ACTIVATE! EXCHANGE: Cape Town

How can South Africa’s young people find innovative tools for not just every day challenges, social transformation in a country that’s going through a phase of transition?

This was the question asked of a group of more than 20 Activators as they gathered at Athlone’s YMCA this past Saturday, using every day scenarios as case studies and within a set time coming up with novel solutions.

Despite Eskom’s loadshedding schedule affecting the audio visual component of the Exchange, participants remained enthusiastic.

Facilitators Ashley Roman and Gray Macguire ensured that the participants were well briefed and those time limits on discussions were strictly adhered to.

Five different groups of Activators were tasked with going through newspapers, placed on their tables and choosing one case study where they could apply innovative tools to bring about social transformation in not just a particular community but universally.

Before any discussion could start, group members introduced themselves to one another. At the table where this reporter was seated, Dumisa Thetiwe spoke about a project he had started in the Eastern Cape and the difficulties he had encountered.

Cathy Achilles, who was celebrating her birthday, along with Keith Knoop, Wande Madikane and Lizerine Mashaba made up the rest of the group.

Mashaba who used crowdfunding to build an orphanage in Khayelitsha encouraged Thethiwe who was struggling with funding his project.

Madikane, who works for the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation says it starts recruiting students in Grade 6, and followed through with them, checking on their academic performance right through high school.

“The application process is quite lengthy…academic (performance) plays a role but we’re looking for students who are thinking, we want to know their thought processes and whether they’ve got potential (to go further),” said Madikane.

So stringent was the selection criteria, Madikane says only 100 of the over 4000 applicants are accepted into the programme each year.

“And through the application process we can assess students. We’re looking at whether they are active in their communities, whether they play sports. Successful applicants have to be active in the programme, you can’t be receiving funds and then just chill,” says Madikane.

He says their monitoring was quite effective, and that between 70 to 80% of those participating in the programme for high school students would eventually be part of the tertiary programme.

Madikane says the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation programme in high schools was specifically targeting disadvantaged youngsters.

After the participants at the table had introduced themselves, Roman started the conversation by stressing the importance of innovative ideas.

After a short adjournment for tea, and a music interlude, participants picked up the newspapers on their tables, identifying a challenging issue they thought could use some innovative solutions.

Going through the People’s Post community newspaper, the group narrowed down two subjects. Expanded Public Works Programme workers in Manenberg complaining over their remuneration, and residents in an Athlone complaining that CCTV cameras, erected to fight crime, were instead an intrusive nuisance and invaded their privacy. Eventually the group settled on the former subject by means of a vote.

After deliberating for over 20 minutes, the groups presented their solutions to the packed YMCA hall.

Group 1: Chose to tackle the issue of housing developments which was isolated from economic opportunities. They argued that decentralized economic activities had to be encouraged by the authorities to spur developments in communities.

Group 2: They tackled the issue of how communities could deal with child abuse in their midst. And their solution was quite innovative, using safe houses within the communities which were colour-coded. This meant that children who suffered one or the other form of abuse could seek support within their communities by going to homes where they would receive the most appropriate assistance.

Group 3: EPWP workers in Manenberg had complained that they were short-changed when it came to their wages by contractors. Although this had been happening for months, the workers only started complaining towards the end of the year as the contractors were preparing to shut down for the holidays. The solution that the group came up with was the workers needed to participate more actively in the planning and implementation of EPWP projects in their communities.

Group 4: Tried to find a solution for teachers who were complaining about the selection, and competence of exam markers. Amongst the complaints from teachers were that these markers lacked an understanding of South Africa’s education system. The group suggested that teachers had to be part of the decision-making process on the appointment of markers. They also argued that there had to be a measure of transparency by the Department of Education, so that their decisions could be digested and decoded by teachers.

Group 5: Looked at the issues of grant beneficiaries, especially pensioners who were being targeted by crooks, fleecing them of their social grants. Their solution was to empower youngsters, who often lived with their grandparents to help them and ward off crooks. This would be done by using role-playing to educate grant beneficiaries, and through this using “fresh innovative ideas” on how the whole process worked.

