Human rights activist Siposetu Mbuli, from Kayamnandi in Stellenbosch accepts an award from Queen Elizabeth at the Queen’s Young Leaders Awards ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London.

SIPOSETU MBULI, a human rights activist in Kayamnandi, Stellenbosch, never dreamt of rubbing shoulders and engaging with the British Royal Family. However, at a special ceremony in London, the 24-year-old was honoured by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Head of the Commonwealth, for her work on the plight of people living with albinism in South Africa.

The event, which was held at Buckingham Palace, “recognises and celebrates inspiring young people from across the Commonwealth who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives”.

The UCT student and a recipient from Welkom, Thamsanqa Hoza (who received the award for his work helping young entrepreneurs and innovators to achieve their goals), were the only South Africans to receive the 2018 Queen’s Young Leaders Award at the ceremony on the 26th of June.

Mbuli, who was born with albinism herself, is developing new ways to end the stigma of albinism. She co-founded Love, This Skin, an organisation which assists, supports and educates young people with albinism and their families. The organisation currently works with over 100 people, the majority of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“I am grateful to have received this award, it’s such a huge platform to set a spotlight on issues about albinism in South Africa and seeing so many people are interested in hearing about the issue. This is an experience I’ll always carry with me, ”she said.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex said: “In this rapidly changing world, it is heartening to meet so many inspiring young people gathered here today, who have already stepped up as leaders and improved the lives of so many people across the Commonwealth. You are the hope and optimism the world needs, and we will all do whatever we can to support you in it.”

As a Queen’s Young Leader, Mbuli and Hoza have gained access to bespoke mentoring and training through the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education, designed to develop their leadership skills further, and ensure they are best placed to lead the way in the future to tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues. Mbuli will embark on a year-long course, via correspondence, at the University, aimed at helping her develop her foundation.