5 Minutes With Sibusiso

What is your passion?

My passion is varied, I can’t really say I’m passionate about one thing per se. However, I am passionate about two things: The abolishing of the exploitative nature of our economic system- which is capitalism. I am a passionate Marxist-Leninist, which is committed to the struggles of the working people. Secondly, I am passionate about education transformation and youth development through educational means. Those are my fundamental passions which of course have their own underlying passions as well. But I’m more into the socio-political development of the youth and workers in general. Even more so, I am very passionate about education transformation, I am of the view that education is the primary tool at the hands of the poor to self-liberation, especially an education system which allows the poor to self-emancipate themselves from psychological neo-colonial thinking. But also I am very much passionate about Economics. It fascinates me as a discipline of study and as a system, so I am also studying towards a qualification in B.Admin Economics. I have recently been awarded by Stellenbosch University and Die Burger 2015 Young Economist 2015, yes that has been a highlight.

 

What change are you keen to drive?

That’s a tricky one. The problems of the youth in South Africa are interconnected. Crime, inequality and joblessness are all indirectly connected to crisis of a class divided society in terms of wealth distribution. But even more so, they are connected to the minimal access to education. Therefore, the change that I seek to drive is not a sectorial change. But have a holistic approach from different spectrums of the challenges we face as South Africa, the core crisis of our problem is the structural set up of our economic system. I am saying so, because it governs even the content we are taught at school. Therefore, the change I want to drive is a change that is centered on the people’s self-determination from a socio-economic perspective. Politics and education alone cannot be the driving force for change, People must be motive forces of change through being conscious of the fundamental enemy which is capitalism. I want to be able to help people be conscious enough to understand they’re their own liberators. Hence my Nickname Commissar (meaning a military political educator) from the political sphere.

How are you driving change?

Well, as Activators we drive change in many different ways. However, considering who and how I am, I have chosen to drive change through political and human right and youth movement’s activism. I am a member of various political organizations and youth movements, through my participation in these movement, I believe I am driving change. But since I joined the network, I am exposed to other elements of political and social interactions to drive change. Youth Dialogues and other mechanism have also being introduced to. Also, I am delegate to the One Young World Summit in Bangkok. Which is also a platform to drive change in the global arena. So basically I’m saying, there are stagnant ways that I stick to, to drive change, all effective tools at our disposal must be utilized.

 

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

Activate has played a critical role in helping drive change in the sense that, it has opened opportunities for me to drive change from a different perspective and different type of youth that has similar ideals as me. It has also assisted me with a capacity to be able drive change outside my comfort zone which is politics but I am able to branch into arts, creative writing, etc. Therefore, the capacity building role that Activate has played cannot be compared to anything else. For an example, I have been meaning to start my own consulting company for some time, but because of the capacity that Activate brings out of a person I now have an Activator who is willing to help me put that down so the plan can be a reality. So more than anything else, Activate has grown from a leadership perspective and has provided me with the necessary support system.

What do you think is the priority in setting the agenda for our country in the next 5 years?

I think the main priorities with setting the agenda for our country in the next 5 years, should start with state capacity building in the developing itself as a developing country that has capacity for self-sustenance. We cannot run away from the fact that as South Africa we do not exist in isolation from global economic system. This requires a number of things, I will mention 3: Education system, The country needs to invest more in education, not just infrastructure but the content of education. We need to create an education system that is responsive to the unique challenges of South African society, a system where a child who gets out a technical school does not feel they are obligated to go to varsity in order to be something. An education system that is uniform and accessible to everyone. Further, as a country we play a more active role in the governance of Higher Education institution, we must not create ivory towers out of these institutions. they must be people’s institutions for people’s power! Secondly, the country’s capacity to manage and administer itself must be a priority, it cannot be correct that our country today is still on a back lock on doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers and economists and they must consult with private sector. The state need to re-capacitate itself with all the relevant administrative tool so as it can be effective in delivering services to its citizens. Lastly, there needs to be paradigm shift in wealth redistribution. The inequality gap is just unacceptance, yes! We understand that is a product of 3 centuries worth of segregation. But the state, must be begin to take more radical measures in rectifying injustices of the past. Our economic system, especially our Macroeconomic policy, must focus more industrialization with and aim to also expand our services sector so as to be able export more and increase our Gross National Income. Therefore, I think that’s where our priorities should be focused then we can be in a position to respond to the question of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

How do you motivate yourself?

