Influencer: A key individual with an extensive network of contacts, who plays an active role in shaping the opinions of others within some topic area, typically through their expertise, popularity, or reputation. This definition from the Oxford Dictionary of Social Media describes a word which was only recognised as an official word in the English language in 2019!
Dr Emmanuel Taban was the guest of honour at our 19 March prize giving, where he sponsored awards for our lockdown stars. (See our April newsletter.) The launch of his book, “The Boy Who Never Gave Up” later that week pushed him further into the spotlight as it has enjoyed significant success and many weeks on the Exclusive Books top 20 bestseller list.
It is with great pleasure that we welcome Dr Taban as our first Ambassador. A Ruth First Ambassador needs to be an esteemed member of the community who is passionate about the education of young women and is a significant influencer in his sphere of service.
And Dr Taban more than meets all these requirements. With almost 4 500 friends on Facebook, a growing media profile and a strong presence in the medical community as a pioneer of groundbreaking Covid treatment, he is an influencer of note. His cohort of three daughters plus an adopted niece, together with his belief that the education of girls is the key to the development of the African continent make for a perfect match.
This strategic move of appointing Ambassadors is aimed at widening our footprint and enhancing our fund-raising capacity, particularly during these difficult days of the Covid pandemic.
Dr Taban’s relationship with Jeppe goes back to 1998, when Kevin Tait was headmaster at the Boys’ School. As a twenty-year-old, living at the Catholic Mission in Highland Road, Kensington, Emmanuel approached the deputy head in charge of admissions and asked him if he could repeat his Matric at Jeppe Boys. He was attracted by the smart blazers of the schoolboys – believing these to be indicative of a place where he could work hard and achieve the marks required to guarantee a university entrance. In return, the school responded to his compelling story and, as an exception to normal practice, granted him admission.
From that reset at Jeppe Boys, Emmanuel went on qualify as a pulmonologist at Wits and to be nominated as one of the 100 Most Influential Africans of 2020. His story of resilience and incredible grit is an inspiration to all of us in the Ruth First community. And we are appreciative of and excited about the role which he will play in representing the Ruth First Trust in the many forums where he interacts.
Dr Taban is pictured above with Tshaamano Mabuba, head girl and Ruth First Scholar.