Nothing about us, without us- BRICS Youth Consultative Forum

This was a strong sentiment echoed by the 150 delegates at the BRICS National Youth Consultative Forum held in Tshwane on 01 November 2013. This gathering was hosted by the Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, in partnership with the Presidency and the National Youth Development Agency.  

“What stood out for me at the forum, were: Young people in South Africa must be counted amongst those in the know; we must lead and be role models for other African states. The fact is that BRICS has 43% of the world’s population, thus we must think beyond Gauteng and strive to export our culture. Young people must engage with the BRICS Think Tank because this is where ideas about the future are discussed.”, Activator, Mzwandile Msimang, was among those invited to join other young South Africans from government, business, NGO and youth development sectors to be part of this forum.

The decision to host the consultative forum was informed by the 5th BRICS Declaration of the Summit held in Durban on 27 March 2013. The Declaration makes provision for the BRICS Youth Policy Dialogue as a new area for cooperation. The consultative forum will be followed by a BRICS Youth Policy Dialogue which will be attended by all member states and hosted by South Africa in February 2014.

During the consultative forum, delegates from different sectors in South Africa got an opportunity to discuss challenges experienced, successes realised and opportunities emanating from the BRICS platform for cooperation. The meeting also developed a policy document which will serve as a South African position.

ICASA Pre Youth Conference: For youth, by youth, with youth

Ahead of the 17th International AIDS Conference in AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) in December, the ICASA YouthFront will  host a youth pre-conference under the theme: “Now More Than Ever – Getting to Zero: for youth, by youth, with youth“.  Discussions will cover issues on Leadership, Accountability and Participation.

The ICASA YouthFront is a coalition of youth-serving organisations working on HIV/AIDS and Sexual & Reproductive Health and Rights of Young People in Africa. The core mandate of the YouthFront is to ensure effective and active participation of young people in ICASA.

Click here to keep updated with ICASA YouthFront’s newsletter #Cape Connect

ICASA is a key event on HIV/AIDS for the African continent. The conference theme “Now More Than Ever: Targeting Zero” is derived from the UNAIDS’ vision of striving for “Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths”, but it also highlights the need to “now more than ever” maintain the commitment to ensure access to treatment for everyone in Africa irrespective of their ability to pay for such treatment. 

This year’s ICASA is an opportunity for the international community, and all Africans, to join efforts in committing to achieving an AIDS-free Africa.

The objectives of ICASA 2013 are to:

  • Serve as an advocacy platform to mobilise African leaders, partners and the community to  increase ownership, commitment and support to the AIDS response.
  • Provide a forum for exchange of knowledge, skills and best practices in Africa and from around  the globe.
  • Mobilise support to scale up evidence-based responses to HIV and AIDS, sexually transmitted   infections, tuberculosis and Malaria in order to achieve the millennium development goals.
  • Act as platform to hold accountable all stakeholders to scale up and sustain the AIDS response.
  • Create opportunities to define priorities and set policy and programme agendas to enhance  mobilisation and effective utilisation of resources.

Activator Nolwazi Ntshingila: winner of MISA Woman of the Year Award 2013

“When I filled in my application for this year’s Motor Industry Staff Association (MISA) Woman of the Year Award, I didn’t imagine that I would get this far.  I remember how I freaked out after my interview because the other finalists went in that interview room for more than an hour each and mine didn’t last more than half an hour. But with the support of my fellow Activators who kept encouraging me I pulled through. The words, “walk in there like a boss”, that fellow Activators Mzee Bhengu and Thando Mdokha had said to me kept echoing in my mind. And I also thought about what Mr. Musa Zulu had told us about his interview in Module 2.”, reflects Activator, Nolwazi Ntshingila after receiving her award at the prestigious MISA Gala event held in Gauteng on 13 November 2013.

The MISA Woman of the Year Award recognises women in the motor industry with the potential to develop beyond their current position.  More than that, it recognises her contribution to others through community involvement, or simply by touching and enriching the lives of colleagues at work.

“I’ve been doing community work for a while now and if someone had wanted to nominate me a year ago I wouldn’t have accepted. I was a shy and reserved individual who lacked confidence. Thanks to ACTIVATE! for unleashing these hidden qualities, especially Intake 1 and the Durban team for the love and support. “, says an excited Ntshingila.

