“I want children to know that their voices matter”

by Goodwill Thomo
I was bullied at school for seven years
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Miss South Africa 2020 Shudufhadzo Musida has launched her second children’s book. BYY chatted exclusively to her. By Goodwill Thomo

Former Miss South Africa Shudufhadzo Musida has always been willing to go to extraordinary measures to accomplish her dreams and goals. In 2021, Musida who is known for her grace and elegance, entered the literary world with the release of her very first children’s book Shudu Finds Her Magic.

Following its success, she’s now published her second book: I am Shudu, Discovering My Voice, Understanding My Strength. The book delves into thought-provoking subjects such as bullying, the search for one’s true identity, the significance of forgiveness, mental health education, the struggles faced by families who have been uprooted from their familiar surroundings, and the unbreakable bonds forged through friendships.

The book recounts Musida’s experiences of constantly moving to different cities with her mother, resulting in her always being the new girl in school and facing bullying.

Since being crowned Miss South Africa in 2020, Musida has shared her personal experiences of bullying at school. These experiences began when she relocated from the small village of Ha-Vhangani in Limpopo to Mpumalanga. Shudu has made it her mission to raise awareness and educate others about the harmful effects of bullying.

To uplift and empower young minds, her enchanting tale is intended to captivate children aged from 6 to 10, leaving an everlasting impact.

Tell us about your childhood

I grew up in 3 different places: Limpopo until I was eight years old, which was a wonderful part of my childhood–I was surrounded by a lot of love and joy. I was content because I was showered with love and joy.

I loved singing, dancing, and performing. I wasn’t naughty but skipped school sometimes because I wanted to hang out with my great-grandmother and never wanted to leave her.  When I was 8/9 years old, my family and I moved to Standerton in Mpumalanga. Then, we moved again to Secunda–for seven years, I endured the torment of being bullied until we relocated to Gauteng.

Tell us more about your parents

I had the privilege of being brought up in an environment filled with immense love and care. The influential figures in my life who played a pivotal role in shaping my character were my grandmother, aunt, and mother.

They imparted to me a set of unwavering principles. Their guidance and teachings have greatly influenced my work ethic, instilling within me a strong drive for success. It is due to the values they instilled in me that I find great fulfilment in engaging in philanthropic endeavours.

How is your relationship with your sister?

She’s 10 years younger than me. She is a nurturer and an incredible 17-year-old. She’s my protector and takes care of me. The other day I was sick and cold; I was at her birthday, and she took off her jacket to cover my feet because I wasn’t wearing socks and was feeling cold.

What have been some of the happiest and saddest moments in your life?

The moments that have brought me the most joy in my life are spending time with my loved ones, sharing laughter and dancing together. The saddest moment was losing my grandparents.

My grandmother was very strict, but she’s the reason why I’m so invested in my education—there were many sacrifices made for me. She taught me to love everyone. She was a caring woman in the community and wanted me to be accountable to God.  My grandfather was the sweetest man ever, super caring and loving.

What are your favourite stories or books from your childhood?

I loved Tuesdays with Morrie. It’s about attachment, the value of life and how we value it for the wrong reasons, and how we need to detach from materialistic things.

How has your life changed since being crowned Miss SA 2020?

The biggest change I’ve experienced is finding the courage to pursue my dreams, knowing that they can be achieved.

What are your hopes for young children?

Miss South Africa 2020 Shudufhadzo Musida
I strongly desire for them to realise the significant impact of their voices. They also deserve a seat at the table. Bullying is a topic that I deeply connect with on a personal level. I was drawn to sharing a story that delves into the complexities and lasting impact of this issue. I want children to know that their voices matter and they are not alone. The things that affect them are not pointless and they hold value.

Tell us more about your second book.

It’s about identity, anti-bullying, mental health education, bravery and the power of communities. It takes a village to raise a child. My book serves as a gentle reminder to children that self-assurance is key.

I’m filled with immense joy and satisfaction, as the book holds a special place in my heart, being dedicated to my beloved grandfather. The fact that his name will be immortalised fills me with an overwhelming sense of love and pride.

Please share your personal experience of being bullied.

I was bullied for seven years–it affected me where my identity was concerned and how I  saw myself. I had to realise that there was nothing wrong with me, but the bullying was a reflection of the society around me. I reframed my thinking.

I would tell parents not to take it lightly. Bullying, both in person and online, has become a serious problem in schools and has even resulted in fatalities. It’s crucial to address this issue by having open conversations with children and understanding their experiences.

It’s also essential to engage in conversation with the children who are bullies and understand their problems to offer assistance.

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