Group 5’s ideas on using role-play were chosen by the audience as the best innovative tool in combating a real problem.

Roman said afterwards: “These are not just ideas but ideas that can bring social change. We should be using networks to have meaningful connections with each other”.

ACTIVATE! EXCHANGE: Port Elizabeth

Whilst ACTIVATE! Exchanges got underway in Cape Town and Klerksdorp, Port Elizabeth had its first ACTIVATE! Exchange at the B&E Conference centre on Saturday the 29 November.  Janice Jobson was the presenter of the event. She is a Social Activist who has been involved in various organisations such as Amnesty International; she also spearheads the ACTIVATE Programme.

The quarterly ACTIVATE! Exchange opens a dialogue for young people from all walks of life to discuss Government, Social Responsibility and other pressing issues. One thing that ACTIVATE regularly highlights is the need to change attitudes and rethink post-Apartheid South Africa. One topic that emerges regularly is Citizenship.

ACTIVATE connects attendees with insightful leaders of varying ages. Participants are able to interact with these leaders in a relaxed atmosphere as well as having the platform to share pressing ideas and opinions with leaders around the table.

Participants and panel members sat together at tables before leaders addressed the panel. Panel leaders selected challenges from their respective fields that they felt needed to be highlighted, within their groups. The groups were presented with object cards and had to link their cards to the challenges they face.

The focus for the day was Innovation.  Groups came up with innovative ways to tackle pressing issues. Issues such as Land Reform, Social Responsibility and Education stood out.

Ngaba Mpofu, @NqabaMpofu, tweeted “Necessity is the mother of invention, and innovation is key to overcoming many of society’s problems. #ActivateExchange

Luyolo Nqakula, a Social Activist/Entrepreneur and one of the panel members, raised the hot topic of Land Reform. Nqakula said Land Reform is an uncomfortable conversation for some that needs to happen.   Nqakula’s statements got the crowd talking.

Then Janice Jobson responded to Nqakula’s comments:

“I think this is a question and an issue that we really have to get to grips with now. For a very long time land-reform has been a notion that everyone generally agreed to but we haven’t dug down- into.  I think that’s the critical, crux for our generation- Can we translate theory into practice? What would it mean to revitalize the Agricultural sector? What would it mean to shift ownership in a way that everyone thrives? “

Lizalise Mngcele, a Statistics and Economics student at NMMU, was also on the panel at the ACTIVATE! Exchange. He offered innovative ideas and a captivating speech. He told everyone of an Information Communications Technology (ICT) project where ICT developers were brought into a township to offer residents the tools to generate mobile applications. He pointed out that this collaboration was mutually beneficial to the developers and the residents, because without the residents, the IT developers would not have had access to application ideas that truly affect the people.

A probing question asked by Prince Charles, a panel member and a sociology student at NMMU:   “Does it benefit the poor? – and if it does not benefit the poor it is not innovation!” His statements resonated with panel members and the participants and also inspired a few tweets.

Lenina Rassool-Louw, @Nina_210, echoed: “If it doesn’t benefit the poor or change the lives of those around us, then it is not innovation.” #ActivateExchange

Nqaba Mpofu ‏@NqabaMpofu  tweeted: “Speak out against authority, be respectful, take responsibility and ask questions” Glenton de Kok #ActivateExchange

Glenton de Kock, a panel member and the Project manager for Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber offered a refreshing take on what the role of citizens in South Africa is.  Through his experience working in the Civil Society Coalition in Port Elizabeth, De Kock states that we should reinterpret our role in governance. “If you make a cross you have a right to tell a counsellor they are not doing their job.” He encouraged citizens to bring forward complaints to Ward Councillors and Municipal Managers.  In turn those officials should be willing to accept criticism and not view themselves as being above reproach.

