Gauteng First Station launch

On the 31st of July, ACTIVATE! Leadership Gauteng branch reiterated its commitment of helping Activators by launching the first semi equipped connecting stations at the Braamfontein head office.

The station was officially opened by Inland Nodal co-ordinator, Tebogo Suping. A number of audacious Activators from around Johannesburg and Pretoria defied cold conditions and attended the well-planned event.

The station has free internet Wifi, basic stationery and other basic useful amenities. Activators can use the multi-purpose station as the meeting space, developing their projects and Activator focus group workshops.

According Suping, the station is one of the “Going Beyond” project that ACTIVATE! support system committed to set up in a bid to help Activators. According to Suping, besides the “Going Beyond” promise, ACTIVATE! noticed that there were number social change drivers who were trying their best to get their projects off the ground but didn’t have resources, office space and professional meeting spaces. That is where the idea of transforming existing spaces like libraries rooms, internet cafes, vacant safe usable buildings into stations.

She said, “As the organization we noticed Activators struggles and heard their cries. We have seen most of you trying your best but at times the odds were too much for some of you. As caring family we couldn’t just sit and watch. It was clear that something needed to be done. That is how the idea of the Station came about. Fortunately, the Braamfontein Office had a spare room that was not being used and it was ideal because it already had resources such as Wifi and phones for Activators to use.”

Gauteng team leader Ise-Lu Moller said the station central location is one of the most things they look at before they decided to open the station. Moller encouraged Activators to take advantage of what the station offers.

She said “Guys, this station was started to serve you and try to meet you halfway in your quests. So use it efficiently and effectively. Take this space as your other home. It doesn’t have to be ACTIVATE! projects. Those who are studying can use it as the study facility or anything that will contribute in your development as Activators.”

She also urged to donate any useful tools, books, games and everything that will make the space more homely and lovely place to work on.

Activators who attended the launch applauded the organization, ACTIVATE! for opening launching

Centurion-based social change drive and co-founding member of Olieven Academic Annual Awards Mufamadi Duncan said “The location of the Station is convenient for activate leaders to meet up and have access to information and Wi-Fi.”

Educate South Africa (ESA) and Successful and Accessible (S&A) member and Activator, Modiehi Jacinta Chere said the station launch showed that Activate Leadership really cares about youth of South Africa. “Activate Leadership has just proved that what they practice what they preach to us. The fact that this station is meant to benefit at their expense means that they really want us and our project to prosper and that has to be commended”

A coordinator at Educate South Africa University of Johannesburg society and Activator, Mohamed Mosala applauded Activate Leadership Gauteng branch for opening such a development platform. “It is a great initiative. Many Activators who don’t have access to what the station is offering. I strongly believe that the station will help us, as Activators in turning our ideas into action. I am going to use station as my resource centre, planning projects facility and holding business meetings. We need more of these stations all over South Africa.”

A Soweto based peer educator and social change driver, Lerato Mokopanela, also commended for opening the station. She said the space will be beneficiary for her and many of her fellow activators working on the same projects. “The station will be really helpful to us as Activators. The luxury of free Wi-Fi is going to help me a lot with online research. Most importantly, the station will enable me to have a working place without having to stress about paying rent as is the biggest challenge for us as change drivers.”

Gauteng Connector Bongi Ndlovukazi said Activators have to be aware that stations have rules that have to be adhered to all the times. These rules include:Keeping the station neat. Activators are responsible for everything in the station. If you book the venue for meetings, minimize the noise level at all times. No books or any items can be removed from station but feel free to use them while you are in the station and most importantly, Activators have to book the space in advance which can be done via trainers and Gauteng Connector”

The dates for other station launch around the province will be announced soon.


5 Minutes With Cindy Lee

What’s your passion?
I am passionate about Africa, especially sustainability in the continent. I grew up in a part of the country where there weren’t many people but plenty of wildlife we had sheep and goats. When I was younger my grandfather would share stories about his childhood and about the nature that surrounded us. At that time I knew I loved the outdoors, my grandfather sparked my interest – he was my mentor. 

What change are you keen to drive?
Highlighting the importance of nature and the integral part it plays in our lives. I want to educate people about the environment and make them aware that it’s where we come from and that the health of our natural system is directly linked to our sustainability. 

How are you driving change?
I drive a section of the NPO Nature’s Valley Trust that raises awareness of various conservation factors. Our interventions highlight the important role nature plays in our lives and the significance of conserving our environment in our daily activities.
 We find out what people need to live sustainably and fulfil those needs. For example we encourage recycling and will educate people on the various ways of recycling. We provide education and awareness through hosting workshops, talks and events in communities and schools.

We also work closely with the Bitou District and whenever they host community events they will invite us to give a talk or host a workshop on conservation.   

