- I’m an old soul and physical books will always be my first love. I love the feel of a book, the must of old paper and the thrill of “breaking the spine” of a book when it’s still new. My home is filled with books and I love it. But the reality is that the internet has become a threat to books, but that doesn’t mean it is bad.
- The world is digital, and this is a fate we cannot avoid. I think the conversation should be what do we do with the books we already have? How can we circulate them, distribute them so that everyone has access to them? There are people in rural areas who still have no access to books, who can’t even access them online due to data being so expensive. There is a fear that libraries are going extinct and that mean job losses and loss in resources. But there are ways we can preserve books and embrace the digital age as well; we only need to find those options and tap into them.
We celebrate the achievement of women of today, who are actively doing incredible things in various fields of industry.
We talk to one of the change drivers; a groundbreaker, a creative master in the literature space in South Africa, a pilot and pioneer of creative expression.
- Who is Zimkhitha Mlanzeli, and what she stands for?
Zimkhitha is a simple girl from the Eastern Cape, currently based in Cape Town, South Africa. I am a wife, a mother, an editor, a writer, a creative facilitator, and mentor to young writers and young people. I stand for God. I stand for His people; for young people and their destinies. I stand for the fulfillment and fullness one experiences when they tap into the power of walking and living in their purpose.
- What is Lighthouse Conversations?
Lighthouse Conversations is my passion child. It’s an online platform where I host dialogues of change. We invite change makers to speak about their life stories, sharing how they survived and conquered hardship in order to live out their lives in pursuit of their purpose.
- What inspired you to start a Lighthouse Conversations?
I started Lighthouse Conversations during South Africa’s first lockdown in March 2019. When we shutdown for 21 days, I felt called to do it. Most people were in a state of panic and worry; uncertainty and anxiety filled our hearts and homes. There were others, who saw that the lockdown presented to us a time of reflection.
It was a time to slow down and assess our current situation, and to make the necessary changes to move forward. So naturally, I wanted to talk to people who have overcome difficulties in their lives, people we look up to in our communities. I wanted to hear their secrets, their strategies so that I could learn from them. And because I’m a great believer in sharing, it was fitting that I host these conversations online so that many could have access to them, and be able to glean from these encouraging stories, and use them in our own growth processes.
- What is your vision about it?
I live for legacy and so everything I am involved in is not for me only, but for those connected to me in this life. My vision is to see the Lighthouse Conversations accessed by many. It no longer is just a hobby, it’s a business in the building stages; the foundation phases. There are great and amazing lessons that we carry with us.
Not everybody will write a book, but we all have a story to share. So this platform is for stories of growth, sharing our knowledge with others so they could also believe it’s possible. I want the platform to get to a point where we can host workshops, talks and seminars about these things. I don’t want it to just end at sharing stories, I want to help equip people with the practical tools to use in their daily lives. I want people to experience transformation in their lives through this platform.
- Around the Mother City, do you have organizations who operate like a Lighthouse Conversations?
There are organizations who work with young people and I have had the privilege to work with some of them. Not many are an online though they have websites as a platform and they were also affected greatly by Covid-19 and the regulations they must adhere to. Young people were left with no safe spaces to go to, nothing to do but sit and wait it out. Schools were, and continually are, disrupted by this and nobody really knows how long it will go on for. Hopefully, we can find a way to pull together and maximize our resources so that we can be part of the solution.
- Who was the first groundbreaker you have interviewed?
The first conversation I had was Luvuyo Ngxiki, a photographer from South Africa, Gqeberha. Luvuyo is an ex-corn who found himself on the bad side of the law due to his circumstances. While in prison he changed his life, studied and opened his mind to new possibilities. He came out and started a photography business when cell phones were starting to get popular.
Even then, he pushed and progressed, and now owns one the most successful photography businesses in our country. He’s not small-time, but you’d never think he’s a mega groundbreaker by looking at him from afar. These are the kinds of people that inspire me, and having him as my first guest was the most amazing experience. I thank God for leading me to him, and that he was so open and willing to have a chat with me.
- How many leaders have you interviewed so far?
So far I have been in conversation with 7 leaders (all videos are on our YouTube page: https://bit.ly/3BeSIPt). I had to postpone about 6 interviews this year because of connectivity issues, another big drawback to this kind of platform. Data issues are real and affect us all. Because I’m a free-lancer, there has been times when I couldn’t afford to have Wi-Fi at home, and this affects consistency a lot.
- How do you choose your interviewees?
I have been speaking to everyone I am drawn to. People have made recommendations of leaders they know who “would be perfect” for conversation with me. I speak to people of different industries; sports, business, music, creatives, writers; everyone with a remarkable story of progress, hard work and the pursuit of purpose.
- Lighthouse Conversations interviews are seasonal or occasional, why is that?
