How Athol Williams defied the odds to help inspire others to thrive

Lead SA Hero, award-winning writer and social entrepreneur Athol Williams has been through tremendous hardships but he continues to push on - and give back.

Williams is the chairman of Read to Rise, a youth literacy nongovernmental organisation that he co-founded.

He is also one of the first people to earn Masters degrees from five of the top universities in the world.

But how did a young man from Mitchells Plain, living in Apartheid South Africa come to achieve so much?

Williams says he always dreamt about receiving education from leading international universities - and focused on this dreams throughout his life.

I had a dream, and I tried to hold on to my dream as closely as I could.

Athol Williams, writer and award-winning poet

He says he understood early on that education would be a powerful driver in his life.

I loved read and loved learning. My parents instilled in us the drive to learn.

Athol Williams, writer and award-winning poet

In the midst of the apartheid era and student uprisings, Williams taught himself a lot the subjects and went to school during the day while also attending night school, and extra classes on weekends and holidays.

My parents didn't buy me anything else other than extra books. It became my mission to make sure I got through high school.

Athol Williams, writer and award-winning poet

He then went on to face other challenges at Wits University and later as one of the first black engineer in the country.

Life isn't about the boulder, it's about the dream on the other end.

Athol Williams, writer and award-winning poet

Williams has studied at Harvard, MIT, London Business School, the London School of Economics and is currently at Oxford.

He recently published his inspirational memoir _Pushing Boulders _and tells Pippa Hudson about his journey.

Take a listen to the inspiring story:

CapeTalk welcomes all comments that are constructive, contribute to discussions in a meaningful manner and take stories forward.

However, we will NOT condone the following:

  • Racism (including offensive comments based on ethnicity and nationality)
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Religious intolerance
  • Cyber bullying
  • Hate speech
  • Derogatory language
  • Comments inciting violence.

We ask that your comments remain relevant to the articles they appear on and do not include general banter or conversation as this dilutes the effectiveness of the comments section.

We strive to make the CapeTalk community a safe and welcoming space for all.

CapeTalk reserves the right to: 1) remove any comments that do not follow the above guidelines; and, 2) ban users who repeatedly infringe the rules.

Should you find any comments upsetting or offensive you can also flag them and we will assess it against our guidelines.

CapeTalk is constantly reviewing its comments policy in order to create an environment conducive to constructive conversations.

Read More
Free mobile app helps families find kid-friendly things to do nearby

Free mobile app helps families find kid-friendly things to do nearby

The app shows parties, movies, day trips, tutor classes, emergency numbers, free events, holiday programmes and much more.

CT film fest hosts expo to help open industry doors

CT film fest hosts expo to help open industry doors

The Cape Town International Film Market and Festival aims to support the development of the film industry across Africa.

No surprise that Nzimande shown the door in Cabinet reshuffle - analyst

No surprise that Nzimande shown the door in Cabinet reshuffle - analyst

Political analyst Karima Brown says SACP members who remain in Cabinet are "at the mercy" of Zuma and will have to strategise.

Schools Act prohibits political activities during school time, says SGB group

Schools Act prohibits political activities during school time, says SGB group

There is public debate over an image of Maritzburg College pupils carrying EFF branded T-shirts, calling for land redistribution.

'Zero chance Zuma will appear in court before ANC's elective conference'

'Zero chance Zuma will appear in court before ANC's elective conference'

News editor Adriaan Basson says it is unlikely that the NPA will decide on whether or not to prosecute Zuma before December.

Proposed hike in car licence fees questioned

Proposed hike in car licence fees questioned

Motorists could be coughing up R30 more in vehicle licence fees in 2018 and the Justice Project South Africa is not having it.

Popular articles
Hassen Adams (he brought Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts to SA) talks money

Hassen Adams (he brought Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts to SA) talks money

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Adams about his attitude to money (hopes and fears, successes and failures, etc.).

Eusebius Opinion: "Let go Kevin Pietersen, you do not own the school"

Eusebius Opinion: "Let go Kevin Pietersen, you do not own the school"

McKaiser responds to former SA, now England cricketer Pietersen's comments over Maritzburg College pupils holding EFF t-shirts.

Twitter is gobsmacked as Nigeria honours Jacob Zuma with bronze statue and road

Twitter is gobsmacked as Nigeria honours Jacob Zuma with bronze statue and road

During Zuma's visit to Nigeria, the Governor of the Imo State in Nigeria, Mr Owelle Okorocha, conferred an Imo Merit Award on him.

Minister Lynne Brown's partner scored R1.2 million contracts with Eskom

Minister Lynne Brown's partner scored R1.2 million contracts with Eskom

Sikonathi Mantshantsha says this revelation explains why Brown was reluctant to take any action against Eskom executives.

KZN school ordered to stop action against students with EFF shirts

KZN school ordered to stop action against students with EFF shirts

A letter has been addressed to the Maritzburg College principal after an image of the boys went viral last week.

Kloof Street residents living in fear as crime multiplies

Kloof Street residents living in fear as crime multiplies

A Cape Town man was stabbed to death on Saturday while trying to assist two women who were being mugged on Kloof street.

‘I started my thriving business with R5000 (and made a profit in the 1st month)’

‘I started my thriving business with R5000 (and made a profit in the 1st month)’

After 3 years there are 3 Nic Harry stores (incl online) that sell 100 000 pairs of socks in over 20 countries around the world.