21 life lessons from significant people to take into 2021

Thembalethu Seyisi of Fish Hoek has compiled a book of 21 life lessons from 21 South Africans.

A Fish Hoek law student has compiled a book of 21 life lessons from significant people in his world, and he is using sales of this book to help others.

Thembalethu Seyisi, a third-year law student from Stellenbosch University turned 21 on Wednesday, December 2. It was an auspicious day because not only did he hear he had passed all his exams, he also received the first print copy of his book, 21 Life Lessons @ 21.

Thembalethu decided four months ago to do something different for his 21st. He felt a party seemed distasteful in a year so many people were so sorely put to the test.

So, inspired by a group of people who had helped him, he decided to put together a book of essays: life lessons for young people.

“After deep reflection on how I could best celebrate the milestone of turning 21, I felt the need to pay it forward. Over the past few years, I have benefited so much from amazing role models in my life, and I’m deeply grateful for the unique opportunities I’ve had, such as the Ciucci Bursary awarded by the Stella Foundation, that enables me to study law at Stellenbosch University. I wanted other young people to also experience the love, grace and inspiration I have benefited from.”

Thembalethu approached 21 successful people he admired – including high-profile role models, personal heroes and family members – and asked them to share one life lesson or insight they wished they had known at 21.

The book contains contributions from: Moshe Apleni, Rochelle Barrish, Susan Booyens, Justice Edwin Cameron, Kathleen Ciucci, Catherine Constantinides, Professor Wim de Villiers, Sello Hatang, Vuyiseka Klaas, Zelda la Grange, Professor Thuli Madonsela, Jean Meiring, Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Neo Mokone, Marthe Muller, Sofia Neves, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, Sandra Prinsloo, Sithembiso Seyisi, Khaya Sithole and Sonja van der Sandt.

Thembalethu says: “I hope all the wisdom will inspire and motivate every young person who reads it, to rise above the odds and to see that it is possible to escape the shackles of poverty and deprivation – as so many contributors to this book prove with their life stories. My wish is also that this book will encourage readers to provide a lifeline to those who are still suffocated by inequality and injustice.”

He says the process of creating the book has confirmed the saying that there is strength in numbers.

“If we work together as a team with a united vision, we can build a better South Africa.”

He says he also learned that publishing a book is very hard work, especially if you do it while writing your third-year law exams.

Thembalethu is donating all profits from 21 Life Lessons @ 21 to three causes which have moved him.

His first dream is to help his friend, Natasha Chigamba, a final-year student at the University of the Western Cape, pay off her university fees, so she can qualify with a Bachelor’s degree in oral health in December.

Natasha was born in Zimbabwe and came to South Africa as an orphan when she was 7. Although her matric results were excellent, as a refugee, she didn’t qualify for funding, so she’s been working, paying her own tuition, and studying.

Natasha supported herself through many odd jobs like babysitting, waitressing, making jewellery and selling beauty products, but she still owes the university R60 000 before she can get her degree certificate.

Thembalethu also wants to help other students, so he is raising additional funds for #Action4Inclusion, a student-led crowdfunding campaign for academic inclusion and the scrapping of debt for all deserving students.

#Action4Inclusion was established by Stellenbosch University’s SRC and the university’s law faculty chair in social justice Professor Thuli Madonsela.

Thembalethu also wants to contribute to the fund of a good friend and mentor who was diagnosed with motor neuron disease. The #ALSgaanOKwees fund was created for Hannelie Booyens by her friends to help her to buy life-saving equipment she’ll need once she can no longer walk or talk.

Thembalethu believes 21 Life Lessons @ 21 will offer inspiration to young and old.

“This book’s stories of resilience and hope will be the perfect gift for your loved ones to start 2021.”

Visit www.21lifelessons.co.za. if you’re interested in buying the book.