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Lessons in honesty from FK, a true leader


By Thembelani Mkhize

I believe few people in the township know what true honesty is and even fewer still practise it. To be truthful, even I sometimes doubt my honesty after a visit to “FK’s” fruit shop.

Fakazi Khumalo, a proud father, business owner, community facilitator and unofficial youth leader, is a man who values honesty and tries to instill it in everyone around him… Few people actually get it.

Born and bred in Howick, Khumalo attended Howick Secondary School and then went on to UKZN Pietermaritzburg, where he pursued geographical studies and environmental management. With a keen interest in politics, he tries to teach his friends the ideals that some of his idols, like Steve Biko, lived by, while planting the seed of African appreciation in even the most desolate of characters.

Small business owner

After dropping out of university due to financial difficulties, Fakazi decided to open a small business selling marinated gizzards on his street. He acquired enough money to open a small shop on the same street, which now supplies the neighbourhood with fruit, snacks and essentials, such as bread and airtime.

Most of his friends and a number of local youths spend their time at the shop and, though most elders view some of them as trouble-making drug addicts, every minute they spend at FK’s is a minute away from trouble. He tries to create a relationship with everyone around him through a small errands-and-rewards system that to most people may seem insignificant, but to him builds a relationship of trust and honesty between him and the guys.

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Within the community Fakazi has been part of various projects, such as maintaining school gardens and keeping a number of landmark sites in his ward clean.

“Loving our community, ourselves and each other is the first step to a brighter future,” he says. He considers himself a revolutionary and his lectures are full of quotes by people like Credo Mutwa and Malcom X.

Education is one of the keys to success, but we often make the mistake of thinking it can only be acquired at an institution. If one of the guys didn’t know who Mahatma Gandhi was, by the time they left FK’s shop, they would know the size of his walking stick.

Mahatma Gandhi.

Now read, “Driving change, step by step”

When he gets talking, it is almost as if nothing can stop him. His passion to open his mouth is only rivalled by the surprising wisdom and wit emanating from a 26-year-old. Respected by both his peers and elders, and adored by the children, his worked in the community echoes across the whole of Mpophomeni, from organising soccer tournaments to marches on June 16 to commemorate Youth Day.

His latest project is a soccer tournament to honour a young, fallen star in the community. A final date has not been set yet, but the plan is to have it in June. He is still on the lookout for sponsors, but past events have shown his resilience and ability to do something without the help of government.

South Africa needs more leaders of the calibre of Fakazi Khumalo.

When talking about future leaders in the community, Fakazi Khumalo’s name will be somewhere at the top of the list. He is one of the few who will promote good governance and introduce a system of honesty that we truly lack in the township.

Here’s a young father who not only takes care of his responsibilities, but tries to teach those close to him the same – a quality our country is in dire need of.

Main picture, top: Picture: Warren Wong/Unsplash

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