The 10 Most Famous Motivational Speakers in South Africa

Motivational speakers are individuals who speak with the intent of encouraging and inspiring their listeners. They aim to challenge their audience to take bold steps to become better individuals. Motivational speakers can present speeches at schools, organizations, worship centers, and events.

These motivational speakers are mostly people who have gone through challenging situations in life and have overcome them. They, in turn, use their story to encourage others who may be in similar or even worse situations. In South Africa, some motivational speakers have built a career and brand for themselves through their craft, and they have become so famous for the motivational speeches that almost every event organizer wants to have them speak. You will find this list of the 10 most famous motivational speakers in South Africa.

Most Famous Motivational Speakers In South Africa

In South Africa, there are many motivational speakers whose stories and wealth of knowledge are worth sharing. However, we have selected the most renowned of them in our list of most famous motivational speakers in South Africa.

1. Zipho Sikhakhane

  • Age: N/A
  • Active Since: N/A
  • Number of Books: 1
  • Other Endeavours: Business

Zipho Sikhakhane is a South African entrepreneur, writer, and motivational speaker. She grew up in KwaZulu-Natal and attended the University of Cape Town, where she bagged a degree in Business Science. She is also a graduate of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, where she earned Masters in Business Administration.

In her journey through life, Zipho Sikhakhane has encountered a lot of things – beginning from her childhood to her days as a student and even as she travels the world for business. These experiences have molded her into the woman she has become, and she has continued to inspire people through her story as a woman who is thriving.

She has articles in renowned magazines in South Africa and is a well-known motivational speaker whose influence spread across five different continents. She has given a TED Talk on the vision of Africa, and her motivational speeches usually revolve around women empowerment, poetry, entrepreneurship, leadership, and Africa’s capacity as a continent.

2. Dr. Maria Phalime

  • Age: N/A
  • Active Since: 2004
  • Number of Books: 5+
  • Other Endeavours: Medical Doctor, Author

Dr. Maria Phalime is a medical doctor, a coach, author, and motivational speaker. In 2004, Maria took the bold step of leaving the medical profession after her years of studying to become a writer. She writes both fiction and non-fiction. The fact that she made it to our list of famous motivational speakers in South Africa means that her decision to make a name for herself as an author was successful.

On leaving the medical line, Dr. Maria Phalime rebranded herself as an author, coach, leadership facilitator, and motivational speaker. You can agree that leaving her profession was a big leap of faith, and she also acknowledges this in one of her books titled Postmortem – The Doctor Who Walked Away.

She was inspired to start writing because, for her, leaving the medical field was challenging. After overcoming that challenge, she believed that sharing her story with others would help those in similar situations overcome them. The main ideas in her motivational speeches revolve around using your failure as a stepping stone, women and girl child empowerment, and thriving in the workplace. Some of her notable talks include TedX Johannesburg, Stanford Lake College, Proudly Primary Conference, and a long list of others.

3. Christopher Bertish

  • Age: 47 years old
  • Active Since: 2009
  • Number of Books: 2
  • Other Endeavours: Surfer, Adventurer

Christopher Bertish is a South African surfer who set a world record by traveling solo across the Atlantic Ocean for 93 days. He did this to raise funds for charity in South Africa to help less privileged children gain access to better education and other necessities. Chris is Someone who believes in positivity.

He has a philosophy that says, “starting with ourselves we make difference to others and our environment.” He always shares this philosophy with everyone at all events or occasions where he is invited to speak. Chris Bertish’s aim as a motivational speaker is to inspire people who listen to him to strive to be their best in all they do and to be and bring the change that the world needs.

With the money he gets from his appearances at events, Beritsh is able to support charity. His group, Chris Bertish – Impossible (CBI), donates a percentage of public speaking income to Foundation 93 and other charity organizations. He is the author of two bestselling books titled Stoked!: An Inspiring Story About Courage, Determination and the Power of Dreams and All In: No Turning Back, Giving Up Or Giving In (2021).

