Since 2019, Samuel Hlonyana helped thousands of South Africans lose weight through his sugar-free programme.
His #90DaysWithoutSugar challenge is frequently the top trending hashtag on South African Twitter, where users share their quitting sugar and exercise journey.
Landisa spoke to Samuel about why he started the challenge, how the challenge helped him personally and what a wrong reason would be for someone to do the challenge.
Everyone has a story to tell. I always wish I had written my grandma’s story or my mom’s story, because these stories can become forgotten over generations. I wanted to write my story; not to keep reminding myself of apartheid but to remember that everything in life is possible. I want generations to come to draw on the fact that love conquers all.
I grew up in Bonteheuwel on the Cape Flats. There were six of us with my parents in a one-bedroom home for many years. Later, we moved to a two-bedroom home and before I knew it we were 10. My grandma was my idol and she took me with her to her work at a white family in Durbanville one day. The house was huge, the little girl’s playroom was almost as big as our entire home in Bonteheuwel. At 10 years old, I asked God to help me to live in Durbanville one day. At that age, I could not understand why the world was the way it was and I asked many questions; no one really had answers.
I was diagnosed with cancer in January 2018 when, as I prepared for the year ahead, I underwent my annual medical examination and the doctor saw a lump in my groin. It turned out to be lymphoma.
From walking into his office as a healthy person showing no symptoms and motivated to start the new year’s working schedule, the cancer diagnosis brought my life to a sudden standstill. It felt unreal.
At first, I could not share the news with family and friends, because I could not believe that this was really happening to me. For weeks I could not say the word ‘cancer’; I refused to read up about the disease on the internet as I was scared to stumble on statistics of survival rates which would show what my chances were.
James de Villiers
When I was 13 I dreamt of being a pastor. Like the great Angus Buchan, I dreamt of standing on great stages in desert plains and telling the nations to cry out to God for mercy. At 15, when I started writing for a national Afrikaans newspaper, I dreamt of writing columns for a living. And at 16, when I wanted to be a journalist, I dreamt of a world knowing my name because I uncovered injustice.
And so I spent most of my high school career creating illusions of what my life would be when I grow up and escape the captivity of small-town rural Ceres in the Western Cape: ultimately, dreams of having my name known when I grow old.