How has ACTIVATE! supported you so far in driving this change?
The one thing that truly helped me, was how to deal with people that work in the government sector and understand the various structures and roles. Networking has been the most important tool for me. I have learned to learn from people who have a common goal. The interaction with like-minded Activators has been brilliant and has assisted my growth immensely. Because of ACTIVATE! I now have a network of brilliant experts.

How do you motivate yourself?
I think about the appreciation I receive from community members or the interest from learners when we host interventions in schools. Those are the kind of things that keep me motivated. My drive for change is also my constant motivator, I want to see things get better in Africa. The spirit of the African people inspire me!

Final comment?
I want everybody to live a life with dignity. For every house to be a green house, for every person to live green and for everyone to realise that we all play a part in making things better. My advice to everyone would be to start living sustainably at home. Start small, fix a tap if it’s leaking. That’s where it starts and play…. Just play outside with your children. Tell them stories and get them excited about nature. 

Movers and shakers seminar

Gauteng Activator and the founder of Solutionaire Phase Company, Sthembile Ahadi Zondo hosted long awaited and highly publicised inaugural Movers and shakers seminar at Johannesburg’s Constitutional Hill.

The event themed identifying entrepreneurial purpose and self-discovery Program Director was YFM’s current affairs anchor and Sowetan columnist, Busisiwe Gumede.

Zondo said the seminar’s main aim is to bring together exceptional young entrepreneurs to share their inspirational stories and business journey with a hope to motivate emerging or aspiring entrepreneurs.

The seminar had a long list of dynamic speakers like serial entrepreneur, business coach and media practitioner Murendwa Mmabasotho Mukwevho, property investor, brand ambassador and SME growth champion Teboho Mafodi, Agape Youth Movement president, author, Biz M8 Managing Director, and Activator Thabang Abuti Rams , Author, finance coach, speaker, entrepreneur  and motivational speaker, Victor Vikizitha Mpusula (who was representing National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), Precious Mvulane, Innovator and is the co-founder of Millbug, Sabelo Sibanda, social activist and vibrant multitalented media personality, Zoliswa Woo Ntaka, Digital media specialist Matthew Sanego Motsweni, Author and Speaker, Ackson King Mwami, prominent House Music DJ and business person Tebogo Siyaphi A.K.A Ms Jones.

Some of the topics they addressed include financial management, how to seize business opportunities, creating a sustainable brands how to use business connections wisely, customer relations skills, how to building business mental prowess and many other important elements that entrepreneurs need to know and do in order to make their businesses successful and sustainable.

The information shared and network formations of the inaugural Movers and shakers seminar left tongues wagging and asking for more.

One of those pleased entrepreneurs was the 2014 Activator Xolane Voro – Da Viruz Ngobozana. He applauded his fellow Activator, Sthembile Ahadi Zondo for organising “One of the best youth business seminars” with South Africa’s young successful entrepreneurs, life coaches and authors. Ngobozana said “The seminars came at a perfect time for me as an entrepreneur. All speakers imparted useful information that will help me as an entrepreneur to grow. I will to use the information and networks I acquired here as wisely as I can. “

Another social change driver, David Nongxa, applauded the organiser for putting together the “best” youth motivational speakers. Nongxa also commended speaker’s relevant content continuity. “It was my first time being on a seminar full of young entrepreneurs. I was really inspired by all the speakers’ stories. Somehow their stories helped me to discover myself as aspiring entrepreneur. My highlight or biggest learning on the day was the presentation by Precious Mvulane. I really like the part where she was explaining why “One needs to understand the business he or she wants to venture. One needs to know the regulations. I think this is where most emerging entrepreneurs need to really learn to focus on because a failure to follow such regulations might lead to one’s business destruction.” he said.


5 Minutes With Chelsey

What’s your passion?
I have a number of things I am passionate about, namely, my faith in God and my roles as a woman, a South African citizen and a business owner. Privilege and power, feminism and sustainability really get me going.

What change are you keen to drive?
I want to combat poverty through fostering a culture of entrepreneurship.

How are you driving change?
In 2012, my friend Alison Stewart and I launched Feat. sock co. a manufacturing company geared towards encouraging entrepreneurship and supporting local business. 

We identified a gap in the South African market for locally made feature socks and what started off as a side project is now a well-known brand, producing high-quality, designer cotton and wool-blend socks. 
Supporting local business all production is kept to Cape Town.

We are currently working on a new business model as an off shoot of the business ‘FEAT. sock co.’ Our new model seeks to ‘support the bold in pursuing their dreams’ by offering them a low-risk means to become financially independent. 

How has ACTIVATE! supported you so far in driving this change?
The support we have been given from ACTIVATE! in workshopping our project proposal and asking ourselves the ‘right’ questions around our role as South Africans, has been so helpful.

