pixel Boy – a top-down dungeon crawler game with dynamically generated stages across four acts.
One of the largest variety gaming channels on YouTube (with more than 1 million subscribers) picked up Pixel Boy for a prototype preview that lasted 15 minutes, and had 154 000 views.
After that, the world’s largest digital distributor of video games released the game for Mac, Windows and Linux.
Dominic won an Allan Gray Orbis Foundation fellowship while still in matric, and is now at UCT studying towards a BSc in game development.
“My love for gaming started at a very young age. I used to watch my cousin play Spyro on his Playstation One at age 4, and it really just developed from there. I’ve always enjoyed watching how others interact with software, and I feel it was this enjoyment which ultimately led me to create my own games,” he said.
He believes his artistic parents had a great impact on his creative thinking abilities as he developed a passion for technology and the human experience of it.
His advice to other youngsters? “If you find something that you want to do, don’t let anything or anyone stop you from doing it… no university degree or 10 years of experience is going to get you where you want to go. Where you want to go is hidden and hard to get to, and you will only get there after breaking a few hearts, especially your own… My motivation comes from a deep desire to create products which I would enjoy.”
Dominic sees a bright future for South African games development, and will continue to contribute to it with the creation of more games.