Durban - Dr Lindiwe Sidali has made history by becoming the first African female cardiothoracic surgeon in the country.
A doctor for 10 years, Sidali, 35, described her journey as both challenging and enlightening.
"I became aware that I was an African female in a speciality that is famously known for being a male dominated and I learnt to embrace who I am and what I represent.
"It’s been challenging but it’s also been a great adventure, and I could not have done it without the support of the amazing people that I had by my side."
Describing herself as a "small town girl" Sidali was born and raised in the Eastern Cape.
After matriculating from Rakgatla High School in Wonderkop, North West she received a bursary from the North West Department of Health to study medicine in Cuba.
She said it was her parents, strong feminists who encouraged her to pursue her dreams.
"They instilled in us values that as girls we were enough to stand on our own, despite and against the odds and societal norms.
"All my siblings were treated equally. Everyone had to cook, clean, and look after cattle. The chores were the same and all of us were expected to perform at school to the best of our abilities. We were all taught about hard work."
Her inspiration to study medicine was sparked while volunteering at Wonderkop clinic.
"The nurses were wonderful in encouraging me to pursue medicine. That’s how I actually heard about the Cuban scholarship programme, so I applied and got accepted."
She said what kept her interest in medicine was the desire to serve people.
Sidali believes that in order to open doors for young people, education is key.
"That is how you truly liberate a person. But education needs money, which is why education has to be free for those who are from disadvantaged backgrounds. "
In her free time Sidali enjoys writing romantic fiction stories.
"I write under a pseudo name (only my friends know it’s me). I intend to share my writing with the world someday, but no one will ever know it’s me."
Her motto: Everything in life is possible, dream, but create a plan of action in achieving those goals.