Networking has been the greatest asset of our business and every other project I have been involved in. Finding people who are also passionate about growth in this country (and not just their own personal gain) is key… network with people who have the same heart that you do, otherwise the relationship is not mutually beneficial and you are left feeling drained and untrusting. 

Networking with fellow Activators! has really assisted my growth. I have joined in debates and community projects that fellow Activators have initiated and I love it. It’s exciting to be part of a movement of people who are all passionate about positive change.

How do you motivate yourself?
I pursue God and His purpose for my life, and He refreshes and motivates me.

Final comment?
My vision for everyone, South Africa and myself included, is to aid in fostering an environment that places awareness at the top of the value chain. I believe the biggest obstruction to change is wilful ignorance – people choosing to know less because knowing more makes them uncomfortable. Once you learn something, it cannot be unlearned. And that starts to move you to implement change in small ways. 

My favourite quote at the moment is from Melanie Joy:  “Without awareness there is no free choice. We’re all participants in the system, for better or worse. Our choice isn’t whether we participate but how we participate. With awareness we can choose to be active witnesses or passive bystanders. We can choose to be informed consumers and empowered citizens.”

Building Our Phungashe Community Radio – challenges and possibilities

I have always loved radio.  My dream to be a radio journalist started when I was very young listening to my granny’s radio sparked my curiosity and life-long passion to understand the world. Every day I would ask myself about the lives of the people whose voices I heard on radio.  How were their lives similar to mine, and to the lives of my peers?  How were they different? What were their biggest challenges?

As a child, I moved through rural life, without analysing whether or not it was fair that we studied under a tree, when others didn’t, or sacrificed hours supposed to be dedicated to study, in order to fetch water from the river for our school.  Still, I wondered if the people that I heard on my granny’s radio had the lives that were like mine – or different, perhaps different in interesting ways.

When I enrolled at Rhodes University in 2009, I faced a shocking challenge. I still remember my first lecture – a course in politics, taught by Professor Louis Vincent.   I could not understand even a single word of what she was saying!  In Grades 4 through 12, our school instruction was nominally in English – but, in my community, no one – not even our teachers – was really able to speak or understand English.  The pain of suddenly having to cope with unintelligible lectures by native English speakers was unbearable. I was hurt and angry. I had been a good student.  I was supposed to have been taught English.  Why should I be tortured like this?  One day I made a decision – I would work to ensure that, in future, no child from Phungashe would suffer as I had to suffer. I started a tutorial project.  Unfortunately, the project was short-lived, as I was studying far away in Grahamstown.  But I never abandoned – and never will abandon – my commitment to helping to expand the horizons of younger people in my home community.

When I finished at Rhodes in 2011, I looked for jobs serving my community, without success. Then, early in 2012, my mother told me about the Family Maths programme, which was just being launched in seven schools in my community.  At last, the opportunity I had been waiting for – the chance to work for and with my community!

In Family Maths, I met amazing people.  My peers were very fun, hard-working and inspirational young people. The project director was a 60-year-old, white, American woman who broke every stereotype.  She asserted that, “South Africa’s wealth is not in gold or diamonds. It’s in the untapped talent of its young people – especially in rural areas.”  Across barriers of language and culture, she was able to see each team member’s intelligence, talent, and leadership potential.  She challenged us to consider the kind of future we hoped for – in South Africa, and in the world – and encouraged us to take responsibility for building that better world.  With her support, our entire team of seven Family Maths youth facilitators gained admission to the Activate! Leadership Program.  

Meeting other inspirational young South Africans was an honour – and an explosion of discovery!  . We realised that we are not alone in making the world a better place. There are many other powerful, intelligent, young South Africans who are committed to building justice and democracy.

The first Activate home task was an eye-opener.  In order to complete the task we had to get the municipality’s Integrated Development Plan (IDP).  I didn’t know that an IDP was a public document which any citizen is entitled to see, or that it was intended to empower communities to keep their local government accountable and responsible.

We asked our ward councillor to give us our IDP, and got every kind of excuse and stalling tactic.   He ‘couldn’t find it’, or ‘forgot’ that we had asked for it.  We never received it, and learned from Activators in other parts of the country that they encountered similar delays and dodges.

This experience was frustrating – but it also inspired a great idea.  I started asking myself what my community knows about its own local government, and their rights as citizens.  Do they even know what the IDP is – much less their rights vis a vis the IDP – not merely their right to see it, but their right to help to shape it?   And, if my community is not aware of these rights, what can I do to help change that?  

We can’t keep our government accountable unless we know our Constitution and laws.  But Phungashe is a poor rural area with high illiteracy.  How could we reach our population with news of their rights, and effective ways to exercise them?  This is where the concept of Our Phungashe Community Radio was born.  