I motivate myself by envying other Activators making wave around the country. I am just joking! But I guess, my background and home environment remain one of my key motivations. From where I come from, I come from a family of 5 boys and I being the middle one. So, it has always be a competitive at home, I got to learn to be self-motivated from a young age. Seeing my older brothers not reaching certain things because of circumstances has not only motivated me but remains a burning fire inside me to be a better person. Having being raised by grandparents.That are not anywhere near being rich or being a well-respected family. I wake up every day and say, “Because of me, the Maneli name will be known respected not only here but all over the world”, that statement keeps me going. That’s what drives me, for my grandmother to pass from this earth having said my grandson is a Doctor and she has seen beyond the shackles of poverty and destitution. That’s what motivates me.

Final comment

Well, firstly thank you for the opportunity and further thanks to Activate for having me as well as part of their network. Activators, I once said this in at the second module training. “There’s no worst punishment which we could give to our children than the punishment of allowing them to inherit the kind of South Africa we live in. If we dare fail our generational mission, our kids and generations thereafter, would piss on top of our graves”. We have a responsibility, each one of us and collectively out of our relative obscurity, have to find our mission, fulfil it or betray it. Lest we be judged harshly by history! Thank you

 

This has been such a wonderful experience. Again I really appreciate the opportunity


Activators taking the lead in issues of national interest

Gauteng Activators joined dozens of young people from Gauteng in robust dialogue about youth participation in elections in Braamfontein at the  iconic liberation Constitution Hill on the 23rd of October.

The Corruption Watch Youth Campaign event ‘Youth To The Polls’ was hosted by human rights activists and social change driver, Mzwandile Banjathwa and it interrogated the current electoral system, underlying reasons for youth voter decline and many factors that have a potential to affect the upcoming municipal elections. The event was supported by Constitution Hill, the Electoral Commission of South Africa, Local government Action group (LGA) and Activate Leadership.

Corruption Watch is one of the leading Civil Society Organisation whose objective includes fighting corruption and the abuse of public funds in South Africa. The organization also provides a platform for young people to get an opportunity to interact and engage with public figures and institutions that resembles ethics and integrity on various topics around corruption, transparency, governance and various socioeconomic.

In the past, Corruption Watch has mounted a Youth campaign under the theme #MyHandsAreClean, with the aim of helping youth to understand what it means to live in a constitutional democracy, how corruption affects them and the role youth have to play.  Moving forward the organization is intending to host several activation on university campuses.

Participants highlighted a number of critical observations  from past elections that might discourage young people from going to the polls in the upcoming municipal elections. Those issues include, youth being used to gain positions and then neglected after the elections,  the role and the mandate of local government, the patronizing and emotional blackmailing communications strategies by politicians during elections seasons, the powerlessness of municipal or grassroots leaders. (Even going on to describe councilors as “talking heads with no power to influence policy), social economic challenges, corruption and maladministration of government perceptions as some of the reasons young people are not participating in municipal elections.    

Gauteng Activator Bongi Ndlovu explained the logic behind Activate Leadership’s to support for the youth integrity debates and democracy advancing initiatives. Ndlovu said “At Activate Leadership we teach youth how to navigate and populate political structures. Organizations such as those you mentioned are key stakeholders in our communities. So, a strategic partnership with them is vital to drive change at the grassroots level.”

The Electoral Commissions representative, Lonwabo Jwili’s presentation focused on the upcoming 2016 elections. Jwili spoke a little bit about the work that the Electoral Commission is doing in preparations for the upcoming elections. He also provided information on how young people can better interrogate political party manifestos, strategies for holding political leaders responsible (but emphasised that the Electoral Commission can only work within the stipulated legislation and could not interfere in political and party  issues) and many other important issues that the electorate needs to  know and how to apply it when the needs arises.

