Student Rotenda Gavhi has won the prestigious National Library of South Africa’s Young Voices poetry slam.

 has a way with words – and numbers

20-year-old Rotenda Gavhi’s way with words earned her first place in the prestigious National Library of South Africa’s Young Voices poetry slam.


This annual competition for South African citizens between the ages of 18 and 35 takes place during Youth Month. After the judges and the public had voted, Rotenda was announced the winner of the 2020 competition.


This second-year student from Duvhuledza, a small village just outside Thohoyandou in the Limpopo Province, is enrolled for a BCom degree in financial accountancy.


An early start


Her love for poetry started back in primary school. “When we were assigned creative writing tasks my teacher would read my work to the rest of class, and she used to say that I would be a great writer some day.


“Those words really encouraged me and stuck with me.  When I got to high school my love for writing grew even more and I started using online platforms to publish some of my work.”


A passion for writing and helping others


Besides being an accomplished writer and poet, Rotenda is also an ambassador of the New York Academy of Sciences. She applied for and was accepted as a mentee in their mentorship programme, 1000 Girls,1000 Futures.


Sponsored by the Global Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Alliance, this online programme aims to empower 1 000 girls aged 13 to 17 globally.


“After I completed high school – which was also the end of my academic year in the programme – I decided to apply to be a volunteering ambassador.”


She is also one of the directors of an NPO called Be That Girl, an organisation aimed at empowering girls academically, socially and spiritually. “Our main objective is to make sure that a girl child is granted all she needs,” she says.


Rotenda is also a part-time graphic designer and in her spare time designs graphics to generate funds for Be That Girl’s sanitary towels drive.


Plans for the future


Rotenda believes the future has many blessings in store for her. She strives to excel academically and aspires to make a great impact in the accounting sector. She also wants to nurture her creative writing talent and continue writing poetry.


She adds that she is a socialist at heart and therefore wants to engage in developing young people. “I want to be an asset for this country – not for myself, but for society. All glory goes to God for his greatness thus far.”


It is clear that Rotenda’s dreams and talents have no limits and that this young lady will achieve great things in future.

Rotenda says she is grateful for the support she received from her family and the community of Duvhuledza, her friends at church, the NWU family, her Facebook friends, the media and the team at Be That Girl.