Education transformed Maps Maponyane from a stuttering child into a style icon
Every time he tried to speak, the words staggered out in a disjointed mess. He stuttered his way through primary school, becoming an easy target for school bullies and turning rebellious as a means of defence. But as his education furthered, he grew to love school, developing a sense of discipline and overcoming his speech impediment. The insecure boy was left in the past, growing up to become the man that Maps Maponyane is today. Finishing university with a quadruple major, the actor, style icon and fashion designer knows that fame isn’t everything. Education matters. And while he was able to overcome his obstacles, others are less fortunate.
So when South Africa’s students started to mobilise, Maponyane paid attention. Their rallying cry during the #FeesMustFall protests struck a chord. He’d experienced the transformative power of education and wanted others to have the same opportunity. But sitting behind a screen made him feel helpless. Showing interest wasn’t enough. Together with a friend, he created Bursary Network, a platform that crowdfunds tuition fees for deserving students. So far, it has fully funded over ten students. “I want to get society to see how they can make a difference,” he says.
Maponyane is on a mission to build a legacy that will outlast his celebrity status. The host of accomplishments that the ambitious trendsetter has racked up so young is proof that age is not a barrier to achievement. Not content with his success alone, he’s now helping a new generation of young people realise their goals. It’s the embodiment of Ubuntu, a celebration of the pride Maponyane has in the diversity, colour and energy of his fellow South Africans.
• This article was originally published in the Beautiful News.