Renowned columnist, political analyst and the first democratic South Africa IEC National Head of Information Analysis Department, Steven Eli Friedman applauded youth who make take time to discuss important issues like elections. The former University of Johannesburg and Rhodes University for Centre of Study of Democracy leader said “If you look at the figures for participation by young people in our elections, they are high by international standards.  So there probably isn’t a way of attracting more young people to the polls.”

Friedman went on to dismiss some of the claims that young people are not interested in top political leadership elections or appointment. “We do not have youth apathy problem here, so there is nothing which needs to be fixed. Voters everywhere tend to be less interested in municipal elections because they feel much less is at stake.  Most tend to believe that important decisions are taken at national level or in the provinces.  Our participation rates are very high by the world standards.“ said Friedman

Banjathwa encouraged youth not to distance themselves from issues of national importance because the decisions that are taken by elders now will affect youth in future. “I think it is wise to be more active now while things are not that bad because things might be bad when we are older”, he says.

Digging for Dignity with David

Please introduce yourself

My name is David Leholobe Lekgwathi. I am 25 years old. My A! Training Year is 2015 (Inland node). I am passionate about Rural and Youth Development.

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Limpopo Province, Groblersdal in a Village called Sterkfontein, currently based in Tsakane, in (East Rand) Johannesburg.

What projects have you been involved in?

I’m involved in many projects. I will name those we started which are: Youth Moving Forward, Kick a Ball for Rural Communities, Share What You Know with Youth, PadAGirl and From a Girl to a Women.

And I’m also working as Service Engineer and Social Entrepreneur owner of Innovation Switch

Your village dream: How did the “Dig for Dignity” project start?

It is difficult to have access to water sources because we are far away, besides that the price to build as well is expensive, so we normally use wheel barrows to collect water from the river which is 3 to 5 kilometers from our houses.

We have to collect water twice daily and kids they doing that after school every day and it makes them feel tired they don’t even have time to do some activities and it also affect their homework’s , I’m so upset and pained by our water situation. For decades no one cared enough about Sterkfontein community to provide us with clean drink water we even drink with animals.

I was walking in my community and seeing people pushing wheel barrows, while I was walking I meet 10 year old boy pushing 3*20 liters of water from the river and I realize the water was not clean I started asking him questions. Like what is this water for? Answer: Drinking. How far did you get water? He just pointed somewhere in the bush!!!

Where and when was this idea conceived?

Activate! Training space is where the idea was conceived in my module 3. I was with the Western Cape node and at the venue, I found that the water source was the mountain.

Why did you choose the name “Dig for Dignity”

The name “Dig for Dignity” share all desires of our differences putting our common human identity above all else, Dignity has the potential to change the community, but only if people like me help to spread the message.  We are born invaluable, priceless and irreplaceable. When our identity is accepted and we feel included, we are granted a sense of freedom and independence and a life filled with hope and possibility.

What do you plan on doing (give us insight on the projects)?

The plan for this project is to build boreholes in the community, it is a desire and mission to make clean drinking water available to homes, schools and sports facilities in Sterkfontein. Areas in the village lack clean running water and my hope is that I will have to make it possible. “It is heart-breaking experience to see people walking for miles and miles to fetch water only to get dirty water that is not good for human consumption”. Therefore it is my goal to at least drill boreholes at several central location in the village, it is my hope that I will be able to drill 10 water boreholes by July 2016, which will translate to 20 boreholes by December 2016.

Did Activate! Have any form of contribution into the development of the idea (Training resources, the network, etc.)?

Activate provided me with tools and project plan (Project plan Template, Project plan tools, objects cards, etc.) and looking forward to get more support from the network on this project.

How can people in and out of network support you?

Together we can help to bring clean water to a village in Sterkfontein. My heart fills with such happiness when I imagine the faces of these wonderful families as they see clean water for the first time.

Together we can help give love to a community of people that can sometimes be overlooked in our Municipality. By helping donate your project management skills, with sponsorships, drilling companies, proposals and sharing to your networks as well, you are also an integral part of the journey. I can’t wait to begin this project with you!

