Defying The Odds Through Beadwork.

Out of 1,3 Billion physically challenged people on planet earth, ( Stats taken from article March 2017 ). Nokwethemba Vilakazi is a beautiful young lady who goes beyond the expectations of people and what they think about people like her. She’s indeed in service of expanding her possibilities to show the world what people like her are capable of.

She is not defined by her disability as she achieved great things in her life and life proves that you can become everything and anything your imagination desires.

Her beautiful smile is likely the first notable feature on her face that gives hope to the hopeless. I got carried away by her words before drafting her story when she said, “You do not know how much of self – an appreciation I felt when I was writing this piece. “Sometimes we get caught up and forget the good things about ourselves”, she said.

What a force to be reckoned with. Join her as she shares her experiences and be inspired.

Defying the odss

Defying the odds

A firstborn of 8, I grew up in Nkandla and was raised by my mother and grandmother. My mother is Nomusa Vilakazi and my father is Joseph Vilakazi, whom I lost contact with when I was 3 or 4. I was privileged to study Cultural and Heritage Tourism ( Bachelor of Arts ) and graduated in 2015 from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. I’m currently an intern in one of the biggest cellular network providers, residing in Umlazi.

I have a condition called Osteogenesis Imperfecta. It slows down growth in my body and weakens my bones. Growing up I constantly had breathing problems which was a challenge and it saddened me.

Due to Nkandla not having schools catering to my disability, I started school very late. In my waiting period before finding a proper school to cater to my disability, I developed a strong passion for drawing, writing, and doing beadwork. Am grateful for my grandmother because she taught me how to read, write and count meanwhile I waited.

I learned beadwork from a neighbor who sold beads for a living. Over the years I mastered the patterns and techniques necessary. In high school, I stopped making beads. When I went to varsity, that’s when my passion got rejuvenated, especially if I could see a friend’s neckpiece turned. I’ll always offer to redo it. That’s when I realized how much beadwork gave me fulfillment.

As much as beadwork brought in business ideas, most of all, It made me stand out and feel recognized and accepted. Through beads, I found my voice and it was heard and appreciated so much that my heart got fulfilled.



Growing up in Nkandla was challenging. People reacted differently toward me, for reasons known to them. Kids were very curious, understanding, and helpful, however, some older people had very painful things to say about me and held on to such bad stereotypes about the reason why I was in my state. They’ll make comments like my family should have left me in hospital or orphanage homes. This sadly made me feel unaccepted in my community.

I had a strong support system from my family. My grandmother never wanted to hide me, every time she gave me compliments and repeatedly encouraged me to speak up, not allow anyone to speak anyhow about me no matter how big or strong they might be. She treated me like everyone, I had my chores and she made sure that I performed them to the best of my ability. I was very competitive, even though I hadn’t found a suitable school for me. When my grandmother was taking care of other people’s houses to provide for us, she carried me wherever she went, just to make sure that I was able to ask her questions and learn more words and numbers. Her efforts paid off because I found the school in umlazi (Mason Lincoln Special School) in 2003 and matriculated in 2010. As expected, I skipped many classes in between, I was that smart.

I had my chores and my grandmother made sure that I performed them to the best of my ability.


Defying the odds

Over the years I’ve been alive, I think I have become more normal. Normal in the sense that, I am more understanding and I no longer take things personally. But also I am not scared to speak up, more than anything, I just want to be out there living large with the rest of the world. I have become so confident and regarded myself very highly that it is much easier for the next person to know what I’m about and approach me in case they have questions or just wanna build up a friendship. The fear of being rejected can somehow build this unapproachable aura around you. It blocks everyone away Including the people that loved and care for you.

To those who care for me as a person, I’m always grateful. And to those negative energy around me, I always pray to be more understanding and share as much about me not to make them feel pity but be enlightened. Most people are uninformed so I become more understanding.

I want to be a doctor, a soldier, a fashion designer, a singer, a preacher, etc dreams change. I think more than anything I ever wanted, independence and self-acceptance has been my greatest accomplishment.

My aspirations include:

  • Building an empire Nokwethemba Arts and Craft Academy across Africa.
  • Working for the United Nation or an organization as big as that, focusing on ways to give free quality education and skills to every child born with any special need.
  • Having my beadwork featured in movies like Black Panther, and Showcase in New York Fashion week.
  • Being a guest speaker on TEDx will be amazing.
  • Publish life-changing books.

I have achieved great things in my life. One of the highlights in my life was the beadwork I did for Black Coffee in 2017. And showcasing my work in the Food, Fashion, and Music Awards.
Winning the shining light Award 2020.

To everyone out there reading, I have a word for you :

I always remind myself that I have seen, heard, breathed, felt, and eaten failure, how about success now?
Learn to stand up for yourself, against people but most importantly against you. People will eventually learn to adjust to your greatness, but you will never know the outcome if you don’t take action to change your life. I’ve learned to ask myself ‘Why not me? ‘ rather than ‘Who am I -? Take up space and do your best.


A woman is full of life and resilience. Her inspiring story brings hope to the hopeless, to keep believing, and not to lose heart. Greatness awaits you.

She defies all odds and the future looks bright for this young dynamite lady.

For bookings with regards to her speaking services and beads, this is her contact details :

WhatsApp: 0670762123

Facebook: ( Nokwethemba Vilakaxi )

Instagram: ( Nokwethemba Vilakazi )

From my heart to yours



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