One on One with SA’s young author of Infinite Teen

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Muhluri Sambo

“I overcame my problem of not having enough skills to write through constant practice, reading, extensive learning and engaging in social programmes”.

Usually when we think of the Youth the first thing that comes into mind is their loudspeakers playing hip-hop music and their obsession to social media platforms, such as, Twitter, facebook and Instagram. We never really think—Hmm, this one could be a published author in a year or two.

The youth is capable of so much more than just retweeting and posting hilarious memes. Once in a while we come across some of the most extraordinary young people that are changing lives of people around them, in communities and in the country at large. They have dedicated their lives to inspiring their peers and paving the way for younger generations.

Muhluri Sambo is one of these extraordinary young people that make us realise that there is still a chance for South African youth. He is only 18 years old and already a published author of an inspirational book. Muhluri was born in Malamulele, then raised between neighbouring villages of Phagwani and Gidjhamhandeni in the care of his grandparents.

“I had a very humble upbringing—typical village lifestyle—one that featured closeness with my cousins since all of our parents were in the city trying to make a living and support us”, he explains.

Growing up in a farming village he fell in love with the outdoors, where he spent most of his time running around and getting up to all sorts of mischief. In 2005 when he was only 4 years old, he relocated to Meadowlands, Soweto to begin his new life. He enrolled at Asha Pre-School in Dube. In 2007 just when he was beginning to adapt to the environment and find his place, his family moved to Protea Glen and the next year he enrolled at a new school, Discovery Primary school in Roodepoort. Sambo states that moving to an advanced school was challenging for him, since his knowledge of English was poor at the time.

“To this day, my grade 3 teacher Mrs. Molele still jokes that; one would never have thought that I had a future in literature and speaking, because I struggled so much with English” said Sambo

Now in his final year of high school, Sambo is not only tackling heavy loads of academic work, but he is also the Vice-President of the RCL Committee. When he is not being too serious for his age, he dedicates his time to playing soccer and a game of chess. We managed to borrow a few minutes from this extraordinary young man, and this is what he had to say;

Did you always show interest in writing as a child?

Not at all, it was just an ability that I never really cared about. I loved soccer and wanted to play it professionally.

How did your writing career start?

It started in March of 2016, when my best friend Koketso Mathole came over for the holidays. We wanted to find something that was going to generate us money, and that’s when he told me about how Mzansi Magic buys manuscripts from local writers. So, we figured we could write a movie script and sell it to them. We immediately got working—Day in and day out we worked and completed our first movie script. However, after all our hard work and sleepless nights we felt that the script wasn’t quite good. So, from that day on we vouched to work hard and improve our writing skills.

Have you ever taken writing classes?

No, I’ve never taken any writing classes.

Tell us a bit about your book?

The title of the book is Infinite Teen and it is a self-help book that empowers teenagers to live beyond the boundaries, by exploiting the infinite opportunities that life has in store for them. Teenage-hood is not just all about: rebellion, crime, substance abuse, teenage pregnancies or dropping out of school. Teenage-hood is a stage of exploring and surpassing the boundaries and with Infinite Teen, teenagers are guaranteed to achieve morality, a desire to succeed and skills for personal independence that can help them achieve their dreams as teenagers or in their adult-life. 

How did you get the idea for this book?

The idea began in mid-2016 after many failed writing projects, because I was trying to write on many topics that were foreign to me. One day I sat down and observed my failures, then I took a step back and began to think about where I left off with my soccer career. The main motive to becoming a soccer player was not just passion, but also to use my career as an inspiration to many young black children, particularly the ones living in the village. From that point on I stopped thinking about the money I’d make through writing, but the change I could ignite with my gift.

Who would you say is your target market?

In the beginning it was only teenagers, but after many reviews from the parents of my earlier customers, my target market has become both parents and teenagers.

How long did it take you to complete Infinite Teen?

It took me 3 Years, from 2016 up until May 2019

How do you feel about this achievement?

I’m totally overwhelmed.

Besides writing is there something else you’re great at?

Public speaking, soccer and acting

Is writing just a hobby or do you see a future in it?

I really see a future in it.

What do you aspire to be in the future?

I’d like be an international influencer, writer, speaker, actor and director in the film industry.

You seem so disciplined and humble; will it be right to assume that you were always like this growing up?

Not quite, I was a very troublesome child in primary school. I used to fight regularly, in and out of school —to a point that I nearly got suspended; that was the wake-up call that led to my major transformation.

What do you hope your book will accomplish?

Helping teenagers become infinite; reducing alarming rates of teenage depression and suicides, improving relationships between teenagers and their parents, self-motivation for teenagers and encouraging teenage involvement towards economic growth.

In the making of this book did you encounter any difficulties. If so, elaborate and mention how you overcame them.

I encountered many: from not having the skill to write, adequate vocabulary, lack of parental support and the fear of breaking my boundaries. I definitely can’t say I didn’t have resources, because everything is a resource especially a phone.

I overcame my problem of not having enough skills to write through constant practice, reading, extensive learning and engaging in social programmes. This helped me expand my view and understand the world better. For my vocabulary, studying the dictionary did the job. Every word I came across anywhere I’d note down and at times I’d even look through the dictionary for any interesting words to learn.

My parents, just like any other parents in the world, feared the worst for my future. They were concerned about job security, and in this day and age, such concerns are expected as many artists are failing to make it. Late last year when they caught a glimpse of the level of my work; they were assured that I’d make it, and today they’re my number 1 supporters. In terms of my fear, I had to learn to accept that I was formed by God and had a purpose to fulfil.

You’re so young and you’ve already accomplished something so many people, young and old, struggle with—what is your message to young people out there that might like to explore their creative talents, but have no clue how or where to start?

Since I started writing, nothing worked out until the day I involved God in my work. I had to learn that it is only through God that everything works out. He gave me this gift, so he certainly had to direct me on the path that I should take.

Simply put, let God lead the way and every piece of the puzzle will combine. Another important thing to add, is that you must be extremely knowledgeable about everything related to your product—book, song, invention etc. People don’t buy what’s ordinary, they buy what’s extra-ordinary—life-changing products. In terms of marketing, knock on every door that is on your path, you just never know what ordinary strangers have to offer; I found the right door after meeting Mpilo Kabasa Dilika.

Is there anything else special we should expect from you soon?

Definitely more books, social media vlogs, motivational videos, involvement in youth programmes through speaking, Infinite Teen empowerment programmes, and Literacy empowerment in disadvantaged communities.

How can people support you? Tell us how we can get a copy your book?       

To get a copy of my book just contact me on this number: 067 127 9474

Where can everyone follow you for more of your amazing work?

Follow me on my Social media pages in order to stay updated on the Infinite Teen movement.

YouTube—Muhluri Sambo                                                    

Facebook—Muhluri Sambo/Infinite Teen

Instagram—Infinite_Teen1

This young man’s story is reminder to all parents to always support their children’s talents no matter how small they might seem at the time. Children flourish with positive support from parents or guardians, any small talent of theirs can manifest into something extraordinary. So, always keep your eye on those seemingly childish scribbles your child makes, because you just never know where the next best-selling author will come from.

By Tebogo TJ Mphatswe