If you wish to contribute to David’s village dream, contact him on: Tel: 061 459 8955

Cell: 082 366 8007

E-mail: litc@live.co.za

 

Now that #FeesHaveFallen, what now?

The Rise of the 21st Century African Vanguard in South Africa

In an almost Fanonian fashion, we as the 21st century post-colonial, post-Apartheid youth of South Africa have discovered our mission and are working on fulfilling it. With some of us being born after the end of the South African political struggle, hence being labelled ‘born-frees’, we were born with the burden of securing the economic emancipation of our people.

With our country only 21 years into its democracy, and a majority of our economy still in hands of the minority, the struggle for the economic emancipation of the African people in South Africa has proven to be harder than what we thought it would be. It is during these trying times that quality leadership and quality leaders are needed; leaders who will be able to navigate the young and still stabilizing political atmosphere in the country and still be able to find innovative ways to open up the economy for African people. Leaders, in the form of writers, thinkers, activists, entrepreneurs, politicians and civil servants, who will lead the way in new developments in the country through their work and ideas.

The 21st century African vanguards in South Africa need to rise up and show themselves. While some people have been taught to think that vanguards need to be people who are in the academic field or some sort of professionals, this narrative has been proven to not be true. Vanguards are people who are willing to put the needs of the people beyond theirs. They are people who are willing to work hard to see an idea flourish and their people prosper. They are people who, to borrow the words of a great fallen vanguard, are “willing to die for an idea that will live rather than live for one that will die.”

With the country gradually becoming younger and more technological, our mission for the economic emancipation of the African people in South Africa needs to see the rise of African vanguards who are younger and more technocratic. Newer and more innovative solutions are needed to solve some, if not most, of the problems that we come across around the country and the continent. Only younger and more energetic vanguards will be able to lead the way if we want to see these solutions come to light.

The rise of the 21st century African vanguards in South Africa needs to see all the old and overstayed leaders in the country make way for younger and more energetic ones. In order to fulfil our mission to economically emancipate our people, we are going to need a more effective way for young people to influence both the policy development and the decision making processes in both our country and our continent. The rise of the 21st century African vanguard in South Africa will never have any impact if the makeup of the leadership of both the country the continent is hell bent on never changing.

Our country has a huge and untapped resource – in the form of young African minds – that is lying dormant and is finding other non-productive and illegal ways to release its potential. To solve the increasing rate of unemployment among the African youth in South Africa we are going to need the solutions that the young African vanguards in the country have. If not given a chance to be utilized and listened to, the intellectual prowess that these young African vanguards possess will be lost to countries in the West, as witnessed in the past, and we will be left with an intellectual vacuum. The rise of the 21st century African vanguard in South Africa will always be delayed if we continue to try to solve the new problems we face using the same old people. It’s time for a change, it’s time for the 21st century African vanguard to rise!


We should be loyal to the movement for justice

On Thursday, a cloudless Johannesburg day, students and supporters gathered at the gates of Wits to protest the impending increase in fees.  At the gate next to the Origins Centre, we sang, with passion, asiyifuni iagenda yamacapitalist (We don’t want the capitalists’ agenda).  My voice was hoarse from the singing and chanting, but I was proud to be a Witsie, and gratified to be gathered with other young people, taking action on the issues that profoundly affect our lives.

Then a cloud appeared.  Not in the sky.  Rather it was in the form of a coup from within the protest.

A group of African National Congress (ANC) comrades, in their party t-shirts driving BMWs and AUDIs, arrived to deliver pizzas and drinks for student protesters. Many students screamed and chanted, “Welcome, fellow comrades!”

With my hoarse voice, I questioned those around me, “We just sang that we don’t want capitalists’ agenda but we’re accepting charity from the party of corruption and clowns? The party that gave South Africa its neoliberal agenda; the party of BMWs and Audis?” Nobody bothered listening to me.  In the midst of the huge crowd, I felt very alone.