Ntshingila was nominated by a colleague and her application landed her the Regional title for KwaZulu-Natal after which she became a South African finalist. 

“Seeing the smiles of the people I help gives me pure joy and hope in my heart and winning the SA MISA Woman of the Year award is just a cherry on top.”, says Ntshingila

To read more about the award you can go to the MISA website.

Opinion: Youth In Rural Areas

Rural areas are usually remote residential environments on the outskirts of towns with scattered dwelling units. They are traditional heritage communities that are subject to traditional authorities. Despite national government’ s interventions to create jobs and eliminate poverty, rural areas still have high rate of poverty and unemployment. As per the country’ s population statistics, youth constitutes a high proportion of the population and rural areas are no exception. 

Youth in rural areas are relatively inadequately intervened by the government especially in terms of capital power. To influence facilitation of change, any group of a people needs to possess enough political and capital power (financial power). This includes a rural area group of a people who already have prominent structures that are, arguably, older and permanent than our modern national government. 

Empowered with subsequent workshops and capital budget, followed with monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, these traditional structures would administrate that money to development their nearest constituencies and that, even youth in rural areas who often struggle to reach resources in distanced towns, eg, printing, photocopy services, computer labs for internet access etc, would virtually benefit at all levels.

Among many, there is no doubt that there is talent in rural areas, there are natural entrepreneurs in rural areas, there are political leaders and other kinds of who would blossom and contribute for change for this country’s development to reach new heights. 

This sentiment will remain a mere dream if strong consideration is not applied into this regard.

Opinion: What Does The Future Hold For Child-headed Households?

Abantwana Babalulekile (Children Count) claim there has been little statistical analysis on child-headed families in South Africa. However with recent rise of mortality and indispositions in society such as HIV/AIDS, poverty, accidents, violence etc. child-headed families raises key issues to the national youth debate.

Research show that, child-headed households continue to produce an increase in distortion of family structures, further affecting the ‘adult child’ societal relations, well- being and developmental stages. 

An analysis of the General Household Survey in 2006 found 0.67% of children live in child-headed households; this is equivalent to roughly 122 000 children out of 18.2 million children in South Africa and only 8% are orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Further surveys indicate that, child parenting begins between the ages of 14 years and above. 

Consequently, they live in conditions that are on average worse than those in mixed-generation households. They are also less likely to live in formal dwellings, or have access to adequate sanitation and water. This is because most of them reside outside of cities. Therefore, unable to have access to quality services.

It is with great dismay that most child-headed households have a 6% family income, leaving the rest unemployed which in turn makes a rippled effect on the increasing crime levels, poverty and the number of uneducated youth to name amongst other issues.

Post 1994 studies have shown alarming figures that there is still a great imbalance and that they are more ‘black’ child-headed families in comparison to other races. Analysis indicates, the province with the most child-headed families is Limpopo. 

“Education starts at home” therefore, without the structure of formal education present in the household, it generates a gap and the possibility of a continuous cycle within the household. In order to assist in solving this problem it would be necessary to know, how is the child parent educating their siblings. Questions such as “Why are there more black child-headed families? Are these parents frequently involved in the life of their children? How are other parents from different races educating their children to ensure they do not become parents at a young age?” need to be answered.

Part of the National Development Plan is to promote active lifestyle and health awareness, which really needs to be carried out with more precision.  Also the current programmes being implemented in different communities need to be evaluated to identify if they are relevant and viable. I believe this phenomenon really needs to be taken more seriously by the state and the different stakeholders. The youth is the future of the country, and if these rates of ‘child-headed families’ continues to raise, this could entail higher unemployment rates, higher abortion rates, substance abuse, high number of illiteracy and many more problems. 

Walking For Wheels

On Sunday 18 August 2013, thousands took the streets of Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town for the annual 10km Bidvest Unity Walk which takes place in the four cities simultaneously. The walk is in support of the quadriplegic and paraplegic from the rural and disadvantaged areas who can’t afford to buy their own wheelchairs. Apart from donating wheelchairs to the needy, the event is also a way of bringing the diverse companies within the Bidvest Group together. 

