Over 250 youth from across South Africa gathered at The Innovation Hub in Pretoria to participate in the inaugural Green Youth Indaba on the 31 July 2014.

The theme this year was ‘Advancing Youth Interest in Green Economy and Sustainable Development’ and was hosted by TOSACA Media Group alongside other green partners such as the Water Research Commission (WRC), South African Weather Service (SAWS) and the Department of Energy and Department of Environmental Affairs.

Speakers included from the private, public and NGO sector included:

  • Green Economy Specialist at The Innovation Hub, Dr. Charity Mbileni
  • Founder of Generation Earth and UNEP Youth Ambassador , Ella Bella
  • DBSA Green Fund Manager, Michelle Lytte
  • Head of Green Economy at the Gauteng Economic Development, Noxolo Mthembu

Speaking at the opening of the Indaba, CEO of TOSACA Media Group and Activator Calvin Makhubela said, “This initiative seeks to create a platform for young people to be exposed to the green economic opportunities in South Africa and engage with both government and private sector to enable an environment for youth to participate in the economy.

The Indaba focused on four topics; renewable energy, climate change, waste management and water conservation and as part of the event, delegates participated in breakaway sessions to discuss and debate issues around climate change, how it affects youth and what youth can do in their homes and communities.

Green youth entrepreneurs were then given an opportunity to pitch their practical innovative green ideas to a panel of investors such as Wits Business School, The Innovation Hub, Nissan SA, and Industrial Development Corporation.

The ideas were practical solutions that can be implemented in our homes, communities and provinces.

For example, Tumelo Mashile and Mandla Mdluli of EnGenius Green Solutions pitched an idea of a mobile treatment plant that would purify water in rural municipalities using technology powered by solar panels.

The aim of the Green Youth Indaba is to sensitize and empower young minds about the opportunities within the green economy, explore economic opportunities for young people within the environmental sector, engage youth to play a pro-active role in addressing issues related to sustainable development as well as address the stigmas about taking up careers in the environment or green field.  

For more information about the Green Youth Indaba, visit

5 mins with Fernando

What’s your passion? Realising my potential by bringing about change in my community, especially working with young people.

What change are you keen to drive? After my background with drugs and gangsterism, which led me to jail for seven years, I am trying to reinvent my community, revitalise it. I want to work with young people, give them skills and guide them away from choosing gangsterism and substance abuse.

How are you driving change?

  • ‘Serve Is’ campaign, which is an awareness and youth volunteer movement
  • A golfing project, using a vacant piece of land close to our community for young people to learn and play golf
  • Finding solutions to the wetland / waste problems in my community
  • An E-block community resource centre.

How has ACTIVATE! supported you so far in driving this change? ACTIVATE! connected me with a lot of like-minded people leading to work opportunities and working together. A highlight was learning how to run community dialogues and getting different people to participate.

What do you think is the priority in setting the agenda for our country over the next five years? Being informed, educated, knowing our rights and holding government accountable in a non-violent way. We are so privileged to have an opportunity to become skilled and educated; our parents didn’t.

How do you motivate yourself? I set myself reasonable goals and timeframes and work on my personal issues.

Final comment? One of the hardest things is not getting too attached to and depressed by social issues. My vision for South Africa is too see young people standing up and becoming role models in our country. Be yourself, be real and pursue your dreams.


ACTIVATE! has launched a groundbreaking campaign titled Future Now SA as a platform for young people to add their voice to the future of South Africa and create their future now.

Over the past 10 years, the youth space in South Africa has predominantly been claimed by political interests. Following the 2014 elections, there is a unique opportunity for young people in civil society to reclaim this space from the political realm and highlight and address the issues that directly affect youth.

The #FUTURENOWSA campaign aims to develop a roadmap of actionable, game-changing mechanisms to aid the National Development Plan in supporting the youth of South Africa.

“The National Development Plan has very few ideas that directly address some of the pressing issues young South Africans are facing now. For the most part, it conceptualises young people as a potential destabilising force – a “ticking time bomb” – and specifies ways to protect against this potential threat rather than to proactively harness it as a positive stabilising force,” says Nelisa Ngqulana, Communications Officer at ACTIVATE!.