But I was not alone.  When some of the male comrades were given fruit, pizza and cold drinks, to honour them for toyitoying in the streets, my two friends joined me in calling out to them, asking what kind of a leader eats alone. Most of the students were sitting on the pavement, while these gentlemen feasted in the centre of the road. My friend suggested we take photos and tweet them.  As soon as we started taking pictures, everyone began shouting at them. One member of the organising team said, “No one is bigger than the collective of students.  It’s true when they say real revolutionists of the struggle are never mentioned.  We have Mandela and Sobukwe here.”

In response to the taunts, one of the eaters said, “I will hit him, I can’t be told by a first year.”

Obviously, my argument is not about food. It is about how we struggle together.  Are we creating a new nation where everyone’s voice and contribution is honoured? Or are we falling into the old patterns of giving our power away to personalities who care more about their own fame and fortune than the wellbeing of those they claim to represent?

Who are these men?  What made them believe they had the right to co-opt the event?  Why did they think they were more important than the rest of us?  Why did so many cheer them, and some of the women serve them, as if they were heroes.

They are, in fact, leaders in some of the campus political parties. That was the justification for calling them the “leaders” of the protest. Which leads me to ask, “Who owns Wits’ student movement?”

South Africa needs radical structural changes.  ‘Radical’ means going to the root.  We need changes at the very roots of our economic structures.  Radical change will not be achieved by the same methods that brought us to where we are today.  We need to take back our power.  Not just from the rich whites or the mega-corporations, but also from the institutions that have failed us, while serving themselves.  

In a group of young, intelligent and informed students, why does our work need political party leaders? What is their function?  Is it to confuse and sell out the rest of the students?   Do we need them to interpret for the university administration what students want? I am sorry, but everyone in South Africa knows what students want.  Do we need party leaders – male party leaders – to lend legitimacy to our protest?  Are not the students themselves the best people to express their needs and demands?

We know that the process of decolonisation will not be convenient for some of us. We also need to beware of the traps of colonialism while fighting it. We must beware of the traps that give our enemies reasons to de-legitimise our struggle and activism.

As the protest continued, emerging protest leaders from student political parties arrived on campus to speak. Their voices are welcome, like the voices of other students.  The parties are not, however, welcome to take over or claim a protest they did not launch.

A planning team, organised the protest over the course of meetings – which none of the pizza prize leaders attended. Whether we have a party affiliation or not, we must all support the struggles that resonate with our values. What is important, though, is that in the process we do not abandon the initial vision. On Thursday, unfortunately, we had a show by popstars who are more passionate about and obsessed with media and attention than the struggle of other black students.  

As we talk about decolonisation, we should take a step back and re-evaluate our role and commitment to this change we are talking about. Radical change must include redefining “leadership”. Do we need leaders (in the old sense) in the process of revolution? Aren’t we all supposed to be leaders of our collective struggle? I think leaders are there to convenience the enemy. We are in these problems today because leaders have been misled, tricked, and fooled. We have allowed certain people believe that they know everything, and that everything depends upon them.   No one should be bigger than the voice of the collective.

I laughed every time I heard Ukhozi FM playing a sound bite saying, kukhona abalandela ibhodwe eliconsayo. It’s true. We can’t afford to have people who use the struggle to build their political careers and fight their personal battles with the vice chancellor. No one is bigger than the collective voice of students. No one should be! Asiyeke ukulandela ibhodwe eliconsayo maAfrika amahle.

Sinikiwe Mqadi is part of the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers’ Network and a Mandela Rhodes Scholar, currently undertaking her honours in Bachelor Arts (Journalism and Media Studies) at the University of the Witwatersrand. She joined the protest against fees increase to achieve, in the short run, affordable student fees, and in the end, a vibrant movement where we understand our real collective power and use it wisely. Sinikiwe grew up in rural KwaZulu-Natal.  She has been exceptionally fortunate to have opportunities to pursue formal education– opportunities that are rare for folks from a poor, largely illiterate, community. She is committed to making use of her gifts to benefit her own community, and similar communities, which still comprise a large portion of South Africa.

Look out for Activator Nqaba Mpofu’s Press Release on his campaign, which urges the Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, to release the no-fees report.


Breast Cancer Month: Know your body, Share the knowledge

October is breast cancer awareness month, which seeks to educate women and girls as much as possible on breast cancer prevention, management and control.