Ethu Ncanywa, a bubbly and bright NMMU student who attended the event said the most exciting part for her was “How we could all figure out cohesively as group-innovative ideas. Another exciting thing was networking with other people and being surrounded by different people who come from different backgrounds.”

Sesethu Gqomo, the Faculty Marketing Officer at the Engineering Department at NMMU, was on the panel. Gqomo has a strong focus on personal growth and an interest in motivating people. Gqomo said “Activate gave me the skills and tools that I have never learnt in any classroom. They are applicable to young people across all Faculties in any field. Joining the network is one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made.”

The fact that participants get to interact with these successful and influential leaders makes it a day well spent and the Activate programme, a programme worth doing for anyone who is interested in changing the scope of our country.

Follow ACTIVATE Change Drivers:

On Twitter: @ActivateZA

On Facebook:  Activate Change Drivers

 

By Tina Smith

Gauteng Lion’s Den

A group of Activators recently had the opportunity to present their business plans to a panel of corporate leaders and potential investors at a Lion’s Den forum in Johannesburg for the first time.

An initiative started by Thabang Mabuza of human resources company, Ulwazi Resources, in Kwa Thema on the East Rand in 2013, the Lion’s Den is a monthly platform where young entrepreneurs can engage with business leaders who provide them with the acumen and insight to turn their ideas into sustainable undertakings, says Mabuza.

The Activators who participated in the first Johannesburg-based Lion’s Den were:

  • Sidney Mathebula, founder of Five Star Sky,
  • Nonhlanhla Zondi of Activate! Youth App,
  •  Goodman Moeti of Ubuntuvation,
  •  Sibusiso Jele of Phepha Scam Awareness,
  • Mdu Tshabalala of Sebokeng Bird Park,
  • Frans Ntsoereng of Citizen Link,
  • Edward Thela of Township Potato Project,
  • Moses Ntuli  of Ulwazi App,
  • Tleane Matsetsebale of Young Hands Education

The event provided exceptional insight into the requirements for on-going success, says Mathebula, whose Five Star Sky project, an astronomy-based tourism and educational undertaking, was chosen as the event’s best business proposal for its innovation, creativity and sustainability.

“In order to address challenges that we face as a community we believe that there needs to be innovation, Lion’s Den gives those with innovative ideas an understanding into the business challenges. The whole concept of Lion’s Den is based on stimulating project planning and problem-solving techniques while marketing your ideas to potential investors.”

“It is a grueling process, it puts you on the spot and you need to really understand your own business model. However, it was a process that gave us all an incredible insight into what is required to be successful.”

The panel comprised entrepreneur and owner of Big Break Legacy, Tebogo Mafodi, , Nirvan Bhudai of the Business Development Unit at Future View, Tello May, manager of Business Development for Gauteng Enterprise Propeller; marketing manager Anele Ndlovu,  CEO at SAA Technical, Musa Zwane and Martin Manmohan, manager at Sasol.

INNOVATION AT ACTIVATE! EXCHANGE

ACTIVATE! kicked off its last series of Exchanges for the year in Klerksdorp, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Standerton on Saturday, 29 November 2014, under the theme of “What is Innovation and how can we use it to tackle social issues in South Africa?”

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.

At the B&E Conference Centre Port Elizabeth, Exchange panelist Prince Charles – an Activator and sociology student at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University – made the bold statement that “if it does not benefit the poor, it is not innovation.”

Further comments on this topic included:

  • Innovation lies in the ability to see a problem differently and working through it to uncover the real underlying causes.
  • Do we necessarily need money to innovate?
  • Innovation is about improving something. But what are you improving it for – societal gain or private gain?
  • Innovation requires one to think outside the box meaning we have to think outside of ourselves.
  • Resistance to innovation is a platform for more innovation.

Once discussions around the definition was out of the way, facilitators introduced Icon Cards – one of the tools from the ACTIVATE! Innovation toolkit – that guests would be using to unpack the various social issues.  Icons cards enable participants to unpack information and ideas through the eyes and minds of iconic figures such as Ashley Kriel and Patrice Motsepe, to wear their shoes in specific situations and take on their personalities and their values.

