Zahraa Hendricks had a game to win. To her, scoring tries was the challenge, not
wearing a headscarf. The young hijabi didn’t expect to make headlines in her first rugby
match. But when Hendricks ran onto the field, pictures of her were taken and posted to
social media. Instantly, they went viral. Hendricks’ amendments to her kit had caught
onlookers off-guard. For protection and as a symbol of modesty, Muslim women veil
their hair. Because of it, they’re often doubly painted with the stigma of being
Hendricks’ decision to play rugby tackles more than one misconception. “A lot of
Muslim girls may feel that there isn’t a place for them in contact sport,” she says.
Hendricks proves otherwise. The kit isn’t as covered as she requires, so she’s adapted
the gear to suit her needs. “The topic of hijab is constantly under scrutiny,” she says. But
in Hendricks’ team, the headscarf is seen as part of her identity – just as it is to her.
Bolekwa Salusalu has no hands, but she sews every single day. The 62-year-old is a
designer and creator of immaculately stitched wedding dresses, traditional outfits, and
school uniforms. Draped around her modest studio are a range of colourful garments,
each pattern more interesting than the next. Her friend Luluma Mnyute is perpetually
bowled over by Salusalu’s talent. Salusalu works tirelessly to provide for her family
from her home in the Eastern Cape, but she does it with style.
As a little girl, Salusalu watched her grandmother make her own clothing. She eagerly
soaked up lessons in sewing at school, but her family’s limited finances forced her to
drop out in Grade 8. In spite of this, the young seamstress pursued her passion and soon
blossomed into a talented designer. After working as a tailor for 28 years, she began
experiencing pain in her arm. Upon examination, doctors found that she had developed
gangrene. That year, Salusalu had both her right hand and her leg amputated, but she
kept on sewing. And even when she lost her left hand, she never gave up.
Despite the barriers she faces, Salusalu has come up with innovative ways to keep living
life on her own terms. Crickets chirp outside her window, and the whirr of the sewing
machine fills her room. Though surrounded by noise, Salusalu’s demeanor is always
Not one to be deterred from passion, Salusalu has made a point of proving the ease in
simply doing what needs to be done. Beyond dressing her community in the finest
fashions, she offers something far more profound to South Africa: inspiration. In just
being herself, Salusalu demonstrates how we can do anything we put our minds to, no
matter the limitations. “With my stompie,” she says, “I’m going to show you.”
Music was the first sign of Faith Mamba’s bright future. She didn’t know much about
melodies – except that they provided her with the warmth she yearned for. After
Mamba’s mother passed on, her grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. Foreseeing
the impending outcome, the matriarch placed the young girl in an orphanage. When her
grandmother died, Mamba was left to face life on her own. Social workers and
caregivers reached out by offering Mamba a host of recreational activities. In sonorous
sounds, she discovered profound comfort.
It was while attending a student concert at the Durban Music School that Mamba
noticed the saxophone. Her newfound interest drove her to enrol at the institution.
There, the shiny gold instrument fast became her favourite and enabled Mamba to
channel her emotions.
Mamba’s dedication has turned her life into a symphony. Today, the university student
has reached Grade 6 in Classical Music and remains loyal to the family that supported
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