“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
When I was three years old, my dad made me a pair of wooden wings and told me that if I practiced enough, I could learn how to fly. I raced around our garden for hours but soon realized that my efforts were in vain. I see now that those wings symbolize my father's belief in my ability to achieve "the impossible."

Ten years later, Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited my school in Cape Town to pass on some insight on his struggle against apartheid. He told us that we had "infinite worth, limitless potential" and that we should never allow circumstances to make us believe otherwise. I am fortunate that I have had the encouragement and opportunities to live by his advice.

Yet, just five miles away from where I grew up, children do not have fathers to make them "wings," nor role models to inspire them. It is not a lack of talent that puts African children at a disadvantage. It's the fact that their parents often do not have the resources to inspire them to achieve their dreams.

For generations, structural change in Africa has seemed impossible. But while she is a "forgotten continent," her children, too, have "infinite worth, limitless potential." Just as I had tried to fly as a three-year-old, now is the time to focus on the next impossible challenge: implementing change in the continent that has given so much to me, but so little to many of its other children.

In the years that follow, I hope to "pay it forward" by passing on my "wings" to the next generation of African children, so that they, too, can joyously race around gardens and learn how to fly.


— Nathalie duPreez