“It is imperative that young South Africans – the majority of the country’s population – recognise the extent to which their interests are not being addressed adequately, particularly in the absence of a strong non-partisan youth voice.”

The campaign – which invites all youth to submit their game-changing ideas for a better future – will culminate in the delivery of a 10-point action plan for youth that will be submitted to the National Planning Commission in October. 

The ten point action plan will focus on:

  • Game-changing, implementable, ideas that can dramatically shift the landscape for young people;
  • Specific actions that young people, government and civil society can take in the short-term;
  • New insight into the role young South Africans are playing.

“This is an exciting time for the youth. As we saw in the 2014 elections, their role in politics is being realised. Unfortunately, there has not been a strong enough youth movement to set the agenda. ACTIVATE! Change Drivers are aiming to change that. #FUTURENOWSA is only one of our initiatives, but it brings the youth one step closer to being a force to be reckoned with.”

The campaign is being driven online via its website, Facebook Page ‘Future Now SA’, on Twitter via the hashtag #FutureNowSA. Youth are invited to contribute to the campaign and can submit their ideas on the website or via USSD by dialling *120*4215#.

For more information, visit the Future Now SA website


ACTIVATE! hosted its second Exchange dialogue on 23 August with over 400 Activators and stakeholders gathering simultaneously in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Mpumalanga to hold discussions around Identity and Leadership.

The ACTIVATE! Exchange is a quarterly discussion forum with the aim of drawing together young people and thought leaders from civil society as well as government and business to explore ways in which positive social change may be brought about in South Africa.

The theme for this Exchange was Identity and Leadership and the over-arching topic looked at re-imagining who we are in order to build a more inclusive society. The atmosphere at each Exchange was electric as everyone reflected on their individual, national and global identities and what it means to be a good leader in our communities and society.  

“Do South Africans need a common identity?”, “How do we define our identity and accept other forms of identity different from our own” and “How can we find a new identity between ourselves and others” were questions that kicked off group discussions.

“We need to acknowledge those things that happened to us so [that] we are able to move forward,” was one of the comments that emerged from group discussions at the Cape Town Exchange hosted at the Malibongwe Restaurant in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. “We acknowledge our history and Apartheid, but we also need to create our own history,” was another.

And while thoughts and opinions flew back and forth at the various venues, social media was abuzz with comments as those who could not physically attend the Exchange added their voices to the national conversation.

Comments emerging from both physical and virtual platforms included:


  • “We can have the constitution on paper, but what happens on the ground is vastly different to what is written there.”
  • “Ideologies shape our views and this leads to a certain identity and fear.”
  • “I need to know myself and find how I can identify with my neighbour. I am not Pedi, Tsonga or Zimbabwean. I am human. What I must ask is what am I doing that will be remembered in my country.”
  • “We need to stop differentiating on race, gender, culture. This creates prejudice. We need to see each other as human. That will create an inclusive society.”
  • “Urbanisation is important. It facilitates us to connect with those different from us.”
  • “Young people relate more to things they see on TV than in their own background because of good life, money and comfort.”
  • “History is how you tell the time that you are in. How do we separate Identity and history?”
  • “Let us be aware of the words we speak because they move us to act.”
  • “It’s not about me, it’s about us. This way we will rise above divisions.”


After group discussions,the rooms once again combined as thought leaders from around the country presented their thoughts and expanded on what had already been discussed.

Cape Town panellist and Activator Cathy Achilles’ comments on how – on an international level – weare all family were welcomed and celebrated by the audience in Cape Town.

 “I might look white but my father is Zulu. I might be black but my father is white. Why are we classified as ‘other’ if we are all family,” she said. “If you think of Xenophobia and then our history, our descendents are from all over Africa, so we are attacking our own family,” she added.

In KwaZulu Natal, Panellist Abigail Crawford, CEO of Ukukhanya Development Trust presented herself as an example of the changes that South Africa’s identity is heading toward.

“Right now I am the minority, but 20 years from now I’ll be part of the majority from mixed marriages.” She also urged youth leaders to advocate and promote self-acceptance, tolerance and diversity. “Understanding who we are is key to understanding others,” she said.

