Princess, pathfinder and philanthropist

Princess Gcwalisile was the first woman to receive a doctoral degree in the Zulu Royal Family. She was fortunate enough that her parents believed in educating a girl-child. As firstborn, she remembers that “my parents always reminded me that I should be a role model to my siblings.”

Princess Gcwalisile cherishes the memory of her late father, Prince Gideon Layukona Zulu, as he taught her the philosophy of Ubuntu and how to care for others and be empathic. Her concern for others is evident in her life’s work as she continually contributes her time and attention to the care of those who need it most.

With her caring foundation set, Princess Gcwalisile found her calling; “to be of service to those who are less fortunate than me [and] to use all faculties of my being to listen and respond to the plight of others, especially women and children.”

After numerous hardships and emotional setbacks, Princess Gcwalisile has learned that “politics is a dirty game indeed.”

“Life is not always a bed of roses.” Princess Gcwalisile continues “my father was a politician and that made him an enemy to some; my parents’ businesses led to the brutal death of my brothers, Prince Mazwendoda Zulu who managed the family businesses and my youngest brother Prince Mzobanzi Zulu, who was into his second year of studies at the University of Zululand. His killers were never found to date.”

Facing the challenges is the first step to positive change

Conquering the ills in South Africa is difficult because they have become part of our society’s structure and “refuse to be eradicated.” Our main issues are unemployment, poverty and inequality and these affect most people in South Africa. Princess Gcwalisile also worries about her adult children who cannot find employment.

The struggle permeates into other areas of society and often manifests as addiction. Princess Gcwalisile witnesses “our youth is perishing and drowning in substance and alcohol abuse,” and unfortunately our government is no help. “Our government only pays lip service when it talks about service delivery and job creation, this saddens me. The level of corruption and abuse of power by the powers that be and lack of consequence management contributes to the citizens’ woes.

A growing issue we need to confront is the “rampant killing of women and children.” This is a scourge that requires the whole nation to join hands in saying ‘enough is enough.’

Small steps can lead to systematic change

With help, South Africa can change for the better. That’s why Princess Gcwalisile initiated the non-profit organisation called Qolothani Makhosikazi Social and Cultural Services (Qolothani is a Zulu word meaning ‘work hard ‘ and Makhosikazi means women).  “The little that we do for the community of Mbekweni township sometimes comforts me, in that no matter how small our efforts are as an organisation, the fact that there is something we are doing to reach out to others, comforts me.

“I think my spiritual being and beliefs are critical in moving from a place of disharmony to an anticipated harmony. Whether there will be tangible economic and social transformation soon is unclear; the injustice of the past is still haunting us.”

Nevertheless, Princess Gcwalisile pushes on. Facing the challenges head-on, she is determined to keep making a difference in her community, regardless of how small it may be.

How a charity facilitates change in the community

Children are at the heart of the Qolothani Makhosikazi organisation as they take care of a few child-headed families and focus on implementing change in schools. They have partnered with local schools (Mbekweni and Imboniselo Primary Schools) where they use arts, culture and heritage as tools to create a better society that upholds the values of humanity (Ubuntu).

Additionally, Princess Gcwalisile and her team organise workshops and conferences to help enhance social cohesion. They also participate in the campaigns that bring awareness and addresses issues of injustices and human rights.

Keeping an eye on the future

“To lead the way forward, we need to increase the socio-economic rate, improve the quality of education, health and other services. Most importantly, we need to create more opportunities and economic participation for women (especially), as they are often the main breadwinners for their families and youth in our communities.”

Be strong and make the change you want to see  

“To those who have lost hope I say to them:  Never give up on your efforts to be part of the change we want to see. You must be strong enough to ensure that your voice is heard by the powers that be.  You must not be silent but use all the available platforms to demand being heard and taken seriously.”

To find out more about Qolothani Makhosikazi Social and Cultural Services, click here.