(From left) Junior category: Jan Mogadime, Motebang Disene, Sebola Masilo Leave. Senior category: Lungelwa Kulati, Amanda Mpinga, Bulelani Kambula

In the month of June 2018, we sent a call out to writers between the ages of 13 to 25 years to write about their “Inspirational Icons and Everyday Heroes” for our writing competition. Using the lives of our late president Nelson Mandela and the celebrated Albertina Sisulu as inspiration, the competition called on participants to tell a story that celebrated an everyday hero from their own community. The story had to centre on a particular act of generosity or courage.

Participants had until 27 July to get their entries in. Then it was up to the judges to deliberate and decide on the winners – three in the Junior category (13-19 years) and three in the Senior category (20-25 years). We received some amazing entries from writers across the country, and some neighbouring countries too.

We were very moved to ‘meet’ these inspirational people through the stories we received. Many of the entries shone light on the heroism of parents, care-givers and regular folk and how often those roles go unmentioned. Some of the entries wrote about ward councillors or community leaders who are working on a daily basis to ensure that people live in harmony and are united through daily practices. It was also lovely to see what the writers themselves felt was heroic. Through their stories we were introduced to their lives, excitements, problems and passions, and we learned from the life lessons that arose.

After three rounds of judging and much discussion and debate, the six winners were selected. The Junior winners are:

Motebang Disene – Recycling with Thabang
Motebang said: “I am honoured to be chosen as the winner, it means a lot. I can now see the direction I am heading with my writing and will continue to write stories/books for my fans. I entered this competition, not only because of my talent as a writer but because I really need this money to help here and there at home – since my mom is our sole breadwinner. So this money will really, really help. I read almost every day on FunDza. I like to read stories by Fanz and the ‘Mindspace’ blog. I read, rate and comment every work I read. I love to read Tamica Mopp’s work. She really inspires me a lot. My friend is the one who introduced me to FunDza early this year. From then I got hooked and started sending my work and now I read more often. I also introduced FunDza to other two friends of mine.”

Jan Mogadime – Our Councillor, Our Hero
Jan said: “Thank you so much for selecting me. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve won a competition. I don’t know, hey, I feel like I am on another world of good things. Thank you so much for selecting me, it means so much to me. I love FunDza so much. This money I will add to the money that mom saved so that she can buy me a laptop. Finally I can publish my stories on Kindle. And again thank you so much.”

Sebola Masilo Leave – True Men Encourage Reconciliation
Sebola said: “When I received the call, I was so excited to hear that I am the winner of the completion. Even when they were telling me what is needed, I couldn’t hear them properly because of the joy that was burning inside my heart. It was a dream come true! Ever since I started writing in 2014, I never got a chance to celebrate my writing because I didn’t have a reason to. So I will use this money to buy a T-shirt and the remaining money I will save for my studies.”

And, the Senior winners are:

Bulelani Kambula – Paul the saviour
Bulelani said: “Firstly I would like to thank Alice Kone for pushing me to write this piece. Winning means the world to me, it means I’m doing something right and that encourages me to do better. Most importantly, winning means I’m better than the previous person I was, that I’m growing in my craft. It also means I was dedicated to my goal and determined to see it through. With the prize money I’ll definitely get myself a keyboard, mine is missing crucial keys and using an onscreen keyboard is not an easy task. I also read as frequent as I can on FunDza and just got my Literature Study course certificate from one of the many courses I enrolled for.”

Lungelwa Kulati – Not all heroes wear capes
Lungelwa said: “Thank you for choosing me as one of the winners. I’m overjoyed. Winning means a lot to me. I’m sure there were a lot of great entries, so being chosen as one of the winners is a great honour. I just had a baby last Friday and this prize will help a lot. Also, winning means to me that, my work as a writer is recognized and that I can be proud of myself.”

Amanda Mpinga – Inferno’s Marvel
Amanda said: “Winning means a lot to me. I wrote my entry with a lot of doubt so I was surprised to find out I have won. I intend on spoiling myself with the prize money. I read on FunDza almost every day and most of my friends and relatives have also adopted this habit because I’ve encouraged them.”

Heartfelt congratulations to the winners, as well as to those selected as highly commended entries, and all the participants. While the six winners won the cash prizes and goodie bags, we feel as if all of FunDza has won too – given that we’ve been introduced to so many amazing people and heartwarming stories.