An inspirational South African with a brilliant mind, who has been living on the streets, has been giving a second chance in life.
“I have a name” is an incredible photo series showcasing everyday South Africans in the most phenomenal way. Proudly South African… one story at a time.
The stories are told by the incredible South Africans… raw & unedited. It’s a showcase of humanness, a reminder that behind every face, is a name.
Meet Mengameli… an incredible South African with a brilliant mind that has been waiting for his second chance.
What strikes me is that the articulate voice coming from the young man does not match his appearance. You can tell that he is living on the street, his clothes dirty, and face haggard from cold nights exposed to the elements.
He has two different shoes on. But when he opens his mouth…it’s as if I’m speaking with a university student. He’s buying 5 cigarettes from the street vendor I’m chatting to just opposite the Hobart Center in Bryanston.
“My name is Sia… at least that is what I tell people because it is easier to remember – my real name is Mengameli – it means ‘President’ in Zulu. I’m from Durban, I came to Johannesburg because I have big dreams and business ideas.”
He’s an analytical thinker. He believe in economic development and poverty alleviation. Sia came up with three keys to economic development that he really believes in.
Point 1 – write this down!” he instructs me because I’m not writing it down fast enough.
- The apartment industry
- The Transport industry
- EA Sport
He goes on to explain his dream for low cost housing – but not shacks – small rooms in quality high rise apartment buildings sponsored in part by big business like Eskom – for entrepreneurs who are just starting out but struggling to make end meet.
“Life is all about competition – as humans we are always competing with each other – it is good for business. Big Business should be encouraging new ideas and young people, and providing housing is great place to start.”
Mengameli then introduces his ideas for transforming the transport industry.
“People spend millions of Rands on sports cars like Ferraris. The beauty about driving a Ferrari is the speed and power – but when you live in a big city you can’t use that speed and power because of all the traffic. I have drawn up plans for a ‘Hu-copter’ like a helicopter – but then for humans. It’s a hybrid between a car/helicopter and seats two people. It has two modes – flight and drive.”
The determined South African wants to introduce the concept to Resolution Circle Technology – they are an innovation company.
I’ve never heard of them, but I google them later and find out that he is right. Turns out they are a Tech Incubator – The Resolution Circle Incubator is specifically targeted for early stage technology start-ups that need to design, prototype and commercialise any form of technology.
His last key idea is EA Sport (Electronic Art Sport), Mengameli goes into a long explanation – parts of which are beyond my comprehension, but I get the gist – virtual reality or augmented reality sports, where an avatar is created for big sports stars Again this will be sponsored by big business and it will have its own DSTV channel.
I’m completely baffled by his intelligence, dreams and ideas. I ask him how far he got in school.
“Grade 11… my parents both died. I was the eldest, I couldn’t stay in school. I’m 25 now.. I didn’t realise it would be this difficult to break into the business world. I would love to work for a tech company like Eskom, or Resolution Circle. At the moment I’m homeless and live on the street.”
After the post, Fred Baumhardt, a local community member took Mengameli home to a room and food and clothes and a job where he will get to use his mind.
Haydn, a representative from Resolution Circle has also met with the incredible South African and the company is going to explore the possibility of helping him finish his matric and further schooling.
“I Have A Name” is a space where an anonymous photographer (we’ll call her J) is taking photos of everyday South Africans to showcase their incredible stories.
How do we bridge the great South African divides? Black vs white, young vs old, rich vs poor, men vs women? The divides that keep us from making eye contact with the beggar standing on the street corner, or the stranger in the lift.
CS Lewis said, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”
Come with me on a journey…the stories and names behind the faces of everyday South Africans living their life in your neighbourhood, on your streets.
I think you will discover that we have a lot in common.