For some of us it may be difficult to remember what it is we were doing at age fourteen, but fourteen-year-old South African Karabo Nkoli has already reached a milestone few will ever even dream of. He has penned and recently published a book titled Whispers of Life, becoming one of South Africa’s youngest authors. He has done so with the goal of inspiring his peers and the youth of his country to aspire, rise up, and be all they can be in their personal lives and within society.

What inspired you to write your book Whispers of Life?

I was inspired to write Whispers of Life because of my role model Nelson Mandela and how he dedicated his life to service. He was determined to bring change to South Africa. Through the kind of things he said as a leader I had the courage to believe that I will be the reason for change and not a victim of change.

What is the central message of your book?

For South African people to stand up and take their place in society, exercising their God-given talents in becoming the new leadership. My book speaks about topics from mothers to violence, dreams to forgiveness and prayer. My book Whispers of Life is a call to eschew mediocrity and be the best you possibly can be.

You’ve written your book to try and inspire others but who are your role models that you look up to and who inspire you?

My role models are leaders whom have dedicated their lives to service. The people who inspire meare Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Martin Luther King, Jr., Archbishop B.S Zondo, Albertina Sisulu, Mrs Graça Machel, and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. I want to live to bring change and dedicate my life to service even greater than they have, as they’ve paved the way for me.


Did people take you seriously when you told them that you were in the process of writing a book?

I never told anybody, including my parents, that I was in the process of writing a book as I believed that it is very important to work hard in silence and let your success make the noise. My parents were shocked and happy at the same time when the publishers called them to talk about the book and to confirm if indeed a fourteen-year-old could write a book of wisdom like this.

What steps did you take to publish your book and was it difficult to find a publisher as such a young author?

It truly was very difficult because many publishers turned down my work and thought it was impossible that a fourteen-year-old could write such a book but I never gave up until I found publishers who wanted to publish my book. I knew where I wanted to head with this book, which was to ensure that all South Africans and Africans can find hope for a better future.

Do you plan on writing any more books in the future?

There are many other projects coming in the future and in 2017 I will have a book tour around the country with the goal of giving people hope.

You recently met ex-President Thabo Mbeki. What was that like and how did you experience him?

Paying ex-President Thabo Mbeki a courtesy call is one experience I’ll never forget. We spoke about self-servant leadership, how important it is to dedicate our lives to service and the role of the church in society. His words to me I’ll never forget were: “Karabo, you are the kind of leader South Africa needs and you have taken the right step as a leader.” My favourite part of the visit was when I handed him a signed copy of my book Whispers of Life and he handed me a copy of his book, The Thabo Mbeki I Know.

In your book you speak of a life with purpose. How do you think one leads a life of purpose?

Everyone has purpose because purpose is the foundation of one’s success. The truth is we are all gifted. The kind of careers people pursue is because of purpose. Purpose is the only thing that can bring everyone unto greatness and open doors for you. God has blessed each and every one of us to shine through purpose in ways that are as unique as our fingerprints.

In Chapter 11 of your book you speak of our country, South Africa. What are the main problems, in your opinion, that we are struggling with as a society and what are thoughts you wish to leave your readers with?

One of the main problems we are struggling with is the way in which we protest. I think there’s nothing wrong with protesting but it is not necessary to destroy the things we will be in need of tomorrow. When we burn schools and universities we actually destroy the future of millions of young South Africans who want to be educated. Another problem we face is racism. Racism has affected our country up to a point whereby politics get involved in sports. Our Minister of Sports, Mr. Fikile Mbalula, spoke of the fifty-fifty black and white quota for the Springboks Rugby Team and I find it as though colours in our country compete with one another and the nation needs to be reminded that sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sports can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers and it does not matter what colour you are – black or white – if you play well, go and represent your country. That should be the attitude people in South Africa should adapt to.

What message of hope do you have for young people?

We all have a limited time to live on earth and we should try to use that time to create a better world for all who live in it. It is very important that you find the purpose of your life and use your life to benefit other people through service because we rise by lifting each other up. We are all gifted and by using our gifts we change lives.

Whispers of Life launched in October 2017 and is available at bookstores for R150. Alternatively, contact Karabo Nkoli at

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