Redi Tlhabi has spent her career using various platforms to tell the stories of those whose voices are either overlooked, or simply need to be amplified. The 39-year-old Johannesburg native is an author, TV and radio personality, producer, activist and member of the UN Global Journalists Corps. Over the course of her career, she has worked for some of South Africa’s most respected media and news brands, including Kaya FM, SABC, SKY, the BBC, eNews and more. She once produced a controversial documentary on former South African president Thabo Mbeki, and produced and presented two TV shows—Redi on Mzansi for Mzansi Magic and South to North—for Al Jazeera. However, the most impressive thing about Tlhabi is not where her work has been featured. It is how women’s issues and sparking important conversations are at the crux of her most important projects.
In 2008, Tlhabi hosted a miniskirt march to protest sexist taxi drivers. In 2015, she marched to the Union Buildings in solidarity with students in the #FeesMustFall campaign. The mother of two also released a best-seller, Khwezi: The Remarkable Story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo, at the end of 2017, which focuses on sexual violence in South Africa against young women. Tlhabi kept none of the funds from the robust book sales—publishers had to print two runs of Khwezi in the first two weeks of its release—but instead had all proceeds go to Khwezi’s surviving family. (The HIV-positive woman who testified that former South African president Jacob Zuma raped her, passed away in 2016.) She released her first book, Endings and Beginnings, in 2012 and received the Alan Paton Award a year later.
For Tlhabi, who earned a B.A. in Communication and B.A. Honors from the University of Johannesburg, the learning never stops. After a 12-year radio career with 702’s Afternoon Drive, Tlhabi left her position for a U.S. fellowship to expand her broadcast knowledge. But of course not before working with local and international stakeholders to put together a campaign against sexual violence.