To build democracy in our community we need the means to communicate within the community and to receive news from the larger world.  We need to know our rights and how to use them, how to access resources.  We need a place to learn, and to teach, to express ourselves culturally, politically, spiritually, and musically – in our own language. Radio is the medium that can reach every citizen regardless of literacy.  Community Radio can broadcast essential information, and cultural heritage, in the local language, as well as offering exposure to languages local people may want to learn (so that, in future,  no child of Phungashe needs to suffer like I did, when they leave the local community to attend classes at University.)  Phungashe Community Radio reflects the both name of the location of the broadcast signal, and the name of the community which we serve.  Hence, Phungashe Community Radio.  When we say Our Phungashe Community Radio, the Our emphasizes that we are building a station owned and controlled by the whole community.

Our Phungashe Community radio was conceived via Activate, and Activate has helped us at each stage of our development this far.  The SWITCH programme helped me to fine-tune the idea of Phungashe radio, and to articulate who is it for, and why we need our own community controlled radio station.

Of course, there are challenges along the way.  I am currently studying in Johannesburg, and all the team members need to make a living. On one hand, our other work takes time away from the development of the station.  On the other hand, we need to work – not only to pay our rent and to eat, but also to earn money to the make phone calls and pay for the data to communicate with people who can help us build this project.

Similarly, Activate! has introduced us to experts who can help us, pro bono, with the process of building a community radio station. This is good!  But, like us, they have day jobs.  Which means we must wait until they have free time to consult with us.

Even stakeholders like ICASA and SENTECH take time to respond to our emails. On their end, their budgets do not support sufficient staff.  On ours, there isn’t enough money to go to their offices and ask things face-to-face, when emails and phone calls prove insufficient.

Dealing with official offices has also involved many delays.   Registering our NGO took us more than six months. Every time we went to our local social development office, they would say the manager was working “out of office’, and that we should we should return the following day. After this happened several times, we learned from Activate! that we could apply online!

Applying online solved our bottle-neck, but it reinforced the need for other sources of income.  Where we live, like many other rural communities, there is neither internet, nor a copy/scanning shop.  We could not have found the resources to take a taxi into town, and pay internet charges, etc., if we were not all working at other jobs, in parallel with developing Our Phungashe Community Radio.

The idea of a community controlled radio station also sparks challenges internal to the community.  Who is the community? Politics in Phungashe is dominated by parties – one party has a strong majority; another has the loyalty of a small but devoted minority.  Prominent citizens have well-known affiliations.

We are about to present the proposal for Our Phungashe Community Radio at a public meeting.  My greatest fear has always been that those in positions of power would attempt to co-opt Our Phungashe Community Radio, for their own ends, as they have done with many structures in our community.

Our Phungashe Community Radio is not for the powerful, for any party, for me, my colleagues, or our families. It must exist for the whole community, if it is to exist at all.

How, then, can we gain the support we need and avoid being co-opted?  Is mobilizing support from individuals in the community the solution?  If we had a one (or a few) major donors, would they not expect to be able to dictate our programming and editorial policy?

With support from our colleagues in Activate!, we move forward, step by step, understanding that sustainability of community radio with local democratic control  is a conundrum for us, and a puzzle whose solution will be of interest to Community Radio across South Africa, and across the world.  

5 Minutes With Nomfundo

What’s your passion?

Youth leadership, activism and employment.

I am also very passionate about law and how it can assist people in their lives.

Since obtaining my law degree I have joined a few organisations and have realised that I can uplift communities with my skills.

What change are you keen to drive?

I want the youth – especially the younger ones – to realise that there is so much value in studying after school. I’ve seen many people get lost in a system where people think that all they need is a matric to get a job.   

I feel as though it’s my mission to make them realise there’s more out there and motivate them to do something. Encouraging them to join organisations or civil movements and get actively engaged and involved.

How are you driving change?

Currently I hold a seat in the South African branch of the Organisation of African Youth. I am the secretary for human rights, constitutional development, democracy and youth leadership.

I am also involved in a project that has workshops in schools that assist and direct youth towards their career choices. We help them apply to universities and choose the best courses that will suite their interests and subject choices. To gain experience, we encourage them to volunteer.

How has ACTIVATE! supported you so far in driving this change?

ACTIVATE! has helped me discover more about myself, it has allowed me to look at things from another perspective and explore. I have also learned the value and importance of networking and teaming with like-minded individuals who have different skills. Together with fellow Activators, we formed The Cabinet.  We are here to inspire each other and whenever someone is doing something we pitch up and support each other.

Before ACTIVATE! I never felt as though I fitted into the community. I have an accent and a different type of outlook on things, so I had a lot of barriers that I needed to overcome. But then I decided, “I know why I’m doing it, I know that there are people who need me to keep doing what I’m doing. So I’m going to do it anyway, whether people relate or not.”

How do you motivate yourself?

Realising that if I don’t get out of bed and actively make the changes that I want to see in the world, no one else will.

My motivation is also to achieve my goal of working at the United Nations. I want to go that far because I want to make changes beyond my community.