For every 75 people that walked Bidvest donated 1 wheelchair.  I’m proud to say that Activators Koko Zaka, Bonolo Moaneloa, Ntoko Makhubu and I also contributed to the worthy cause as 40 wheelchairs were donated at the Durban Kings Park Stadium on the day.  We walked side by side every step of the way, got lost together, had some crazy moments and had some good laughs and all for a great cause. 

After the walk the ladies and a few men went crazy when the gifted Zakes Bantwini took to the stage and I sure was one of them.  It was a fun-filled way of making a difference and I look forward to the next walk and hope more Activators will join us.

Apply Now!

Calling young people passionate about South Africa!

Let’s join together in conversation.  And let’s turn talk into action.

We have come from rural villages and major cities, from privileged suburbs and marginalised townships.  We are from different racial groups, have different political affiliations, and different religious beliefs.  We’ve discovered our collective power, passion and capacity to activate positive change in South Africa. Join us! Join the network! 

“Activate! is the most diverse youth leadership network in this country”– Koketso Moeti – Activator since 2012

Who should apply?

  • Young South Africans who want to lead the country into a new era
  • All young leaders who challenge themselves and other critically… it doesn’t matter if you’re a doctor, a lawyer, astudent, unemployed or working part-time
  • People in their twenties who want to connect with like-minded others to spark a new wave a active citizenry in South Africa!
  • Minimum qualification: Matric

For more information about the application process you can click here. To apply you can go to the online application form. You can also apply on your phone by dialling *120*16000#.

Join the Crazy Challenge in a city near you

Activator Vusi Tshabalala, from Tzaneen, and Samuel Ntswanisi have made it their mission to inspire fellow youth to reach their goals by running/cycling 1850kms. The run/cycle will start from the Parliament buildings in Cape Town to Nkowa-Nkowa Stadium in Limpopo. The run/cycle will cut across five provinces: Western Cape, Northern Cape, Free State, Gauteng and Limpopo. It will happen during the 16 Days of Activism Against the Abuse of Women and Children Campaign.

Vusi and Samuel will be joined by a small group of runners and cyclists who share their vision. “I am also collecting signatures, we want to break a record by collecting 1 million signatures collected for a social movement. The current record stands at 35 000. 

“We appeal to Activators to please come out and support us as we make our way”, says Vusi.

The cycle starts in Cape Town on Friday, 15 November 2013 at 23h00. Western Cape Activators, please come out in numbers to support the team when they take off. The runners got a 16-day head start and the cyclists will follow suit. All runners and cyclists will meet take off together from Johannesburg. 

Fellow Activator, Fernando Visagie (in Kimberley) and ACTIVATE! facilitator, Lerato Mahoyi (in Johannesburg) will welcome and cheer the runners and cyclists on when they pass through their cities. 

All money raised will go to Bjatladi Youth Development and Vantshwa Va Xivono, two organisations that work with the youth in Limpopo. These organisation support at least seven (7) other youth development centres in seven (7) different communities with a population of more than 10 000 youth. 

How can Activators help?:

  • Be around to cheer the runners and cyclists on when the Crazy Challenge team passes your town
  • SMS the word ‘crazy’ to 34593 for R2 OR ‘crazy’ to 39026 for R15 to donate towards the challenge.
  • To take part, cyclists can contact Vusi on 073 845 3526 and runners can contact Sam on 079 194 8023
  • Help with drinks, accommodation or by commenting on the Crazy Challenge on Facebook

Please visit: www.crazychallenge or follow Crazy Challenge 2013 on Facebook and Twitter. Let’s show love and support for Vusi and his team.

Inspiring Possibilities: 2014 Innovation Showcase

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.” ? Gloria Steinem, American journalist

This year’s theme is, “Inspiring Possibilities”. 

The word, ‘inspire’ is a verb that the Oxford dictionary defines as “to fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.” 

The wide of range pitches/project ideas received from more than 100 Activators are a clear indication that the possibilities for innovation are limitless. The Showcase Expo will be a physical space where all submitted work will be displayed for all to see and to spark conversations.

The 2014 Innovation Showcase is an exciting event in the ACTIVATE! calendar for many reasons. Activators from across the country get the opportunity of getting together. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on each other’s ideas and the potential of collaborating to address the most pressing issues in our various communities and the country. During the interactive sessions, Activators will get to “pick” the brains of leading individuals in the innovation sectors. We imagine a world café/ speed-updating session where a room full of people share their ideas and insights, and inspire the network to think bigger, bolder, wider, deeper; more and more innovative, creative and connected. 

