Cheryl Benadie

Author, Speaker, Change Agent


I ran my first 5km trail run today.

Ok fine.  I wanted to run my first 5k, but I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was. So I ended up walking most of the way.

The only reason I signed up for the trail run in the first place was to prepare for the 10k that I’ve signed up for in September’s Cape Town Marathon. I needed something to challenge me to push past my fitness plateau. Although I’ve been working regularly with a personal trainer, my eating habits were sabotaging my results.

Admittedly, getting “in shape” is one of my lifetime battles.

As I study the value of whole person living (creating harmony in the areas of relationships, careers and finances) I am beginning to see how profoundly one aspect of life affects another.

I’ve lived as a victim for most of my life.

I didn’t choose that way of life. One could say that it was thrust onto me.

And I live in a country where we’d had deep trauma inflicted upon us by violence and hatred. (Not that we’re really that different from other countries – our social fractures are just closer to the surface.)

As a first generation professional (the first person in my immediate family to get a university qualification and enter into white collar work), the negativity, lack of resources, violence and fear I’d faced for years severely impeded  my success in life. I didn’t know how much until I participated in the Race of Life exercise. Twice.

The first time you do it, as the questions are asked, and you see the white people continually take steps forward, it makes you embarrassed. And then, it makes you sad. At the end, you are left holding anger that has no place to go.

And that’s how my country men live – walking around with invisible hand grenades, waiting to lay waste to the unfairness of inequality as if that is going to ensure restoration of a utopian state.

I’m tired of holding that hand grenade.

That feeling of “not enough and too much” has imploded too many times in my life, has left me voiceless and feeling powerless.

So now I want to move ahead, leaving the past behind and claiming my true personal power.

The truth is that the race of life involves so much MORE than race! The complexities of how success is defined, a person’s accountability for their lives, social capital (or the lack of it), the impending impact of the fourth industrial revolution, talent versus emotional intelligence… etc – there are too many factors contributing to how one navigates life. It is way more than the black and white divides that government agendas are forcing national thinking into.

All the political rhetoric is choking the hope of the current generation just trying to figure out what their future is going to look like.

Signing up for a 10km run was sparked by the passion I felt for others like me. The children of the disenfranchised who are trying to find their way in the forest of new freedoms.

Being the first in your family to get a university degree comes with a new frame of responsibility that no one has taught us how to navigate. Working within higher education over the past ten years, I have met resilient and phenomenal young people who are nothing short of heroes, based on everything they’ve overcome.

Their race is not over once they get their degree though. The hard-earned piece of paper is not a magic wand that transforms first generation white collar workers into confident professionals overnight.

The race goes on – there is more ground to gain from those already far ahead.

But what if we can help someone on one leg of their race?

Students on university campuses across the country are still struggling to have basic necessities like food and toiletries because most people are not aware of the funding shortfalls that still exist.

It’s not fair. But we can do something to help.

I can do something to help.

And so I’m going to #move4food so that I can help someone else run their race while I’m running mine.

Will you join me?


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