4. Miles Kubheka

  • Age: N/A
  • Active Since: N/A
  • Number of Books: 1
  • Other Endeavours: Entrepreneur – Founder, Vuyo Brands

Miles Kubheka is a talented public speaker who is good at inspiring and connecting with audiences of different ages and classes during these motivational talks. Like most motivational speakers, Miles has experienced both the good, bad and ugly sides of life and now uses his experience and wealth of knowledge to inspire people never to give up on their dream and be innovative.

Kubheka is a Wits University alumni where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Commerce. He also has a post-graduate diploma in business management and a master’s degree in governance and development, which he got from Gordon Institute of Business Science and Wits Business School, respectively. He is the author of Vuyo’s: From A Big Big Dreamer To Living The Dream (2016).

Miles Kubheka has worked with companies like Microsoft before starting his food brand called “Vuyo.” The process of making his brand accepted in the country was not easy as he had to face so many disappointments like low patronage and all. However, instead of giving up, he put his innovative spirit to action, and today his brand has become renowned around Johannesburg and Braamfontein. In his motivational speeches, he shares with his audience how he overcame his challenging moments. If you are an entrepreneur who is just starting, you may want to attend a conference where he speaks, as you may learn a thing or two from him.

5. Femi Adebanji

  • Age: N/A
  • Active Since: N/A
  • Number of Books: N/A
  • Other Endeavours: Customer Strategy

Femi Adebanji is a top-notch customer service speaker who is best known for helping organizations transform their customer services from novice to professional excellence. He holds a Master’s degree in Financial Economics and is a bestselling author with several motivating titles to his name, including “The Challenge of Greatness.” The books he has written are always available in conferences where he is invited to speak.

He has been hosted by many renowned organizations in South Africa who invited him to share great insights on leadership and customer strategy. Femi Adebanji has over 15 years of experience and a wealth of knowledge in leadership and customer service strategy. As such, it will be a great idea for those interested in learning about customer strategy and leadership.

Femi has been consulted to speak by top brands like Vodacom, FNB, Standard Bank, Unilever, Nedbank, Tiger Brand, etc.

6. Neal Petersen

  • Age: Born in 1967
  • Active Since: N/A
  • Number of Books: 2
  • Other Endeavours: Sailor

Neal Petersen has a very unique, inspiring story that is worth sharing. Neal was born disabled during the apartheid, and as a disabled boy, he learned how to sail in the waters of Cape Town.

From being that young disabled boy who had an interest in sailing, Neal became the first black man to sail around the world alone. It took him nine months to sail around the world in a small yacht which he made by himself and did this without the assistance of anybody. Neal Petersen believes that “there are no barriers,” and in his talks, he tries to share this idea with his audience.

For a man who had to face battles like childhood disability and poverty and overcame all of it, you can tell that he has a wealth of experience and knowledge to share. Neal has graced global platforms such as TedX, and in his talks, he speaks about leadership and living a significant life. One of the things that makes Neal Petersen’s talk very engaging is the fact that he stimulates conversation with his audience before and after his speech. This way, he tells how much they know and how receptive they have been to what he taught.

7. Vusi Thembekwayo

  • Age: 37 years old
  • Active Since: 2002
  • Number of Books: 2
  • Other Endeavours: CEO of MyGrowthFund & IC Knowledge Bureau

According to Vusi Thembekwayo’s official website, Vusi is so many things, and he is absolutely amazing. If you doubt this, consider attending an event where he has been invited to speak. He is a motivational speaker, a public business speaker, an entrepreneur, a family man, a businessman, and a self-made millionaire.

At the age of 25, Vusi ran an R400 million division in an R17 billion multi-national company. He has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine and Forbes. In South Africa, he is regarded as a force in venture capital. He is the author of two bestsellers – The Magna Carta of Exponentiality and Vusi: Business & Life Lessons from A Black Dragon (2009)

If you are interested in becoming a business mogul or organizing a business event, Vusi Thembekwayo will be a great idea. He is the type of public speaker that does not need a platform to talk business. His wealth of knowledge is not only being recognized in Africa but other continents as well. He has been invited to speak in places like London, Nairobi, Lagos, San Francisco, and the list goes on.

