S’bonelo Cele, aka Blstk Joe Banker is a new volunteer to IkamvaYouth KZN who joined us in the third term of the school year. I met him on my trip to Grahamstown where we were part of a production from the BAT Centre in Durban. Blstk was a regular rapper, as far as I could see. To the extent that when he asked if he could volunteer after I had spoken to him about Ikamva, I thought, “Great another rapper who can only tutor English”.

When he arrived (on time) on the first Saturday, he told me how excited he was because he had not touched High School Physics in some time. Needless to say, I was taken back. A rapper who is good at Physics. Those are very hard to come by. 

On his first day, I explained to Blstk how Ikamva works and he took over from there. When I walked into his class I was surprised that the learners were all quiet listening to this tiny figure teaching them about Physics and where it applies in the real world. To this day, the learners ask for Blstk to tutor Physics because he is able to make it relatable to their lives. He encourages learners to see Physics at work in their everyday lives, which makes it easier for them to understand it as a subject. I dare say, even I’m starting to see the work of physics around me… As someone who is not studying and is currently unemployed, he gave his time to teaching the Grade 12s during the teacher strike in September. This made a huge difference in the learners confidence in themselves as they had given up, because the preliminary examinations were close, while their striking teacher had not yet finished teaching them the Physics curriculum.

Blstk has had a huge impact on Ikamva, but volunteering has also changed his outlook on life. According to Blstk, volunteering has shown him that are more important things in life that most people overlook. The opportunity to help others and empower the future generation has proved to be very fulfilling. The idea of helping learners realise their full potential and succeed at school has given him drive and passion which resonates in other aspects of his life. He was able to find meaning for his life and this has enabled him to push himself to achieve more with his rap career. The determination, sense of initiative and hard work ethic which he hopes to impart to learners has seen Blstk take on projects that he thought would be insurmountable a few months ago.

The returns on volunteering are not always tangible, yet sometimes the biggest gains for individuals are the intangible lessons and ways of seeing oneself and the world, that make a difference. Blstk not only encourages his learners to be more and do more, but he has also learned to believe in himself by practising what he preaches.