Itumeleng Banda, 20
Itumeleng Innocentia Banda, also known as KgosiGadi, lives in Alexandra, north of Johannesburg, South Africa. During high school, Banda was introduced to public speaking and her love for the media industry. She landed her first job in radio, at the age of 19, after auditioning for news anchor positions at Alex FM, a local radio station. Banda aims to empower people across the globe, young and old, and inspire them to understand that while the world is filled with opportunities, one can only achieve them through hard work, dedication, and sacrifice.
In 2017, Banda joined Bigger Than Life, AlexFM’s program featuring young reporters, introducing her to other young people who speak for the voiceless within the community of Alexandra. Banda’s reporting for Bigger Than Life aims to be relatable in order to capture listener attention. Banda and her colleagues discuss social issues on air that exist within their community, such as xenophobia, inter-generational racism, and gun violence. During their program on firearms, they provided statistics, ways to report violence, and counseling resources to their listeners. That same day, a young man arrived at the radio station and confessed that listening to their conversation had prevented him from shooting his girlfriend, as he had planned.
As a fervent advocate against gun violence, Banda thinks the escalating rates of firearm-based aggressions in her community is unacceptable. She says that while many have become desensitized to it, the daily exposure to firearms in homes, schools, and media leave lasting emotional scars on the youth in her community, including Banda, whose mother was hospitalized after she was struck on the head with a gun during a home invasion. Banda feels a personal responsibility to lead her community to protect the youth and encourage them to become better individuals in order to demolish gun violence. Banda believes that if victims and perpetrators alike are provided counseling and are rehabilitated, they will feel empowered to use their voices as a form of healing to encourage others to seek help. In 2018, Banda was nominated for Best Educational Show at the National Community Radio Awards.
Banda is currently a junior at the University of Johannesburg, studying Film and Television. She hopes to become one of the greatest radio and television personalities from South Africa. She hopes to someday establish a foundation with mentorship programs to empower disadvantaged youth to go to school, obtain nourishment, and inspire them to be the best version of themselves.
enough is enough
by Itumeleng Banda
My father was killed by gun violence,
My mother was abducted by silence
And my brother was paralyzed for fighting.
In the past we blamed the whites for depriving us freedom, we blamed them for banishing our voices and for killing our children.
But who are we to blame now as our streets are stained with blood,
Our mortuaries are swarmed with undefined lifeless bodies
And most of our hospital beds are occupied by wounded people.
Make me understand!
Why our children are taught how to dodge bullets before they are taught how to read and write.
Make me understand! Why our children are so worried about dying instead of living.
Oh, make me understand! Why the sight of burning candles honoring children who have been killed by bullets are regular views.
South Africa is in the grips of a gun violence disaster, as this deadly weapon has mounted fear in places of happiness and innocence. It has taken away our loved ones forever and has deprived others the ability to walk, speak and live their lives independently, as they now depend on others for constant assistance.
We teach our children to refrain from using violence, but yet we raise them in a country in which
Violence is a citizen,
In a country where the sounds of gunshots are regular rhythms that gets people moving
And, in a country, where guns are not just toys, but rather signs of authority and bravery for young boys.
The power of a gun does not lie within its bullets, but it lies within the shooter.
Our young men need to be taught that troubles cannot be shot away,
And that silencing your enemies with a pistol does not declare that your worries are astray.
We need to teach them that shooting their girlfriends is not a way to proving their masculinity
And that turning to crime and murder does not provide a means of escape from unemployment, poverty or hunger.
It puts a smile on the man’s face who in the past placed us in a situation where we turned against and murder one other.
Oh young man, Enough is Enough!
We are tired of being a nation whose dreams are deferred
We are tired of being a nation whose future leaders do not live until their voices are heard
And we are tired of being a nation whose greatness is demurred.
OH YOUNG MAN, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!