Topics that came up included National Identity, Land Reform and Social Responsibility looking at whether businesses are acting as responsible citizens.

One topic consistent across the four Exchanges was education and dialogue became quite robust while navigating this territory. A few comments that emerged from group discussions around this issue included:

  • Our youth are not happy with the education in SA, particularly administration.
  • How can we address this apparent distrust in our [education] system?
  • How do we have equal opportunities if our education system is still low compared to other countries?

During discussions, the importance of being innovative with ideas was stressed. In the Western Cape, group discussions commenced with each group choosing a particular issue to tackle from various newspapers provided on the day. Some of the topics included how to deal with child abuse in communities, grant beneficiaries – particularly seniors – who were targeted by criminals and conned out of their social grants and finding solutions for teachers who complained that exam-markers are not competent.

Using the Icon Cards, groups were then tasked with looking at the issues in different ways and finding innovative solutions, such as educating young people who live with their grandparents to recognize scams to help protect seniors from being fleeced out of their pension.

The Innovation Tools used were well received by participants with many saying that it will help them tackle issues in other areas of their life as well.

Sesethu Gqomo, a panelist and Faculty Marketing Officer at the Engineering Department of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University said, “ACTIVATE! gave me the skills and tools that I never learnt in any classroom. They are applicable to young people across all faculties in any field.”

Ethu Ncanywa, a student at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University attending the Port Elizabeth Exchange said that the most exciting part of the Exchange was networking and being surrounded by people who come from different backgrounds.

Nelisa Ngqulana, Communications Manager at ACTIVATE!, says that the Exchanges are an opportunity to reflect on real problems.

“At the November Exchange, we aimed to ground the understanding of innovation in a broader way that encompasses creative ways to work with the issues that we face in our communities and come up with practical solutions,” she said. “I think we achieved that during our latest Exchange.”

Ngqulana attended the Klerksdorp Exchange and said that it is clear that the hunger for new ways of addressing challenges is there. Young people require support from thought leaders and experts in their communities to use these innovation tools to really contribute to meaningful change.

The one group used the Icon card to come up with a ‘movement’ called Edu-Afrika that aims to bring together stakeholders. Many stakeholders work in isolation. The aim of the movement would be to come together and channel efforts towards one direction – ‘re-igniting good quality education one school at a time.”

The Exchanges wrapped up with parting words from each panelist. Glenton de Kock, a panelist and Project Manager for the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber summed up the day’s discussions well when he stated that we should reinterpret our role in governance. “If you make a cross [when voting], you have the right to tell a councilor they are not doing their job,” he said.

In Cape Town, ACTIVATE! facilitator Ashley Roman concluded by saying, “These are not just ideas, but ideas that can bring social change. We should be using networks to have meaningful connections with each other.”

“The solutions are around us, they’ve always been. We just need to open our eyes and minds to the possibilities that we already have!”, said Lesego, an Activator from Zeerust.

ACTIVATORS RE-IMAGINE A GUN-FREE SOUTH AFRICA

ACTIVATE! and Gun Free South Africa hosted a series of peace and non-violence workshops across the country. These workshops came at such a poignant moment as the nation was reeling from the tragic shooting of Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates goalkeeper, Senzo Meyiwa and co-incided with Fifa’s call for gun owners to surrender their weapons.

The workshops were held to commemorate the anniversary of the death of James Thomas, one of the founders of ACTIVATE! who was shot dead in the al-Shabab attacks at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, last year, and to support the annual United Nations International Day of Peace.

“We, as South Africans, seem incredibly desensitised to violence, and the aim of these workshops is to open up debate in local communities about the potential of living in a gun-free and non-violent country and world,” said Landy Wright, Programme Director at ACTIVATE!.

A total of five workshops were held in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Bloemfontein and Tshwane between November and December, each hosted and attended by Activators and facilitated by Gun Free South Africa.  