Final comment?

The youth need to take ownership and realise that we are the custodians of South Africa and we need to do more. We must make our voices heard and launch a youth parliament so that we can work together and change South Africa positively.

One Blood

On 14 August 2015, young people gathered at the Manila Bar on corner of Longmarket and Long Street for the launch and first event of One Blood. From outside, seeing the neon lights flashing, hearing the loud voices and music escaping through the open window on the third floor, one could have dismissed this party as one of the many that take place in the city of Cape Town on weekends. However they would have been wrong, something with much more purpose was going on here, a party with a purpose. These young people gathered here were not only concerned about a good time but a good cause. They had come to witness the launch of One Blood.

One Blood is a campaign aimed at bringing a diverse group of people together in order to eradicate fear and create a more accepting society. Talking to Matt and Tom, the two organisers of the event and the brains behind One Blood, the campaigns intentions are not doubtful.

“We want to connect people, both physically and through dialogue” Matt says.

One Blood works within the bigger umbrella that is Activate, a network of young leaders equipped to drive change for the public good across South Africa.

One might have questioned the idea to hold One Blood’s first event at a club on Long Street but from the musical programme that was punctuated with short speeches from Matt and Tom, the games that encouraged complete strangers to talk to one another and to physically connect by holding hands, it was clear that the young were not only going to dance and sign but connect as per the mantra for One Blood campaign.

On the wall, there is a poster that poses the central question about the event, “Is music and dance a good way to connect with people?”

Lunghelo Mlati, one of the many young people that had come to the event, answers the question the wall poised at everyone who was present at the event “It’s possible to drive change without removing any normal elements, what’s important is the approach”

The Activate! Programme, the umbrella to which One Blood was started, supports young leaders to hone their abilities and to step up to tackle some of toughest problems facing their communities around the country.

Choosing the musicians to perform at the event was a decision not taken lightly. The artist’s politics and lyrics were considered before they were chosen to perform. Their message had to echo the One Blood’s objectives. And it did, Poetics rapped about knowledge and tolerance, Young Folks sang about the bright possibilities of the new South Africa, and Los Tacos, consist of musicians from different background that the initiative to promote togetherness amongst people is embodied in their band membership.

The other artist that performed was Warongx, who whilst beaming with a smile told me that “It is not about money today but connecting with people”

Cape Town is largely known for its lack of inclusivity and Warongx is aware of this. They pointed out that such an initiative should be extended to the township. The organisers are aware of this are making plans to do exactly this, take the initiative’s events to marginalised communities. In fact, Tom told me, the next event will be hosted in Langa.

The One Blood campaign began after the latest spate of Xenophobic attacks that occurred around the country. At first, they had planned a flash mob but Matt and Tom thought instead that it was worth starting a campaign, something that was going to unravel over time and not only happen once.

This is exactly what this country needs, a campaign against Xenophobia that understands that Xenophobia is not an overnight sensation, that people do not go to bed with love for their African brothers and sisters and wake up hating them the next morning. These feelings build up over time, build up in the time when the attacks are not happening and then burst into bloody attacks.

Tom started a movement called Sustainable Brothers & Sisters. The movement intended to connect people to people, and people to nature. He then realised that it is better to fix the people and not the environment. He wanted to connect people and as Activate have been doing the same thing, he joined them.

A campaign like One Blood then is not a reactionary response to Xenophobia but an everyday philosophy that the young people can live by.

The spirit of a good party still lingered in the venue, even with the huge responsibility that was being tackled here, someone shouted “The night is young”

Throughout the night, from both Matt and Tom and the bands that performed there, kept spreading the common concept of One Blood, connecting people.

One Blood aims to connect SA citizens from all different backgrounds (racial, ethnic & cultural) by getting to know individuals on a deeper level thus creating a bond between strangers and eradicating fear amongst them” the One Blood Facebook page reads.

The objectives of the campaign include transformation, connectivity, youth in action/solidarity, changing attitudes towards foreigners, create sense of belonging, provide a basic human need and promote Human Rights.

By the time the night came to an end, with the young people exhausted from dancing, screaming but their mind set also changed about how and what they can do to make this world a better place, One Blood had answered the question about how does one get to young people and talk to them.

Lunghelo Mlati, an attendee, answered my question about whether the youth can lead the country forward by simply saying ”If not the youth then who, to be honest we are the future.”

The best thing that was said that night came from the lead vocalist of Young Folks, a rock band from Stellenbosch, “There is a lot of hope in South Africa” he said.


5 Minutes With Liza

What’s your passion?

As a photojournalist, I am passionate about people and for South Africa to celebrate each other and our differences, to work together and improve lives, especially in Kempton Park – where I’m born and bred.

My passion area in community work is fundraising. I have to say I really enjoy that, but also being part of the events and helping plan the events that we host at the organisation I’m part of, Helpende Hand.