In an ideal world, I would have liked to have a new episode weekly. But realities are different. Hosting a show seasonally creates an opportunity to reflect on what worked, what didn’t work, and what is necessary for the next season. This way I can see who I interviewed, how to craft my content for the future, and also take time to listen to what the audience wants to hear. The question of sustainability has been a shadow for this platform, and that’s something I would like to see eradicated. Having a sponsor is on the vision board and prayer list; a studio and a small team too.
- How has the response been from your followers?
When we first started, I would record on Zoom and post the episode on YouTube. After we started a Facebook page, we started to see a different and most surprising kind of engagement. The Facebook page has over 700 followers, and it’s growing daily.
- We live in a digital world with expensive data and poor network issues in parts of South Africa. How do you deal with these issues, especially in the middle of the show?
Lack of connectivity can be frustrating, especially when you’re in the middle of a show. My guests have been phenomenal in every situation. There was a time a guest had to switch to their Facebook page in order to host me because I couldn’t add them on the Live. Another time a guest had to go to her next door neighbor in order to get a clear line. It’s been a mess. But in all of it, the response, both from viewers and guests, has shown me how much they value the platform and what it represents. They give their time, data, and knowledge freely to a stranger, and for that I am forever grateful.
- Which social media platforms do you use and why?
We are on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. The strategy has gone back to doing the interviews on Zoom and loading them on YouTube for archiving. We use Facebook for highlights and broadcasts, perhaps some special live shows every once in a while, to drive engagement.
- You are an outstanding young woman who managed to build a profile on creative writing and literature, both online and hardcopy, tell us about your journey as the writer, editor, author, businesswoman, wife and mother?
I’m truly grateful for the marvelous life I’ve led. I’ve been writing from a young age, so when God opened a door for me in the publishing world, I was just as marveled. The experience I’ve gained as writer and editor at FunDza Literacy Trust has been the footstool of me discovering more of what was locked inside of me. I discovered a passion and natural grace for facilitation. I learned that I could design content that speaks to hundreds of young people, and I’ve encountered brilliant and vibrant young minds.
My role as a mother has been the most rewarding. My daughter is my greatest teacher and each day she teaches me something about myself. I love to see and experience her as she’s growing into an individual with loads of personality. My husband is my sounding board; my greatest supporter. Even when he doesn’t understand my radical ways, he offers sound judgement and business acumen that helps steer me in a direction that best serves me.
The businesswoman woman in me is newly awakened and there is still a lot I need to learn about my strengths and challenges. Because my work is close to my heart and being, it makes it difficult sometimes to put on a “businesswoman cap”. But in everything I do, I know success is my portion because I believe every word God has spoken over my life. And I’m excited to see what the rest of my journey has in store.
- How many books so far you have published and on which format?
I have 47 pieces of writing on the Fundz.mobi site, and they range from short stories, reflective/opinion pieces, articles, and poetry. I have a YA novel, Blood Ties, published by Cover2Cover Books, and a number of short stories published in booklet formats for different projects I’ve been involved in. All this content is on fundza.mobi and the book can be purchased via Loot.
- Which genres do prefer to write, and what languages do you use in your writing?
I’m a young person at heart, and because the bulk of my untapped resources is that of my teenage years, I write mostly for YA. My favourite genre is human-drama because it holds everything for me. I love love, so romance is up there too. I write in English and most of the short stories are translated to other languages. I am now working on a non-fiction, self-help book. It has practical tools and activities we can use daily to get “unstuck” in our creativity and spiritual lives.
These biblically based tools, with scriptural references, will help us in our daily walk with God. This book is my testimony of how God is using my gifts to serve my generation. And it’s my truest belief that when we walk in our purpose, we impact the world for good, for generations to come.
- South Africa has grown in the digital culture. What is your take on reading e-books vs physical books?
I’m an old soul and physical books will always be my first love. I love the feel of a book, the must of old paper and the thrill of “breaking the spine” of a book when it’s still new. My home is filled with books and I love it. But the reality is that the internet has become a threat to books, but that doesn’t mean it is bad.
The world is digital, and this is a fate we cannot avoid. I think the conversation should be what do we do with the books we already have? How can we circulate them, distribute them so that everyone has access to them? There are people in rural areas who still have no access to books, who can’t even access them online due to data being so expensive. There is a fear that libraries are going extinct and that mean job losses and loss in resources. But there are ways we can preserve books and embrace the digital age as well; we only need to find those options and tap into them.
- Where can we reach you when someone wants to use your services?
I am on all (except Twitter) social platforms as Zimkhitha Mlanzeli. I am working on building a website so people can access more of my offerings in creative facilitation, creative writing, speaking, and editing. I love working with people of all shapes, colour and creed, and there is always a collaboration to be done.