Adele Kirsten, Project Coordinator at Gun Free South Africa explained that the workshops drew on elements of a Train-the-Trainer course in order to equip Activators with the skills to facilitate similar dialogues in their communities afterwards.

The session started by looking at statistics around gun violence and how these figures are compiled. Each participant was asked to recall an incident of gun violence in which they or someone they know was involved in. The details of these incidences were then captured on charts and grouped according to gender, age, race, relationship and circumstance. 

While the test group was small, the image was sobering. In Cape Town, the statistics showed that the majority of perpetrators and victims of gun violence were male, coloured or black and aged 15-34. Additional insights that surfaced were that alcohol is generally not a factor in gun violence and victims and perpetrators are most likely to be strangers.  

Kirsten confirmed that contrary to popular assumptions, those figures are in line with general statistics across South Africa.

Activator, Moloko Brian Ngoepe, who hosted the Tshwane workshop, said that the image was similar with his participants.

“Our pattern showed that the majority of perpetrators are young black males between 18-34 years, which is my age group,” he said. “It was very disturbing to find out that my peers are so violent.”

The second exercise involved re-imagining a gun-free South Africa. Participants were asked to illustrate their vision of what a South Africa without guns would look like and share it with the group.

Images that emerged painted a picture of a peaceful South Africa and included no toy guns in stores and no violent programming on television.

Nathacia Olivier who hosted the Johannesburg workshop said that the exercise was a real eye opener for her.

“It was interesting to see how young people in South Africa envision a gun free South Africa and how this was expressed in their illustrations,” she said. “I didn’t know a lot about guns and how they affect us as a country. It was shocking to see how many people are killed and how many people own guns. Now I know how important it is to have a Gun Free South Africa,” she said.

During the last exercise, participants were divided into groups and asked to come up with concepts around how they could reduce gun violence in their own communities.

Activators were innovative with their ideas and each concept involved ways of creating Gun Free Zones in their communities.

“Gun Free Zones are different from Firearm Free Zones that are enforced by law and where individuals can be arrested if they bring a firearm onto the premises,” said Kirsten. “A Gun Free Zone is a space where no guns are welcome or allowed and relies on buy-in from the community and stakeholders to enforce it.”

Activator Dean Jates from Cape Town plans to declare to Gun Free Zones in his area, Bonteheuwel. An area that is notorious for having a strong presence of gang and gun violence. He will also be hosting a series of dialogues on his doorstep to open up discussion about gun violence in his community. 

“The Gun Free workshop showed me that it is key to speak about this issue because we have been desensitized and don’t see guns as a big thing anymore,” he said. “It is a normal thing if a gunshot goes off and some people even laugh about it.”

Perhaps the most provocative comment that emerged from the workshops came from Ngoepe when he said, “[the statistics] made me wonder whether all black men are violent, and if so, what are we doing about it in terms of policies and preventions, and what am I as an Activator doing to address this?”

ACTIVATE! aims to host Gun Free workshops annually to continue the dialogue on gun violence in support of a Gun Free society.

For more information on creating Gun Free Zones in your community, see http://www.gfsa.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/GFZ_brochure_FINAL.pdf

For more information on Gun Free South Africa, visit www.gfsa.org.za

World Peace Begins in the Home

It takes a whole village to raise a child, because a child is an active social being who interacts with people who are not his or her parents. With each interaction, it is imperative that the child receives the same messages as to what is right and wrong, what is valued and what is to be rejected and what is safe.

It is the shared values of the village, the shared commitment to each child as a loved individual and future citizen of the village, and the shared sense of collective responsibility that underscores the truth of why it takes a whole village to raise a child. If the village does not support the proper raising of the child, then a parent has a difficult road indeed and the child is at risk.

It also takes a whole village to raise a child because a village is comprised of a diverse array of people of all ages and experiences, each of whom has something to teach a child. Similarly, it takes a village to achieve any large civic goal. It takes a shared vision, a set of shared values and a shared sense of collective responsibility for the common good. This is what the Igbo (Nigerians) teach us through proverbs. It is indeed a shared belief in the African cultures that a child belongs to the village. It is a practice used in Africa since time immemorial.

