South Africa: Catching up with Lindani and Olwami

March 20, 2024



Lindani and Olwami are two recent PeacePlayers South Africa alumni. Read what they have to say about the role that PeacePlayers and basketball itself are having in their country.

PeacePlayers: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Lindani: My name is Lindani. I’m from Umlazi, South Africa. I'm 21 years old, and I'm a person who really likes people who’ve got positive vibes. I've been part of PeacePlayers for ten years now.

Olwami: My name is Olwami Zungu. I'm just a young, enthusiastic and ambitious boy from Imbali, which is a very big township in Pietermaritzburg. But yeah, I’m just somebody that wants to change the way things are done in life.

PeacePlayers: Could you share a little bit about what it’s like living in South Africa and why you think PeacePlayers exists where you are?

Lindani: I think the reason why PeacePlayers exists here in South Africa is because even though South Africa is a rainbow nation, there is still crime. There is still racism. There is still gender inequality. So [PeacePlayers] is here to fight all of that using the young ones – through sports. My experience is that PeacePlayers is not just about basketball. PeacePlayers are here to implement a positive thinking in our heads and build us to be leaders. I always told myself that if PeacePlayers wasn't there for me, maybe I wouldn’t be the person that I am today because I've seen people who I was studying with at a younger age, and some of them have died, some of them are taking drugs. So I can say it's really changed my life and it's really changing other people's lives.

Olwami: When I think about PeacePlayers, I think about unity. Just being able to bring people from different places, different [economic circumstances]. Not many programs can do that. Just being able to witness it from the inside, it empowers me to actually do great things. And I think that it does that for everybody, because everybody I've met in the Leadership Development Program thinks the way I do.

PeacePlayers: Olawami, you said that at that first session, you saw the ethos of PeacePlayers. What was it that you saw?

Olwami: When we play basketball, it doesn't matter which school you come from. It doesn't matter what race you are. It doesn't matter what religion you follow. We all play the same game. That was also my first time actually playing with girls, and just being able to understand that they're not just girls – they're basketball players. Because one girl actually said that they don't wanna always be treated softly, you know, and I actually understood that. Why are we always limiting girls thinking that they can't play basketball like men? Well, yes they can.

“PeacePlayers grew me to be this leader that I am now. I'm always learning and doing things I never would have thought I would be able to do at my age. Or at all. But PeacePlayers has been a catalyst for my success in life.”
- Olwami

PeacePlayers: A lot of young people around the world are growing up in increasingly divided societies. How can basketball make a difference in this?

Lindani: Basketball is not just basketball. Basketball is here to shape, and teach and also build a peaceful world. Because the PeacePlayers vision is to create a better world. They can't reach everyone, but by using us young people who are about to become future leaders [to spread that vision], basketball will be bringing change in this country.

Olwami: If you look at life, the ball is life, right? It's in your control. Basketball makes us understand that I am in control of my own life and the decisions that I make. And the decisions that I do make will influence other people, because, as the ball moves around the court, other people have to move too. So if you put that into life, you understand that you can't move alone. Understanding that this play that you're currently working on will affect your next play. And in life, what you're doing now is going to affect the next generation. My coach said that you don't need to always be the one scoring – you can help another person score. You could pass the ball to them. You could open up space for them. Same thing in life.

PeacePlayers: And what is it about basketball that does that?

Lindani: I think it's in the mentorship of coaches. We always use everything that they taught us. We all respect each other. There is no racism. So I think basketball has the power of changing the world, like at PeacePlayers, they have this thing that says, ‘If the children can play together, they can learn to live together.’

“The PeacePlayers vision is to create a better world. They can't reach everyone, but by using us young people who are about to become future leaders [to spread that vision], basketball will be bringing change in this country.”
- Lindani

PeacePlayers: PeacePlayers: What else do you think basketball provides for young people?

Olwami: I see basketball influencing a lot of factors like personal health and physical health. And also basketball is a growing sport in South Africa, so there's a lot of space to grow, and a lot you can gain, for instance, scholarships. Also, basketball allows you to analyze certain things in life at a slower pace. Because, basketball teaches you to be able to slow your mind down through all the speed that's going on, and make precise decisions. So, take that into life. You’re able to analyze certain situations and make wiser decisions.

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