The majority of students at Wits see close relatives, especially parents, as role models.

On Tuesday, Vuvuzela asked Witsies on Main Campus who their role models are. Although the results demonstrate a wide variety, including political leaders and celebrities, mothers top the list.

Amnesty International Wits co-deputy chairperson and treasurer Pearl Pillay said if she were to choose one person that she admires it would be her mother.

“She embodies the qualities of a strong, independent woman, but she also manages to balance that by being that nurturing, motherly figure,” she said.

The second most common answer was “myself”. Pillay said she is a firm believer in the power of the individual.

According to her, “we, too often, look outside, to Hollywood and other aspects of pop culture. If we have enough belief in our own potential, then we wouldn’t need to look to someone else to find what is actually latent in us all”.

SRC president Mukovhe Masutha said his role model is his aunty. “She made me realise the importance of education and turned me from a boy herding cattle to the president of the SRC.”

The survey also made clear that media plays a large role in setting trends. Many students said they are inspired by celebrities, such as musicians, TV presenters and businessmen, for example DJ Kent, Nonhle Themba, Patrice Motsepe, Steve Kardynal and Donald Trump.

Athletes were also a common answer. Wits sports council chairperson Brendan von Essen said his role model is Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, “because he walked”.

Von Essen was referring to India’s match against the West Indies on Sunday, March 20. Tendulkar walked back to the pavilion as he nicked fast bowler Ravi Rampaul’s delivery, although he could have benefited from the umpire’s decision, who ruled him not out.

Traditional role models – Mandela, Gandhi, Jesus and Mohammed – were not left out. However, some students gave unexpected replies.

Njabulo Mhlungu, a BSc mining postgraduate student, said Hitler was his role model because he revolutionised Germany and rewrote history. “I think he was a genius in the way that he made people believe that what he was doing was right,” he said.