Siyabulela Xuza was at the Chamber of Mines yesterday afternoon sharing his life experiences in order to inspire others

There aren’t many South Africans who have the honor of having a planet named after them.

At the age of 26, Harvard graduate Siyabulela Xuza had this honor bestowed upon him after he took first place at an international science fair, the Global Science and Engineering fair for an alternative rocket fuel.

He gave a motivational talk to Engineering students at the Chamber of Mines yesterday afternoon.  Xuza had the audience eating out of his hands after sharing with them that he had been, even if it was for just four months, a Witsie who stayed at Knockando Halls of Residence before he found out that he had been awarded a scholarship to Harvard.

His story is one about perseverance and optimism that knows no bounds. He believes in hard work and to “Remain Ruthlessly Curious” which is his personal motto.

Believer: Siya Xuza sharing stories of his childhood in order to inspire Witsies. Photo: Michelle Gumede

Believer: Siya Xuza sharing stories of his childhood in order to inspire Witsies. Photo: Michelle Gumede

Xuza recounts how as a little boy growing up in Northcrest Township in Umthatha, he was fascinated by watching an airplane in the sky. He did not know what it was, but he wanted to find out.

At some point in his young life he decided he wanted to go to Jupiter, so he’d build a rocket. This decision led to him blowing up parts of his mother’s kitchen in an attempt to create fuel for his rocket.

Xuza’s story is appealing to so many young people because it is authentic. During the question and answer session, he explained how he prefers to tell his own story to inspire young people, in whose position he once was. He believes that because it’s genuine and it’s from him about him, then people are likely to get the message far easier.

“It is estimated that 850 million people in Africa do not have access to energy. As an innovator, it is our [sic] job to try to solve the problems of tomorrow by improving on yesterday’s solutions…” said Xuza. This is the reason he was inspired to create a micro fuel cell that will last longer after it has been charged. He does however admit that even though this cell will revolutionize the availability of power, it is still financially impractical to mass produce.

Xuza says this is why his partnership with TOTAL is so important because then he will be equipped with the necessary financial skills in order to solve this problem.

The humble and quietly confident young man is proof, as clichéd as this sounds, that if you work hard, have a clear vision and persevere, anything is possible.