A 14-year-old South African has been nominated to receive the prestigious lifetime achievement award from former US President Barack Obama.
Daniel Petersen Jnr has been nominated for his commitment and faithfulness to community work, nation and his philanthropic work.
Peterson and his father Daniel Sr will both be recognised at an awards ceremony taking place in New Orleans in the USA at the weekend for the work both do through his foundation, teaching young learners music and securing access to new musical instruments for hundreds of schoolchildren from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.
Peterson’s inspirational story began when he was just 14 months old. His father, a former drummer by profession, came home to the sound of the drums beating.
“There was a melody playing in the background – it wasn’t just banging – so I initially thought that it was my younger brother playing my drums,” Daniel Sr explains.
He started playing drums at the age of one and he received Yamaha drum kit when he made history as the youngest artist to receive a full endorsement from Yamaha and Anatolian cymbals at the age of four. He also became South Africa’s youngest university student. He was enrolled at the University of the Western Cape in 2011.
While he’s enjoyed a series of achievements in his short life, the biggest thing that stands out for him was being invited to play at the late former president Nelson Mandela’s 90th and 93rd birthday celebrations in Portugal, as well as his 95th birthday celebrations held in Washington and Los Angeles.
Inspired by his 81-year-old grandfather, who still takes the time to ride his motorbike, his message to other youth out there is to find your passion and once you’ve identified it, go after your dreams.
“It’s never too late or too early to start anything. Once you believe in yourself, that’s when you come one step closer to success. Be humble and kind to others because your actions will inspire others to be like you,” he says.
The prestigious Presidential recognition sets people apart from their peers. It is a tremendous honor. Even though one may not seek recognition, the example can deliver a powerful message that encourages others to take action.
The child prodigy is set to be honoured by former US President Barack Obama for his commitment to nation-building this coming Saturday.
And Peterson says he’s honoured to receive such an award.
“All I can say is that I am just so happy. Words cannot express how I am feeling. I am just happy that I can and am able to achieve this award.”