Eastern Cape Athenkosi Fani

Athenkosi Fani faced many challenges as a young boy but today he is proud to have overcome them all and helps children in the Eastern Cape to do the same.


Athi was born in East London and excelled in primary school until one day his step-father started abusing him and his mother. This abuse drove Athi into shebeens where he started drinking from the age of 10. The change in his behaviour is what caused teachers to send social workers to investigate how his home life was. Athi was taken from his mother and put into a children’s home.

After a few years the children’s home was shut down and Athi was sent to live in Port Elizabeth. He was 15 at the time and had the opportunity to say goodbye to his mother.

“The day I left for Port Elizabeth my mother was crying. “I still remember her words: ‘My child, you have been given a new chance at life.’ “And I was determined not to let her down,” 

Athi decided it was time for a change, he turned his life around and decided he needed to use his voice for good.

“Yes, my life has been difficult, but I made a decision not to let the past get me down.

“There is a reason I am on earth and it is not to be a victim. I believe I am meant for greater things and hope I can inspire others to also achieve more than they think they are capable of.”

Now 19 Athi has achieved so many great things, it all started by joining the debate team which gave him the confidence he needed to become a change maker. Over the years Athi has managed to earn many titles! He was voted Mr PE Philanthropist, Mr Teen Mzantsi Africa Ambassador, and vice-chairman of the National Association of Child Care Workers – and has served on the MTR Smit Youth Forum, the David Livingstone Learner Representative Council and the Port Elizabeth Junior City Council.

His most recent titles have been Mr. Teen Eastern Cape and he was nominated for the Herald GM Citizen of the Year 2016. Athi even had the honour of speaking at the National Youth Conference in Gauteng. He was also selected to be the deputy head boy of David Livingstone high school.

Athi strongly believes that “Substance and alcohol abuse among our youth needs to be addressed urgently,”.

This issue is so important because of his own history with the problem. Athi has always sought out positive role models and found one in his teacher Ronel Smith who mentored him throughout his last 3 years of school.

“And he is always willing to share his own story. Because he understands the importance of positive role models, he is always trying to be one himself,” – Ronel Smith

Athi’s story is one to admire, he has worked hard to change not only his life but the lives of other children who are in the same situation as him. He featured in a mini documentary for the Herald Live as part of his nomination. He shares his story and his passion for changing young lives.

We cannot wait to see how he grows further and the good work he does for others in the future to come.

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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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