What change are you keen to drive?

Education, community upliftment, poverty, environmental awareness and charity.

I want to encourage the celebration of our history and who we are through culture. I feel like we sometimes lose that a bit, you know, and it’s important because we’re all South Africans and we all have different cultures, and people tend to stick to their own culture rather than exploring other cultures.

In my community work with Helpende Hande, I’ve seen a huge gap between people that live in Glen Marais, Tembisa and Bredell and a mind shift needs to happen. People need to be aware that it’s not ‘us and them‘, it’s we all work together to improve our lives.

How are you driving change?

As a volunteer at Helpende Hande, we educate, empower and uplift communities through various interventions and cultural enrichment activities. We have a mobile theatre that we take to old age homes and screen traditional Afrikaans films. We also collect books and host stationery drives and distribute what we collect across our network. Using my professional skills, I create multimedia packages for the organisation, showcasing what we do these are used at our conferences.

In addressing environmental affairs, I initiated a mini-recycling platform where we encourage people to recycle.

At my full time job, a company called V2 Publishers, we launched a free newspaper for women in Pretoria called ‘Ladies’ about empowering and educating women. I take photographs and write stories for the publication. I also work part-time for a student website called  

How has ACTIVATE! supported you so far in driving this change?

ACTIVATE! has really opened a lot of doors for me in terms of community development and encouraging me to branch out of my comfort zone. I also feel that it has opened me to more exposure, especially in my career.  The journey has led my involvement with Helpende Hand. Through this, I’ve learnt new skills and can definitely say that I am constantly pushing towards new heights. Last year, we (Kempton Park) were voted the best branch in Gauteng

Networking with fellow Activators has also proved very beneficial and inspiring. Meeting people from all walks of life has been amazing. We support and learn from each other.  

How do you motivate yourself?

I set myself goals and follow steps to achieve them. I make sure that I take every opportunity that comes my way, and I never say no. Some people say that’s a bad thing, I say it’s a good thing. I read something that says, “Never say no, even if you don’t have time, you will figure out how to do it later.”

Final comment?

Many feel where they come from dictates their future, they don’t realise the information that is out there and what they can achieve if they look for opportunities. People need to believe that they can rise above their circumstances.

Youth also need to focus on gaining work experience. Many believe when you get a qualification you’ll get a job, but the market is saturated with graduates. Do an internship during the holidays, even if it’s unpaid, just do something.


PROVINCE:  Gauteng

MUNICIPAL DISTRICT: Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality

Activator since: 2013



5 Minutes With Lethiwe Nkosi

What’s your passion?

I am passionate about writing, observing people’s lives and learning from their experiences.

What change are you keen to drive?

Sustainable employment, it’s not enough for someone to be employed, we need to ask what kind of employment it is and can they grow in the role?

I believe  youth have valuable insight into what they want to see in their communities and in order for them to be confident in sharing their ideas they need role models who can show them how to initiate change.  

How are you driving change?

I’m a Business Development Officer at Gold Peer Education Development Agency, an organisation that works with high school learners in education, health and youth leadership transformation.

My role provides financial and material support. I manage relationships with individual donors. I am also involved in marketing, which entails writing blogs about what’s happening on the sites, telling success stories of the young people we work with and marketing it to external audience so they can support us.

Outside of my full time job, I identify individuals who are unemployed and assist them. Currently I’m working with Ntombela Thandu – which means ‘lady of love’ in Xhosa – she is living on the streets and wants to be employed. She does not have an ID document so I’m looking into how she can get one so that she can get employment – not any kind but the type that will have meaning in her life.

How has ACTIVATE! supported you so far in driving this change?

ACTIVATE! has challenged me to think laterally and has taught me the principle of understanding a problem before I can solve it.

The tools I gained have helped me become more structured and has enhanced the work I do. I’m always thinking about how I can use my skills to continue being a change agent.

Many Activators have said to me that before they joined ACTIVATE! they were just happily going along in their lives but now that they are Activators they feel driven to do something. Now I can’t just talk it, I’ve got to walk it.

How do you motivate yourself?

My faith motivates me, I’m a Christian, and I understand that every day has a purpose, no matter how challenging it may be. I want to be a lighthouse for people and shed light on the undiscovered areas of their lives and help them realise their dreams.

Final comment?

No man is an island, we can learn so much from each other. People need to stop working in silence and become vigilant about those around them who can aid them in bringing the change they want to see.

Lastly, I think people must get out of their comfort zones and become involved with what’s happening outside their community. I live in an affluent area and I think leadership in my community needs to encourage people to get more involved. We’re privileged for a reason and we can use our privileges to assist those that are less privileged.


