Home and Away – Shaka Sisulu

2012-02-04 12:26

If his listeners, fans and Twitter followers are to be believed, Shaka Sisulu may actually have a shot at the presidency.

At 32, Sisulu is a part-time radio show host and full-time philanthropist. He is also smart, witty and politically aware.

He is part of struggle royalty. His grandparents were iconic anti-apartheid couple Walter and Albertina Sisulu, and his father is Parliamentary Speaker Max Sisulu.

His maternal grandfather is former ANC treasurer-general Mendi Msimang and his aunt, Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, is a possible candidate to become South Africa’s first female president.

Born in Germany, his family moved to the Russian capital, Moscow, and later Lusaka, Zambia, making Shaka a true child of exile.

“In Germany, I discovered what it means to be a superstar – being the only black child in school.”

In Moscow he rode a military tank with a family friend, who happens to be a general in the Russian military.

The ANC enrolled its exile children in the Pioneer programme, which had meetings all over the world to teach them the importance of socialism.

Perhaps it was that sense of duty and serving society that made Sisulu start Cheesekids, an organisation that gives middle-class young people an opportunity to use their skills and expertise for the good of others.

He returned to South Africa with his family when the ANC was unbanned in 1990 and looks back on his time in exile with nostalgia – and a big reality check.

But living around the world makes it difficult to stay put.

“Life in exile teaches you how to move on. You always have to keep moving, be it locations, friends, vocation. And you need to move with the lowest amount of dissonance.”

For Shaka, exile encouraged tolerance and courage.

“I know there are different worlds, not one way of going about what you want. I don’t have a fear of the unknown. I’m a big change agent.”

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