Technology makes it possible. People make it happen.
This week we spoke with final year Mechanical Engineering student Wisani Shilumani. Wisani is the founder of Chapters of Change, an organisation that aims to provide free textbooks to students who cannot afford them. He is also the co-founder and director of Jalapeno Digital, a digital marketing agency that focuses on web and app development.
His passion for technology, that was sparked at an early age playing computer emulated arcade games, he says, revealed worlds of immeasurable possibilities to him. With power, comes responsibility. History has left our continent with much to be addressed. Wisani is fixed on the idea that if people and technology are in synchronicity, much of the inherited problems can be alleviated. The goal of technology, he says, has always been to further humanity, and it should be used as such going forwards.
In our current context, many have been left feeling disappointment by leadership structures; and powerless under the behemoth of inequality. “Change was sort of left to us…one of the biggest costs and determining factors for academic success for students is textbooks – and a lot of us have dust collecting textbooks sitting at home doing nothing. We hold a lot of dormant power; potential energy - that could ‘spring’ us in a better direction.”
On one mosquito populated night in Limpopo, during the December vac, Wisani, with no clear plan, popped up Photoshop and a text editor and created a website that prompted students to donate textbooks. He followed this by a content piece on Facebook and LinkedIn that received support and allowed for the construction of a clear plan with help from lecturers and student councils. Chapters of Change was born.
“Our [engineering] minds are like unswung pendula. We have so much useful knowledge in our minds that can be used to better the lives of people.”
The organisation now works with the EBESC and you can donate your own textbooks to the Student Council Office opposite Green Lab (Level 3 Menzies) to help a student following a similar path to you.
Wisani says that running the organisation and the business, having always been introverted, has made him realise the importance of working with people and asking for help. “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. The future of our continent lies in working together.”