Written by Mfundo Jiyane, SSA Youth Influencer Gauteng
Hello everyone, meet Watshepagala Matlawe, known in Scouting by the nickname “Simba” which was given to him by his fellow Cub mates as just like Simba in the Disney movie “The Lion King”, Watshepagala is adventurous, inquisitive and energetic in all their activities!
“I am the first born of my very beautiful mother, Lydia Matlawe” he says with a smile. “I come from a family of people who are full of love and care, who are hard workers, and who are Scouting orientated as both my uncles are involved in this phenomenal Movement of Scouts! My one uncle Theo Matlawe is a Scout Group Leader, and my other uncle Ishmael Matlawe is a Troop Scouter and also the Development Officer of the North West Scout Region.”
“Both of them are from the 1st Vaal Reefs Scout Group, one of the best performing Scout Groups in the Region”, he continues proudly. ” We have produced the first Springbok Scout in over 10 years – Atlegang Paul Moseki, and also the 1st ever Leaping Wolf Cub – which is me! Also, one of our Scouts Refiloe Laila Mpholo has been chosen to represent the North West at the 25th World Scout Jamboree in South Korea in 2023.”
Watshepagala, who is currently a Sixer in his Cub Pack, started his Scouting journey at a very young age of 7. “Scouting has played a very unique role in building my character and personality”, he says. “It has improved my self-esteem, self-confidence, and also has taught me how to respond to life situations, how to care and treat mother nature as a precious treasure from God, and mostly it has instilled discipline in me as to respect everyone regardless of age, race, and gender.
I was also involved in many community services in my journey to complete my Leaping Wolf. My Group did cleaning activities in my community and I got involved to try and leave this world a better place than we found it. One of the projects we did was at an old age home called ‘Mmabana Old Age Care Center’ in the township Kanana. We cleaned the hall and the yard, and helped with giving the old people there food. Even the Scouts where involved and it was a joyful day for everyone! I also did the Tide Turner’s Plastic Challenge for a healthy and clean environment. I believe that by doing all that and other Scouting activities I have impacted my local community in a good way.” The activities facilitated by the Scout Group we noticed in their community as they attracted more Scouting members which helped their Group grow.
Watshepagala managed to overcome the difficulties of juggling school work and completing his Leaping Wolf. “My biggest challenge was to balance school work and Scouting, to reach my Scouting goal which was to complete my Leaping Wolf Award, and to pass with flying colors at school”, he says. “Almost every day after school I had to do my homework and then at least give attention to the tasks that I had to complete to get my Leaping Wolf. I used to attend every Cub meeting and do what was needed from me. I managed to do all that with the help and support I got from my Pack Scouter Lerato Cilishane who was my guider and mentor throughout my journey.
I had to complete my Challenge Awareness badges and other Interest badges. To achieve that, I learned how to plan and work on my own, to the best of my abilities and to not depend on fellow Scouting members at all times. It was not easy for me but with what I learned in Scouting I managed to do it. I made a Promise to always do my best and make a positive contribution to my community and Scouting.
I also want to say that I am proud to have a supportive grandpa (Isaac Matlawe) like mine who encouraged me all the time and who mostly became a pillar of strength and all I needed. With his moral support and the guidance he gave me, I managed to achieve the award”, concludes Watshepagala.
“I want to see Watshepagala as a Chief Scout of South Africa one day”, says his mother Lydia with a smile. “I believe with all he has achieved it has actually proven to us that he has an ability and interpersonal skills to peruse any dream he wants. All thanks to the Movement of Scouting.
I felt proud of him as it was one of the precious memories I will never forget in my life. To see my child achieving the highest award in Cub’s and also being the first in his Region to obtain the Leaping Wolf, As a parent I came across a few challenges as my child was still very young and very committed to his schoolwork. I had difficulties with encouraging him to make space for Scouting. I would usually help him to draw a time table for his daily work. Through all that, he still stays shining. Scouting has given him confidence and to be active in whatever he does as he has gained leadership skills and is now a Class Monitor at school.
I would encourage parents to get their kids in the Scouting Movement as it is the foundation of discipline, it is educational and makes a child carry responsibility in any event or activity wherever required”, says Lydia firmly.