Former UP student Buntu Majaja has reached the Top 25 round of the Mr South Africa competition. Majaja holds a degree in chemical engineering and is currently studying business administration part-time at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) while working full time as a management consultant with a global management firm. Perdeby spoke to Majaja, who discussed his participation in the Mr South Africa pageant and the journey so far.
What is your favourite part of this pageant?
I think what has been quite inspiring and humbling is meeting all the other contestants. As much as you know you are working hard and you are putting in the time, putting in the graft to try and make your vision a reality, it is really inspiring when you meet so many other men who are doing the same thing and they are really making an impact in the country. Without a doubt their journeys and hearing more about them, that is really inspiring and that by far is one of the things that has been a big take away.
How has this journey been? What have you learnt so far?
It’s been quite gruelling, exciting, and fearing at the same time because personally I had to take myself outside of my comfort zone. I studied engineering and I was always an academic person, but I’ve always had this passion in me for people, for community and just for wanting to engage. When I saw the platform, when I understood it, I thought then “Why not give it a try?”
Have you had any specific challenges that you’ve faced so far?
With every negative there’s a positive. I always believe that there is no good or bad, it’s how you see it. But something for me that was really challenging was in the beginning when we had to try and get a sponsor and get branding. That for me was really challenging. It was something that we never really did, but I took the challenge on and tried until the last day. I communicated with lots of brands, even though I did not get a sponsor. Afterwards, in the continuous communications many of them came back to me and now we are still in communication creating value. So in that experience it was really disheartening being on the phone everyday during lunchtime because I’m also working now. I’m working full-time and during lunchtime I would go on the phone and I would make these calls everyday, but persistence is the only way.
How are you preparing for the pageant?
I’ve always valued a healthy body, a healthy mind. [For] instance I’m a black belt in taekwondo. I was actually here at Tuks because they offer this and I would definitely say anybody in the university should look at these extra-mural activities that you could take part in. So I have always been training, but when it came to [the competition] I realised that it’s really time to level up a notch so: going to gym twice a day, taking in your proteins, cutting down on the carbs and even though I was active before now, my mind I feel is so much more alert. Even the food I am taking is more vegetables and it really is an eye-opener in terms of “what you really put into your body you take out”.
What’s it like knowing that you’re a role model and that young men will look up to you?
It’s a humbling thought because in the communities that [we] have grown up in, there aren’t many role models, and to think that even if I can touch one life, that is all that will make it worth it. To see the potential in the youth’s eyes, that is even sort of a role model thing for me because they are so driven. They are so excited about life, despite some of the things that surround them. That’s something I can look up to, so I hope that I can contribute and at the same time I’m even being fulfilled myself and being inspired through that experience.
Did your family play large role in supporting you throughout this competition?
Definitely, definitely. Your support system, the people around you, are very important. When you wake up, dress up and show up, you’re not just showing up for yourself, you’re showing up with a village of a thousand or your family. Personally, my family, my friends, there’s many close people – even business associates that I work with – and my beautiful girlfriend that is always positive. And when I can go to my family and just tell them about a challenge, they listen – even when they don’t really understand what you may be going on about, the point is that they’re listening and that is really what matters.