8. Pie-Pacifique Kabalira-Uwase

  • Age: 41 years old
  • Active Since: N/A
  • Number of Books: N/A
  • Other Endeavours: Author, Consultant

Pie-Pacifique Kabalira-Uwase is another motivational speaker in South Africa who was not born with a silver spoon and had to cut his childhood short of providing for his family. Rwandan-born Pie-Pacifique lost his father and age 9, and when his mother was imprisoned when he was only 14, he took up the challenge and became the family’s breadwinner. Fortunately for him, things went well, and he was able to continue his education, and he realized his love for science.

Following the Rwandan Genocide, which sadly took the life of his brother, Pie-Pacifique left his home country Rwanda for South Africa. In South Africa, he was still determined to live a life of significance and took up a job as a car guard, and was able to train himself through the University of Natal, where he graduated in 2006 with a degree in Physics. The same year he graduated, he was a Nelson Mandela Rhodes Scholar. He continued achieving great feats, and in 2010, he was named one of 200 Top South Africans by Mail and Guardian.

With his very inspiring grace-to-grass story, Pie-Pacifique now motivates other people to see that there’s always a way out of every struggle. As someone who knows what it feels like to be a refugee, he uses his free time to work with initiatives that support refugees in South Africa, especially children and women. From his story, he can tell that where there is a will, there is always a way.

 

9. Gayton McKenzie

  • Age: N/A
  • Active Since: Early 2000s
  • Number of Books: 7+
  • Other Endeavours: Businessman

Gayton McKenzie was a bank robber and a gangster who was convicted for his crime and served his sentence. However, after his release from prison, Gayton turned a new leaf. Instead of going back to crime, he diverted all of that energy into building a business, and today he is a businessman who owns diversified companies. He has businesses in food, transport, importation, entertainment, publishing, mining, logistics, and the list goes on.

It is undeniable that it takes great determination to move from a life of crime to becoming a multimillionaire. Gayton now goes from event to event and school to school to share his story about what it took him and all of the challenges he faced. He is also the founder of the Patriotic Alliance political party and has written a good number of books, including The Choice: The Gayton McKenzie Story (2006), The Hustler’s Bible: Words To Hustle By (2014), The Uncomfortable Truth (2013), Kill Zuma: By Any Means Necessary (2017) among others.

10. Phillip Ramphisa

  • Age: N/A
  • Active Since: N/A
  • Number of Books: 2
  • Other Endeavours: N/A

Philip Ramphisa is a South African motivational speaker who knows what it is like to grow up without a mother and father with practically nobody to advise or support him through life. His mother had schizophrenia and was never around for them because of her health. On the other hand, his father left him and his siblings to live with his second wife. As such, Phillip and his siblings, born by his mother, were left on their own.

It looked like a life of freedom, seeing that there was no one to stop them from doing whatever they wanted to do, but Phillip knew that he could not afford to follow the wrong path. Unfortunately, some of his friends who were in similar situations of lack became criminals, drug addicts, and alcoholics, but he didn’t join them. As he searched for a happier life, he watched his sisters become single mothers, and he felt sad that they had let their dreams go.

However, against all odds, he pulled through and built a good life for himself, and today he uses his story to encourage people who may also be going through situations that he has gone through. He has authored many self-help books, including Young, Wise, and Kick-S (2015) and Confidence for Success.

Recap Of The 10 Most Famous Motivational Speakers in South Africa

  1. Zipho Sikhakhane
  2. Dr. Maria Phalime
  3. Christopher Bertish
  4. Miles Kubheka
  5. Femi Adebanji
  6. Neal Petersen
  7. Vusi Thembekwayo
  8. Pie-Pacifique Kabalira-Uwase
  9. Gayton McKenzie
  10. Phillip Ramphisa
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Romeo Ndlovu
Romeo's secret talent is taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary content. At work, he is thinking about how best to provide the most unique, original content that provides utmost satisfaction to the user. Away from work, he is a football addict who loves to catch up on his favorite pastimes

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