Writer, journalist and aspiring academic Nokwanda Ncwane shares her journalistic journey. Image: Supplied

Meet Nokwanda Ncwane: Budding journalist with big dreams

From a young age, Nokwanda Ncwane already decided that she would one day make her mark in the media industry as a journalist.


Writer, journalist and aspiring academic Nokwanda Ncwane shares her journalistic journey. Image: Supplied

Having been born and raised in an impoverished and crime-ridden community certainly did not deter The South African’s Nokwanda Ncwane from realising her dream of becoming a writer and journalist. Instead, growing up in Umlazi, south of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, motivated her to work even harder to rise above her circumstances.


  1. Nokwanda Ncwane was born on 12 April 1997 and was raised by a single mother with her three siblings in Umlazi. She relocated to Tshwane in 2021. 
  2. The 25-year-old is the first in her family to graduate from university having completed her National Diploma in Journalism at the Durban University of Technology (DUT).
  3. Her first article was published in the now-defunct Ayama Magazine during her gap year in 2015.
  4. Her byline has appeared in the Sunday Independent, The Star and Pretoria News.
  5. She had a stint at the Durban newsroom of the SABC when she was in her first year at DUT and worked alongside the late veteran news reader Scelo Mbokazi
  6. She volunteered at Shell and BP South African Petroleum Refineries (Sapref), writing newsboard articles as a trainee in the refinery’s production department.
  7. In 2020, she was encouraged by her DUT lecturer to join The South African’s #gig4students programme to hone her writing skills and build her portfolio.


Nokwanda has embraced the “virtual office” created by The South African’s remote working environment.

“The people are kind and are always available to help with anything should one need assistance. The bonus is that working hours are flexible.”


For as long as she can remember, Nokwanda wanted to be a journalist and credits her news-loving mother for igniting and nurturing the fire inside her.

“Growing up, my mom would come home from work with newspapers and every day we would watch the news on at least three TV channels. She would say one should not go to sleep without knowing what is going on in the world and that news channels report the same events in different ways. That is how I got to know about angles.

“So, from as young as 10, I was already cutting out articles and would always try to translate and study them.”

No wonder then that her keen knowledge of current affairs and history have always set her apart from her peers — even when she enrolled for her National Diploma in Journalism at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) in 2019.

Calling all young women writers! Click here to find out about ‘The South African’s’ Women in Journalism programme

“My teachers always said something sets me apart and when I got to university, my lecturers shared the same sentiment and would say my work is exemplary.”


“I’ve learnt that hard work pays off. I’m still in awe of the fact that out of the huge amount of students who joined the #gig4students programme, I’m the only one who has been given the opportunity to join the news team in the end… all thanks to Cornelia le Roux [the lifestyle editor who championed the mentoring programme],” Nokwanda enthuses.

She says working at The South African has also taught her the importance of owning up to one’s mistakes.

“You won’t get it right all the time, so if you publish an article with mistakes or incorrect info, it’s important to take responsibility and do better next time.”

Looking back at the time before joining The South African, Nokwanda cherishes the opportunity to realise her dream of working for a newspaper while print publications were still thriving.

“My byline appeared in a couple of newspapers when I was still a student and I did my internship at Pretoria News, which is owned Independent Media. Working for The South African has enabled me to keep up with the shift to digital media and the demands of the modern news consumer.”

Nokwanda says she is driven by the need to keep the public informed. One day, she wants to become an investigative journalist, despite the dangers associated with it in South Africa. She also aspires to become an academic in the future.

“I want to become an academic as there aren’t many black scholars. It bothers me that I seldom see surnames I can relate to when doing referencing. Apart from that, I love academic writing and seeing my name on scholarly work would be a dream come true. My DUT lecturers – Tony Manyangadze and Sphelele Ngubane – has been a true inspiration in this aspect of my future aspirations” .


“Choose journalism because it’s something you’re passionate about. Passion sets you apart from the rest and even if you’ve had bad days or things aren’t as rosy, passion is what fuels you to get up the next day,” Nokwanda advises.

She also encourages students to be resourceful and reap the benefits of volunteering.

“It’s important to gain as much experience as you can so that you can add to your portfolio of work. Don’t wait for your final year!”


Nokwanda says if she did not pursue a career in journalism, she would be a chef as the kitchen is her “happy place” — whether she’s cleaning, baking or cooking up a storm.

“During my first year of studies, I lived at a student residence and other students assumed I was pursuing a qualification in hospitality because of my cooking ventures. We had a common kitchen, so whenever I was cooking, especially on Sundays, everyone would call me ‘chef’ and gather to watch whileI prepared my ‘seven colours‘.”

Click here to read Nokwanda’s articles.