The Journey To Self

The Journey To Self



The journey to self and understanding individuality

We often get so caught up thinking about the end goal, so much so that we tend to forget the beauty of the process. Sometimes so overwhelmed by the idea of reaching it, we lose sight of what is required and get demoralised by our uncharted progress. Enter, the journey to self.

The journey to self is a personal one, in this month’s post, we look at how a young man raised in the village of Ngwane with his 9 siblings. How he overcame all odds to become the Director General of Home Affairs. In light of everything that has been happening in South Africa regarding the Gupta naturalisation and so on, I was humbled to have been able to sit down with the man himself. What humbles me, even more, was being taken on his journey.

Growing up in the Apartheid Government era for a young black man was very different. Especially compared to what growing up in this day and age is like. Listening to him speak made me realise how profound human beings actually are. I cannot imagine myself in that position, aspiring to work for this very government in such a capacity! Guess what, neither did Mr. Apleni. So how did this all happen? How are things that we do not currently fathom possibly obtainable?

The Journey to Self


Raised in a village that only offered a school level up to grade 6, Mr. Apleni had to leave his family and move to another town. Here he would further his education at least to grade 9. It was here where most of his classmates would decide their futures. Their options were limited, they would either enroll into the police, taking their education further or take up a job in the mines. Let me open up your perspective a little here. This choice was easier for some than others. Unlike their homes, the mining town had amenities such as electricity. A basic need in most people’s lives today was the plateau many aspired to experience.

When I asked what drove him to stay the course in academia, he simply said he saw people wearing gowns at a ceremony and he wanted to wear one too. Having never done accounting, while applying for tertiary, he chose Economic Science simply because the word science was in the title. Only once he started the course was he introduced to the concept of accounting. I’m personally baffled by how in one application, the fate of your life is decided. We may not even comprehend the direction we have set out to take.

Leaving tertiary without the gown, to support his newly founded family did not deter him from returning. He went back to obtain the diploma in this new science he had discovered once the dust had settled. It simply was not enough. Now that he had this gown, he noticed the degree gown! True to his nature, he worked towards the next piece of academic accolades and garments.

I’d like to level with you here. This is a man that never lost sight of what he wanted and did what was required to earn his stripes. He received his qualification at the tender age of 30 years old. An age where many feel they need to be complete human beings. Time and experience are not parallels and should not be treated as such. One man’s 60 years of life is another man’s 30 years of experience, it’s all tailor-made to us as individuals.

The Journey to Self

Taking on task by task, and doing above and beyond what was required of him, he climbed the ranks. All of this is a testament to who he is, not what he does. Moving from companies to various departments in the government, he learned that no one individual had the knowledge or capacity of any workforce. His humility allowed him to understand people and they could understand him.

The currency of people skills became evident and somewhat quantifiable. Being a hub of human resource, he was able to coordinate and amalgamate infrastructures that would grow in the united ventures. Placed in positions where his peers were far older, he was faced with many challenges that shaped and certified the man he is today.

I asked how he got to the position of DG and he simply said he was chosen. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma called him to the position of CFO, deputy director general, where he was given a chance to prove himself.

Today he sits at the head of operations, a place he had never envisioned himself. Most of all, a place he was chosen to sit on, not out of personal gain or enrichment but simply because all he did was want to be a better version of himself. A better version at every step of the way. The rest simply just fell into place. He knew what he wanted from his life in himself. Not seduced by societal standards yet society has given him a title he can be proud of.

Constantly going back to his village where he has a home to inspire the kids around him. Being living proof that we are all human beings with the potential to reach heights we had never seen for ourselves.

I’ll leave you with something that keeps me going in my own personal journey. In conclusion, you cannot pour from an empty cup, so fill yourself my fellow people and pour into the world with your abundance.

The Journey to Self motivational video



5 thoughts on “The Journey To Self

  1. Fantastic read. This is what one needs to read when feeling like all is stacked against them. If you truly know what you want, if you truly desire the future you see for yourself, you will go after it and achieve it at all costs.
    “Time and experience are not parallels and should not be treated as such” . Such a simple truth we don’t often realise.

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