Yonela Ngqoko: I Have Learnt That Young Black Girls Are Most Vulnerable and Their Stories Are Not Being Told

By Zintle Tsheme 

Yonela Ngqoko is an enthusiastic and inspiring woman born and bred in Sigidini Location, Emaxesibeni, formally known as Mount Ayliff in the Eastern Cape.

People who know her quite well call her by her clan name, “Bhelekazi”. Her journey of being interested in the media began at a young age of 12,

inspired by the likes of Mr Siyavuya Sineke, who is a news reader on SABC 1 isiXhosa news. “Growing up watching Mr Siyavuya Sineke inspired me to follow that career path”, said Yonela, who now has a National Diploma in Journalism, acquired at the Nelson Mandela University. 

She now works at Kumkani FM a community radio station, in Scenery park East London and believes that being on radio has enabled her to be the voice for the voiceless, and has granted her the opportunity to tell untold stories and to educate and inform people of the current circumstances we live in. 

She is the Head of the News Department at Kumkani FM and says the role is challenging, as it is her first time. “It was challenging at first, having to deal with different behaviours and people who don’t understand the journalism ethics, but now it’s worth it, I have learnt a lot, grown in both my position, and as a person” said Ngqoko. 

Her Hobbies include reading and travelling. She believes that every young person should take reading in your spare time seriously, as it teaches you a lot, while allowing you to relax. She believes that knowledge is power, the 
more you read, the more you increase your knowledge. “The more you read educational content, the more you feed your mind, the more you grow in language, and see things in a different perspective,” she said. 

Yonela considers herself a people’s person, a person who has been granted an opportunity to change young black woman’s lives in particular for better. When asked why she felt the need to help young black woman, she said, “Through the journey of being an investigative journalist, working in the rural areas, I have learnt that young black girls are the most vulnerable group, and that their sad stories are not being told nor considered valid.” 

Early this year, Yonela established her own campaign called “Help a rural girl child”, which focused on donating sanitary towels to rural schools around Emaxesibeni, and later became known as the “Hope for Girls Foundation. This idea came about after she did research on more than 10 schools in Alfred Nzo regarding the large numbers of girls who fail to attend school or drop out due to the lack of finances, specifically money to purchase sanitary towels. Such disadvantages have led to young girls losing 
confidence in themselves, having to use old cloths as substitutes. “I therefore took into myself with my home friend, Linda Mveku to raise 5000 packs of Sanitary towels and donate them to schools, that is when the vision to do more began. The aim of the foundation is to make sure that no girl child would miss out on school because they’re on their period, she said. 

Every year the National Community Radio Forum holds the National Community radio week in Bloemfontein, where all community radio stations compete for being the best in positions like Broadcasting, News anchors, documentaries and content broadcast. In 2017, Yonela was nominated for the Best Radio Documentary category for her documentary about the role Mama Winnie 
Madikizela Mandela played, looking at her life, her visiting her homestead called Mbongweni in Mbizana. And this is how people came to know of the focused, inspiring Yonela Ngqoko. 

When asked what advice would she offer to young black girls, who are struggling to see beyond circumstances, she said, “Everything has its own time, one needs to focus and never compare themselves with anyone else. Above all, stay humble and true to yourself and always remember hard work pays.” 

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