Dreaming big also means hard work, Top Billing sparks interest in design

Johannesburg – For Tshepang Konanisi and Karabo Zikalala, education is truly a key to success.

For Konanisi, it took Top Billing to spark a dream of building beautiful houses.

The genius from Diepsloot Extension 6 overcame many obstacles and achieved five distinctions in English, IsiZulu, accounting, life orientation and business studies.


Her success masks her difficult childhood. She grew up in a shack shared with her parents and two siblings.

Unfortunately, her mother passed away last week.

“While it cuts deep, I am glad she lived to see me scoring top marks in my matric year. She always wanted to see me climb up the ladder of success and never back down. Her dying wish was for me to make her proud and shame her enemies,” Konanisi said.

Commenting on her dream to be an architect, Konanisi said an episode of Top Billing, which featured luxurious homes, opened a door to dream beyond her circumstances.

“I will get disappointed every time I miss an episode of Top Billing. Not that I was obsessed with the show, but to see those beautiful buildings just hit a note with me. It was all about the houses for me. That’s when I knew that basically my love is architecture.”

She is a step closer to achieving her dream after she was accepted by the University of Johannesburg to study architectural technology, partly due to help from the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (Sacap).

The entity is the official regulator for the architectural profession with over 10 000 registered architectural candidates and professionals. Ntokozo Masango, the stakeholder relations manager at Sacap, said the agency discovered through a social media platform that Konanisi’s dream was to become a qualified professional architect and join a highly male-dominated profession.

“Her dream resonated well within Sacap because transformation of the architectural profession in terms of race and gender is one of the key strategic objectives,” Masango said.

“Once we had received her interest to study architecture and the financial challenges she faced before she can achieve her dream of becoming a professional architect, we immediately communicated with the minister of public works & infrastructure to consider awarding the aspirant professional architect a bursary.

The minister did not hesitate to award her a full bursary to study architecture.” According to Sacap’s data, in the 2017/18 financial year only 2 743 women where registered in its books while 7 992 were male.

Zikalala, from the dusty streets of Orange Farm, has a big dream of her own. She bagged seven distinctions for matric, including an impressive 86% for maths and 91% for science.

An alumnus of Leshata Secondary School in Orange Farm, Zikalala is studying biomedical engineering at Wits University this year and hopes to one day fulfil her dream of giving back to the community.

Reflecting on a tough 2020, Zikalala said Covid-19 made her realise that she was capable of doing anything regardless of the challenges ahead.

“Now I can confidently say nothing formed against me shall prosper,” she said.

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