I am one of the people who believe that world peace begins in the home. The 16 Days of Activism against Women and Children is a time for renewed resolve to combat violence in our homes, workplaces and communities. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this period has become one of the most important in our calendar. 

I have over the years, in my small corner, argued that 16 Days of Activism is not enough. My argument was centred around the apathy that most citizens displayed when it came to gender based violence. Most people were and are still aware that abuse is taking place right under their noses, either in their homes or their neighbour’s home and it still goes unreported. I relied on a mathematical view that saw a nation of 50 million people being active for 16 days between 25 November through 10 December, and apathy & abuse prevailing for 349 days on our calendar.

This year I call on every peace loving South African to focus their attention intensely on the problem of gender based and child-directed violence, to take stock of our progress and recommit to eradicating this scourge. We need men and women, young and old, to stand up and act against this abuse. We have in 2013 and 14 seen through the media, a number of children being raped and dumped, mutilated and murdered, from Diepsloot to Soshanguve and everywhere across the republic.

This year on, can we commit ourselves to contribute in our own small way to curb this scourge? Can we create an active citizenry that is prepared to ensure that the most vulnerable in society are protected daily? This would be true activism and would encourage our people to be active citizens who take collective responsibility to ensure that our children as future citizens are valued and protected 365 days a year instead of just 16 Days.

Our criminal justice system is by its nature a response mechanism. It swings into action after the damage has been done. We need partnerships in all spheres of society, from government, civil society and the private sector to effect change. Civil society and the private sector have from time to time proven to be more than willing partners, and we need to tap into that to make sure that our police officers charged with social crime prevention are supported with training and resources to fulfil their mandate to the satisfaction of the communities they serve. 

We also need to invest resources in the social crime prevention and attract skilled psychologists and other professionals to ensure that where we could not prevent this abuse, the victims are adequately supported.

 

Moloko Brian Ngoepe is a 2013 Activator, Acting Chief Executive Officer of Khula-Ngolwazi Development and a member of the SADC Commission on Youth, Food and Nutrition. 

 

Corruption Watch teams up with Fiesta Black to create waves on International Anti-Corruption Day.

Corruption Watch has collaborated with feisty young up & coming artist, Fiesta Black, to create a hard-hitting song that expresses the exasperation that many people feel about the high levels of corruption in South Africa.

The song “Hayi Basile”, which loosely translated means “They are wicked”, is being released by Corruption Watch on 9 December, to coincide with the United Nations-designated International Anti-Corruption Day, established by the UN to raise awareness of corruption and of the role of the UN Convention against Corruption in combating and preventing corruption.

Fiesta Black, like many other young South Africans, has experienced the effects of corruption and how people so easily get away with illegal actions. Her decision to collaborate with Corruption Watch on this song is use her creativity to voice the frustrations of so many young people who feel powerless in their own country.

David Lewis, Executive Director of Corruption Watch, explains the organisation’s motivation for collaborating on a house music track that focuses on corruption, why it is targeting young people, and what it hopes to achieve through this.

“The opportunity to work with Fiesta Black was something we could not turn down. She is a wonderful fresh new talent, and we think she has the profile right now to reach young people, and to create a bit of a stir.”

“Our decision to use a song to expose corruption was quite intentional,” Lewis continued, “informed in part by the results of a survey we conducted with young people earlier this year, many of whom said they would consider participating in an anti-corruption campaign that used music, art or theatre. And it takes us that much closer to our goal of trying to build a culture of activism among the youth in fighting corruption.”

The lyrics of the song profile those in positions of power who lead lavish lifestyles at the expense of others, and how it is ordinary people who work hard who bear the brunt of this. The song also carries a message to the youth that if you condone or offer bribes, you are part of the problem, “just as wicked as them”.