All Activators will receive an official invitation to the Showcase. So please, save the dates and make sure you don’t miss it. 

Showcase dates: 17 – 18 January 2014 (16 and 19 January will be travel days)
Venue: Alpha Conference Centre, Magaliesberg

Setting the Agenda for 2014 and Beyond

Young people are often told about how the future is theirs to shape and yet inreality, the agenda of that future is set by media, politicians and many other voices- which often marginalises the youth agenda.

BlaqApple Communications proactively grasped the opportunity to provide a space in which youth would be at the forefront of setting their agenda for 2014 and beyond. In partnership with Constitution Hill, they recently hosted the 2014 & Beyond Socio-Economic Development Engagement. This engagement had diverse groups of young people gathered together in one space, together with leading media figures, health cover experts, youth in business and the Gauteng Provincial Government.

Upon entering the venue, participants were welcomed by powerful artwork from young Sifiso Mokoena. City Year also had an exhibition, which was overseen by Activator Lebohang Ratjie- who asked the question “how are you serving?”, which set the tone for the day. 

Despite the organisers being overwhelmed with a venue that was filled to capacity, they ensured to keep attendees entertained. Activator Sabelo Mnukwa challenged those present to think about what socio-economic development means to them and how they could move it forward. He went on to explain in length how the engagement was about bringing people together and creating a space in which “potential collaboration opportunities for 2014 and beyond could be identified”.

Renowned journalist, editor and activist, Ntate Mathatha Tsedu shared his life story of being a black and aspiring journo during the apartheid days. The story is one of incredible resilience and was relevant to all, even if not pursuing a career in media. Despite not having his by-line used in his first published article, his determination drove him to continue to write and without formal journalism training his career. Tsedu used his story to remind young people that “whatever it is that you do, make sure it is something you are passionate about”. 

Media personality Naledi Moleo, took to the podium thereafter demanding to know why “we accept a media that feeds us stupidity”. She went on to describe the disjuncture between what we see in mainstream media and the realities experienced by many the majority of the country’s citizens. She also challenged those in the media industry to use whatever space they occupy to create positive change, despite the lack of recognition that often accompanies this path. 

Many of those present expressed networking as one of the main reasons for their attendance and received much more than they had thought. Katlego from Youth Forum explained that for her, there was a deep curiosity about the networking environment and how it can be used to complement existing initiatives. Her colleagues went on to share how needed the experience was as the organisation had recognised the importance of collaborating with others for capacity building purposes.

The keynote address of the day however came from Tshepo Pilane from the Gauteng Provincial Government. “Young people are impatient”, he began, “if you can wait for nine months to be born, then surely you can exercise that same patience in other areas of your life”. According to Pilane, the greatest barrier facing youth is what he described as the ‘I want it now’ mentality which just doesn’t happen as there are processes involved in everything. He went on to describe how the province’s spending is aligned to national priorities, meaning that youth account for 30% of the provincial expenditure. Pilane also explained the various youth programmes undertaken by the provincial government and the processes involved in being a part of these programmes- including accessing grants for youth enterprises.

“The world does not owe anyone anything” said Pilane. “Waking up is not a favour, it is a privilege and every day you should ask yourself how much value have you added to life” were his final thoughts to those present, which deeply affected many present.

Elevator pitches from young people involved in a number of activities were also a part of the day’s proceedings, giving those present an opportunity to identify key initiatives they could become a part of or support. Pitches from Activators included Youth for Human Rights; yDiDi, Helping Hands Skool Tassie project amongst many more.

With the space created, it is now for those forward to either take the connections made forward or possibly face the risk of having the agenda set for them. Which it will be is something that only time will tell.

We have moved!

Just as the network of Activators has been growing steadily. So has the team that supports the network. It, therefore, made sense that a move was necessary to fit everyone comfortably. 

After looking around, Chris and the team finally settled on a gem – the Muizenberg Station House. This building is one of Cape Town’s well-known historical buildings (the station opened in 1913!) as well as a National Heritage site – marking the start of the “Historic Mile” that stretches to nearby St James.

The team has been hard at work making the space feel like home. We hope to create a space where Activators, partners and other interested parties can pass through for inspiration and a chat.