Womens Day picnic fundraiser helps get Mlekeleli to America

THE smell of weekend braais wafting across the lawn and the happy sound of children playing freely created a welcoming atmosphere last Saturday, 08 August 2015, at the “Women in the Frontline” fundraising picnic organised by Activator Mlekeleli Khuzwayo.

In addition to celebrating Women’s Month, the event was part of a fundraising campaign to raise funds for a business trip to America to train with American martial artist Billy Blanks.

Khuzwayo is well-known in the INK (Inanda/Ntuzuma/KwaMashu) area for organising a number of free-to-attend Body Workout fitness events which aim to improve the health of his fellow community members.

He started his dance and fitness journey at an after-school programme where instructor, Eric Shabalala, taught township children to dance. Khuzwayo’s career flourished from there as he joined the Phenduka Dance Theatre Company in 2001 and formed part of the choreography team for the renowned Jomba! dance festival in 2005. He has collaborated with a number of South African Dance companies and performed with German-based dance group, Afrika-Afrika, in Europe.

Throughout his career, however, Khuzwayo’s underlying passion has been to advance the lives of his community through dance and exercise.

“The fundraiser is to raise the R45 000 needed for a trip to America where I will train under Billy Blanks,” explained Khuzwayo.

Blanks is a famous American martial artist, fitness guru, actor and creator of the Tae Bo workout routine. He is an instantly recognisable name in KwaMashu where a number of residents have grown up getting fit to his videos. Khuzwayo himself has incorporated elements of Blanks’ routine into his own gym sessions and it has been a lifelong dream of his to learn under the fitness guru.

“It will be a week-long training course and I hope to build a relationship with Blanks to organise for him to come out to South Africa next year for the INK Body Workout. This will benefit everyone in the community.”

Khuzwayo organised the family picnic day with a focus on women empowerment.

There were car washes, braais and a number of performances, all done by women. Children were thoroughly entertained with a jumping castle and face painting on the day.

Sam Ngcobo, an assistant at Triple B gym who helps Khuzwayo with all organisational matters, said they were so pleased with the great turnout.

“We had been promoting the event through the gym, giving members tickets to re-sell,” explained Ngcobo. “Today is all about the women. We have provided a platform for up-and-coming local artists, because Mlekeleli is an artist and he believes in developing local talent.”

eThekwini Municipality also came on board, supporting Khuzwayo’s health initiatives from the start, with the Department of Arts and Culture assisting with the provision of a stage, marquee and sound system on the day.

Activators came out in full support with families and friends in tow. Activator Nontobeko Mbatha, praised the event saying it had an “enjoyable atmosphere”.

“It’s great that people are here supporting someone like Mlekeleli. This is a fantastic event where a young person is trying to activate something constructive. It’s very encouraging,” she said. 

Fellow Activator, Brian Mchunu, echoed her sentiments. “It’s been really wonderful, such a fantastic experience. The place is great, the music has been great and the people are great,” said the Pinetown resident.

Heading up the car wash was Mpume Mdlalose, who has been a gym member for eight months. 

“Everyone at the gym had the opportunity to get involved today and it’s been really successful,” said Mdlalose, who is currently studying dance.

Another gym-goer helping out on the day was Makhosi Qhobosheane. Serving food to the picnickers, Qhobosheane said she was excited about the event’s success.

“We are helping Mlekeleli while helping other women,” she said.

Local resident, Ntombi Mbatha, who was attending the event with her family, said the experience had been very good.

 “I really enjoyed the poetry in the morning. It was by two girls who must have been 14 or 15 years old. They were wonderful.”

 Khuzwayo said the fundraiser was a great start towards getting him to the United States in October and that he would also be reaching out to local businesses and organisations for further support.

5 Minutes With Zimkhitha

What’s your passion?
Uplifting communities and helping youth with challenges they are facing. I want to be the voice for the ones that cannot speak for themselves and let them be heard. I believe by helping one person you can enrich an entire community.  

What change are you keen to drive?
Unemployment, skills development, poverty, school drop outs and teenage pregnancy. Growing up I suffered from depression and I really want to help youth going through what I went through, so that they don’t feel like they are facing their life trials alone. 

How are you driving change?
Reaching out using diverse ways, I am working with a group of youth from King William’s Town that focuses on youth facilitation through art, drama, dance and poetry. We go to various areas and raise awareness on issues through our performances. By spreading information in a different way we are hoping that the youth will take heed of what we are communicating. 

How has ACTIVATE! supported you so far in driving this change?
ACTIVATE! has really given me the information and tools needed to develop my community. I am now able to recognise problems, talk to people and think out-of-the-box when looking for solutions. I feel empowered when talking to stakeholders and getting everyone involved in changing situations.

When I feel stuck looking for solutions, networking and sharing ideas with my fellow Activators in KZN has been a great help, they provide me with direction when I really need it. Before joining ACTIVATE! I’d have ideas but I wouldn’t know what to do with them now I know what I need to make them a reality. 