Corruption Watch will be officially launching its Youth Campaign in 19 February 2015 at an event that will feature a performance by Fiesta Black.

Clearly, merely releasing a song will not change things overnight, and this is just one of the channels Corruption Watch is using to get young people involved in the fight against corruption. Other activities include the launch on 9 December of a Pan-African writing and photographic competition, My Corruption Free Africa, which invites entries from across the continent featuring stories and images with the theme of “Corruption through my eyes”. Corruption Watch has also collaborated with FunDza to release a 7 chapter fictional story on the Mxit platform about corruption in the licensing sector, running from 5 – 11 December.

For a link to the song go to: www.corruptionwatch.org.za

5 Minutes With Tumelo

“Dismantling patriarchal myths”
“Repositioning men as society co-builders rather than predators”
“Creating an inclusive non-sexist society and reclaiming positive perceptions about men”
These striking bold phrases kept coming up at the launch of the A! Men Movement, which took place at the Constitutional Hill on Saturday, 4 June 2016.
A! Men is a youth advocacy group led by ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Team Leader, Malusi Mazibuko with dozens of young people from all over the country. At its core, the movement aims to challenge and re-focus negative perceptions about men.
This independent youth structure seeks to reclaim a positive reputation of men in society, redefine gender roles, connect gender activists and experts, provoke dialogues about patriarchal myths, positively influence social beliefs; specifically youth and to provide support links for every South African. 
Watch Malusi Mazibuko TV interview.
Besides reconstructing an inclusive non-sexist society, the A! Men Movement also intends to provoke robust discussions on masculinity, facilitate life skills mentorship programmes and ongoing fatherhood support structure.
Some of the speakers include author, film maker and change driver, Vukulu Sizwe Maphindani,  entrepreneur and social change driver, Mpho Maphologela, entrepreneur and sexual health educator, Rees Mann, motivational speaker and entrepreneur, Tsholofelo Mojakgotle, media practitioner, Kennedy Nhlangoti, gender activist and bookseller Nhlanhla Mbawula Nkosi , Human Rights  expert and social change driver Junior Sikhwivhilu – all members of the ACTIVATE! Network.
Organisations who supported this initiative on the day included, South African Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse, physically challenged entrepreneur support programme, The Small Giant, Human Rights Institute of South Africa, State of the Union, graphic and website design company, Mdokha Designs just to mention a few. 
Listen to Malusi Mazibuko radio interview.
The event was attended by young people from almost all provinces. Event organiser, Malusi Mazibuko, said the overwhelming attendance and ongoing public feedback from young people who want to join the movement is success indication sign that clearly shows that the country has been yearning for such relevant movement. “The fact that young people came as far as North West, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Gauteng tells me and the members of this movement that indeed there is a need for a movement like ours. This also shows that there are still people who want to see this country cleansing itself and going forward”, said Mazibuko.
The movement received a lot congratulatory messages of support from gender activists, civil society advocacy groups and government departments. Gender justice activist  Siviwe Minyi is one of many South Africans who applauded the founders and the members of A! Men Movement. “This is indeed a great youth-led initiative that can drive change in South Africa. I hope members of this movement will not be scared to address patriarchal social ills. For me, that would be a great starting point for and they can only achieve that by implementing innovative strategies that will make men understand that relinquishing power and establishing an egalitarian doesn’t mean loss of gender roles. Men and women can living alongside each other. Therefore men need to speak to other men about equality. A language that men understand is what shall take us further forward”, he says. 
The A! MEN Movement has extended its invitation to all sectors of society to participate in its nation building activities. Mazibuko  reiterated that A! Men movement is not a male-only organisation. “The movement calls for a new generation of young leaders to step up and take the lead and set the good precedent.” said Mazibuko.
Some of the movement way forward plans include prestige fund-raising gala dinner on Women’s Day (9th of August 2016), provincial branches launch, negotiating collaborations with various civil society organizations and government officials who share the same or similar vision of building a society where male are no perceived to be predators but trusted responsible co-builders.
Those who want more information about the A! Men Movement can visit the movement website www.amensa.co.za. Alternatively, they can call the A! Men Movement hotline 063 067 5679 or email assist@a-men.co.za / ACTIVATE!menza@gmail.com. 
The A! Men Movement social media platforms are @ACTIVATE!MenZA or facebook page A! MenZA