KZN Panellist Dr FikileNdlovu, General Manager of HIV/AIDS at the Office of the Premier in KZN, shared her belief that young leaders need to carry their identities with pride and not look down on themselves. If they do this, she cautioned, they may lose some of the values that prove essential to good leadership.

In Limpopo, Panellist VusiTshabalala, Motivational Speaker and Environmental Educator, said that tribalism in the business sector – Vendas employ Vendas and Pedis employ Pedis – discriminates against other cultures and destroys the one identity we must all strive for: African!

At the end of the dialogue, positive feedback was representative of not only the amazing reflections that came out of the dialogue but the success of the event. “These dialogues are setting the foundation for driving change in South Africa,” tweeted @iseLu_M.

Activator Anele Celewho attended the Limpopo Exchange said that she found the event meaningful, relative and relevant. “It showed me that in leadership and in the world, we live with people with different identities and different backgrounds and that it’s important to know how to deal with conflicts that arise peacefully so we can achieve greater things by simply understanding that we are all human no matter our ethical differences.”

In Cape Town, Director of Namutebi and Associates and co-curator of The Story Club, Philippa Kabali-Kagwa,rounded off the day with the following thoughts:

“We live in the most diverse continent in the world. We have desert, rain, snow, sand. It is the only continent in the world that has all of that.The many languages and cultures we have in Africa mirror this diversity. We look at these differences as if it’s the problem but it is this diversity that makes us beautiful and is our greatest opportunity.”

Activator Recognised for Driving Change

With South Africa’s education system constantly making headlines for the wrong reasons, Activator Kefilwe Bopape is in the spotlight for making a positive difference in the lives of pupils from her hometown of Hammanskraal, KwaZulu Natal.

No longer able to accept the bleak circumstances in her area, Kefilwe decided that something needed to be done if her community was going to change its situation and uplift itself. She started the organisation, ‘Life After Matric’, to provide high school students with the knowledge and motivation to make better career choices and aim for success in life.

‘I saw a community facing the challenge of unemployment, teenage pregnancy and crime as a result of dropping out of school [and] then identified the need to do my part in helping to educate the youth,” she says in a Youtube video about her organisation.

‘Life After Matric’ currently has five members who provide tutoring, information about and transport to open days at tertiary institutions, assistance with bursary applications and motivational talks and life skills to high school learners.

In July this year, Kefilwe’s contribution to society was officially recognised when she was chosen as the ICC Buying Group’s Young Community Shaper for 2014, an honour which came with a grand prize of R60 000 in funding to help grow her organisation further.

“With the money from the competition, we are looking into assisting schools to get computer labs and spreading the funds between the portfolios we have – which includes marketing and advertising – and also organising career days, trips to open days and various other events.” 

Kefilwe says the idea for her organisation was born while tutoring primary school children in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, during her studies at the University of Cape Town in 2010 as part of the SHAWCO programme – a student-run NGO based at UCT that aims to improve the quality of life for individuals in developing communities.

“It burned in me to start something similar in my own community so I changed my tertiary studies to the University of Pretoria and invited fellow students to help with career talks and motivation in our home area,” she says. “I believed I had found my purpose.”

Kefilwe has been living that purpose ever since by providing hope, knowledge and inspiration to high school students in her area.

“We are a team of five people including myself, three of whom are studying, one person is working and the other is on a gap year. We tutor on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays and currently work with one school in Kanana, Hammanskraal.

“Kefilwe has been doing a good job as we see an improvement in the marks of our students,” said Mr Sithole, principal of Legwelereng, secondary school. “She has been able to raise the standards and we are very happy.”

This year, Bopape and the rest of her young change driver team registered as a non-profit organisation and continue to do work within the community to the best of their abilities.

“We aim to offer certificates to our learners for best achiever as an incentive and also to motivate them to work hard and are looking into having manuals that will assist our volunteer tutors and keep them prepared. All these are plans we have and still need to be executed as this is our first funding,” she explains.

Kefilwe acknowledges that there is still a lot of hard work ahead but is confident that they will go ahead even it if means helping only one student at a time.