How do you motivate yourself?
I pray and think about how I can motivate others using my life experiences. Being able to encourage someone to never give up and working with them to find solutions inspires me.  

Final comment?
Decisions are being made for the youth, on our behalf, but no one is talking to us about the challenges we are facing. Voices of South African youth need to be heard, we must speak out, I believe that when we are given a platform then our county will be a better place for all. 

Connect with Zimkhitha: 

Tel: 076 534 7178 Email: 

Calling All Young Change Makers to Shape SA’s Future and Join ACTIVATE! Youth Network for 2016! Applications for ACTIVATE! 2016 are now open. To apply, click the Apply Now button on the ACTIVATE! homepage at 

Activating Youth Day

In commemorating the slain 1976 young heroes and heroines, Liberty Youth Movement Director and Hammanskraal-based Activator Thabang Phokungwana mobilised his community on 16 June 2015 to address youth challenges like substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, unemployment, crime and illiteracy among young people.

The well-attended event started with 5km march from the iconic community Carousal Hotel to the Dooka Primary School. It was followed by deep self-introspection sessions by community leaders, motivational speakers, academic youth leaders and local icons, youth from Carousel View and Bosplaas East, school kids and handful elders.

Inspired by the ACTIVATE! community development principles and values, Phokungwana used the Youth Day public holiday to promote health awareness and to share work and educational opportunities to all aspiring youth leaders not just his community only but to the entire North West province as a whole.

“Almost everywhere in South Africa young and old commemorate the day, but as a young leader and the only Activator in my area, I decided that I will organise an event that remembers the past, confronts the present and shapes a better future for young people in my community. We deliberately went slightly against what everyone expected. We wanted to use the day as the start of new greater youth driven sustainable initiatives,” Thabang said when explaining the significance of the day.

The brave young leader rebuked youth with entitlement mentality. He said being stuck to what the past youth have done for the country and or singing shouting political slogans will not do the current youth any favour or help them to fight new enemies in the form of things like HIV, substance abuse, unemployment, poverty and crime. 

Other speakers included the local based life coach Collen Msiza, Hip Hop artist, Carousel, Dooka primary school teacher Emanuel Gwenzi, Liberty Youth Movement member young academic expert John Mkwebo.

Msiza’s message to those who attended was that every good that has ever been achieved by a group of people or a country starts with one person. “The 1976 youth Soweto uprising was inspired or started by one person. You and I too can start something that will change this country for the better. Those young people who made things happen had not waited for things to happen. The reverse of that is true about our generation.”

Mkwebo also said that he finds it embarrassing that the current youth with all the rights, resources and opportunities are the ones who are allowing the significance of such a historical day’s true meaning to fade away the way it is doing. He also asked tough personal question about the ungrateful conduct of some who occupy political offices and are abusing power and oppressing the masses and deprive or squander opportunities, just like the apartheid regime did. 

Special guests in attendance at the youth day event included one of the surviving leaders of the 1976 June Soweto Uprising, Seth Mazibuko, who applauded the progressive youth formation and the legendary photographer, Sam Nzima, who took the famous Hector Peterson and Mbuyiselo Mkhubo picture on 16 June 1976. 

The retired photographer applauded the likes of Thabang Phokungwana and visionary youth formations like ACTIVATE! Change Drivers who continue to play important leadership roles. “We have to give credit to those young people who are still doing their best to lead this country forward,” said Nzima.

5 Minutes With Nazareen

What’s your passion? Philanthropy and entrepreneurship. I’m most happy when I’m helping somebody, giving somebody knowledge or connecting them to the right person. Also, collaboration is very important.

What change are you keen to drive? Decreasing unemployment and increasing human dignity. I also want people to become more socially aware. We need to change our mindsets. That scarring and the way people still think and speak is in everything. Apartheid succeeded very, very well in putting up huge barriers…

How are you driving change? Until now I’ve been quite involved in trying to build my own credibility as a business person. My ACTIVATE! project is to use the business corner at our local municipal library to educate middle and lower-income communities about entrepreneurship, through online forums, e-learning and/or thought leaders.

How has ACTIVATE! supported you so far in driving this change? Helping me to listen more and understand things better. Offering an environment where I am respected and feel part of a team.

What do you think is the priority in setting the agenda for our country over the next five years? Entrepreneurship, which relates to employment, literacy and skills transfer; sex education and woman and child abuse.

How do you motivate yourself? Good exercise gives me purpose, motivates me and helps me think more clearly. And then I have a belief that we all have greatness in us. There’s a point in living on this planet. You have to help people, recognise others and their needs.

Final comment? I’m definitely not your typical Muslim Indian female in South Africa. Indian females these days are doing well, have excellent positions, and push radical change.

Nazareen Ebrahim

Province: Kwazulu Natal

Municipal district: Phoenix, Durban

Activator since 2014