Sapinda Rainbow Ambassador Sbu, a former gang member and high school dropout, became the first black South African to sail the iconic Sydney Hobart Race as part of the 2013-14 Clipper Race. After his sailing adventure, he went back to school and obtained a 3-year apprenticeship at the Department of Public Works (May 2017). In addition, the authorities have now asked Sbu to become a speaker at schools to assist in the fight against crime and drugs.
Masibulele “Sbu” Liyaba was raised by his grandmother in Orkney, in the North West Province in South Africa, in very challenging conditions. At an early age, he fell into the wrong crowd and dropped out of school. Gangs, violence and drugs are hard realities for many South African youngsters and a way of life that is hard to break away from. It was no different for Sbu.
However, in 2013, Sbu joined an organisation supported by the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and got the opportunity to join the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation. Sbu had never before seen the ocean or flown a plane, but he was selected for the 2013-14 Clipper Round The World Yacht Race, which took him to Australia, where Sbu was the first black South African to participate in the notoriously difficult Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
At the Nelson Mandela Foundation Charity Gala in Berlin in January 2014, Sbu also showed himself to be a gifted speaker in front of an impressive audience including the German Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Zindzi Mandela.
Since participating in the Race, the SRF has supported Sbu in his efforts to pass his matric and study engineering. He performed well in classes and impressed his lecturers with his performance and behaviour. Sbu is a hard working young man, who, rather than being academically inclined, shows true potential for a practical calling.
The North West Province, when hearing about Sbu from our Social Projects Coordinator Ntombi, wanted to support Sbu and use his story as an example to motivate young people around Orkney, area very much affected by crime and drugs.
In May 2017, the Department of Public Works in North West and Construction SETA offered Sbu a 3-year apprenticeship contract. In return, Sbu will visit schools around the area to sensitise youngsters about the dangers of drugs and gangsterism and to convince them that there are ways to turn their lives around.
Sbu embodies what the Sapinda Rainbow Foundation stands for. His remarkable journey shows that, with the right attitude and support, even the most underprivileged can break free from the strongholds that perpetuate economic disadvantage, poverty and crime. Staying true to his own life motto “I am the master of my destiny and the future is in my hands”, Sbu is now becoming a face of change, and a beacon of hope for his community.