FROM GARDENER TO INTERNET ENTREPRENEUR

He hails from Ga-Dikgale, an activator with a desire to empower communities. A rural boy who didn’t have it easy when growing up, William Makgaba defied the odds by going to school and studying Computer Science, and then returned home to teach other young people in his community. 

 The 28-year old Makgaba’s initiative, the Vexospark Community Technology Centre, was recently chosen as the Emerging Youth Social Enterprise of the Year at the Emerging Social Enterprise Awards organised by the University of Johannesburg’s Centre of Social Entrepreneurship and Social Economy (CSESE) and sponsored by PriceWaterCoopers (PWC) and Lifeco. The aim of the competition is to celebrate the emerging social enterprises showing potential of scaling up and making a huge impact.

 “The purpose of life is to help other people.” Those are the words of the Dalai Lama that keep Makgaba passionate about his desire to change the lives of rural inhabitants.

 Makgaba joined the ACTIVATE! network in 2012 and says that the platform helped him a lot in his work. “The ACTIVATE! network connects and networks young people with the same passion to make an impact for the less privileged,” Makgaba said.

 “Through the ACTIVATE! training, I have managed to be able to conceptualise and plan my next steps. Of the many tools I have been offered at ACTIVATE! for effective problem changing, the Project Planning always prevailed and assisted me in reaching the stage where I am right now.”

Makgaba has been a busy man in the field of community upliftment. He has established computer centres in five municipalities across the Limpopo Province, namely:

  • Nkowa 2 Centre in Greater Tzaneen Municipality;
  • Ikageng P.E.A.C.E Centre in Blouberg Municipality;
  • Mapela P.E.A.C.E Centre in Mogalakwena Municipality;
  • Matlata P.E.A.C.E Centre in Aganang Munipality;
  • Segopje P.E.A.C.E Centre and Nobody P.E.A.C.E Centre in Polokwane Municipality

 

“My focus for the establishment of these centres has been mainly in rural areas”, said Makgaba. “It is my intention to double or even triple the number of computer centres we already have in Limpopo,” he added.

To add to the community upliftment experience he possesses, Makgaba has assisted in the Inter-School debating competitions as team coach and formed a cleaning campaign in and around his community of Ga-Dikgale. The cleaning campaign is conducted quarterly whereby local people are invited to come and volunteer in a quest to keep the world a better place.

“Environment is very essential to us all, it is everyone’s responsibility to keep their space clean, hence we extended the invitations to the local people for cleaning assistance,” he said.  

Makgaba also facilitates at a youth club at Ga-Dikgale, his birthplace. The youth club’s daily activities include drama, poetry, dancing and singing. “I always have fun dealing with youth and by the looks of things, they enjoyed me too.” His statement is supported by the daily attendance at the centre, with over 100 young people showing up every day.

 

Additional involvements include:

            Developing a youth forum;

            Founded and co-ordinated a local community policing forum where he comes from;

            SRC President at Morutwa High School

Makgaba’s journey was not an easy one and he experienced many hiccups along the way. Due to lack of jobs and related opportunities in South Africa, he was forced to go work as a gardener in Pretoria after completing his BSC in Computer Science qualification.

“I decided to quit as a gardener because I knew I was destined for greater things in life. My current life is my testimony,” he declared.

 “It is not easy to accomplish and also to sustain such community projects,” he added. “The major challenge is lack of resources, but I am grateful to the individuals who always provided sponsorship and other forms of assistance.”

 Makgaba says that the Emerging Youth Social Enterprise of the Year award will also help immensely. “I will be able to provide further support to all the projects I have been busy with and if the opportunity arises, establish more community projects.”