This is due to the fact that breast cancer is the one of the most common types of cancer to affect women of all races and ethnicities in South Africa. According to the 2009 National Cancer Registry, 1 in 33 women in SA have a lifetime risk of breast cancer. This means that precautions in this regard need to be taken seriously as some breast cancer cells can be removed when detected early.

Breast Cancer screenings can be quite expensive. Women are therefore encouraged to do a monthly breast self-examination (BSE) during their ovulation period (day 14 of their menstrual cycle). This is a free examination that can be done at home by oneself or with a partner.

According to CANSA, a cancer support organization, women need to do one of the following breast self-examinations at least once a month.

  1. In the mirror

• In front of a mirror, check for any changes in the normal look and feel of your breasts, such as dimpling, size difference or nipple discharge. Inspect four ways: arms at sides; arms overhead; firmly pressing hands on hips and bending forward

2.  Lying down

• Lie on your back with a pillow under your right shoulder, and your right hand under your head. With the four fingers of your left hand make small circular motions, follow an up and down pattern over the entire breast area, under the arms and up to the shoulder bone, pressing firmly. Repeat using right hand on left breast

3. While in the bath

• With your right arm raised, check your right breast with a soapy left hand and fingers flat using the method described under step 2.

 

Repeat on the other side.

Discuss any changes or uncertainties with your medical practitioner. Some (but not all) of the symptoms to look out for include a lump in the breast or armpit sizes vary from a marble to a tennis ball, increase in size of one breast, swelling of glands in armpit, lowering of one breast or nipple and dry skin (eczema) of the nipple.

There are other symptoms which you may experience. It is important for one to query that at their local clinic or with a medical expert.

The BSE information can be accessed on ACTIVATE! Going Beyond health Connection Hive as a PDF document that you can print and share with friends and family.

“It is health that is real wealth, not pieces of gold and silver.”- Mahatma Gandhi.


I love South Africa

Some people call it the country without a name, just a direction and location. It is the country furthest South on the African continent. It used to be known for its evil, they called it Apartheid; but I call it #APartHate?. It is a part of hate, directed at others. A system of hate, one hating another, did they realise that hating us is the same as hating themselves?

I love South Africa. It is the only place in Africa, where Africans can’t act African. Taught in another tongue; where your hair has to be explained, sometimes imported; where your name is not good enough; you need a Christian name! When we call him Rolihlahla, they call him Nelson, when we call him Bantu, they call him Steve, when we call him Mpilo, and they call him Desmond.

I love South Africa; it is part of the game, they come from the east to build us clinics, bridges and speed trains. All we have to do is stand and sing praise; otherwise you will get stuck in the deep plains. You travel 100 kilometres just to make enough to visit Checkers, you pay for the checkers, but you don’t own Checkers; is it a game of chess? Picking and paying just to get points! What’s the point?

I love South Africa because we shed light, maybe it is too heavy; that’s why it’s called load shedding. Is it to keep the melanin in the dark? Hell, they will need a flash in the night; just to share a picture! I love South Africa, they stopped to get water; they ended up with the land and some cattle. When they reached their spices; they came back for some gold. They built us some nice cities; now they think we owe them.

The land of milk and honey has become the land of bees and ants. South Africa is a land of opportunity, because with the right attitude; you can milk for money. We want the land, they want their Rand, so who do we trust? The one who came first or the one who came back? Funny how they took Mandela to Cape Town; and Biko to Pretoria: The royal to the empire and the commoner to the settler? The result was mind blowing: A Loyal Mandela and A dead Biko. I love South Africa because it does what no other can: Successful at Failing and Celebrating it!

 

We called it a rainbow, but the rain clouds are gathering and the sun is long gone. Grab your umbrella because it is about to rain on us; opportunity; equality and wealth. Grab the land and work it, No one deserves an explanation. You are you and you are free, I love South Africa and so should you!

Some people call it the country without a name, just a direction and location. It is the country furthest 
South on the African continent. It used to be known for its evil, they called it Apartheid; but I call it . It 
is a part of hate, directed at others. A system of hate, one hating another, did they realise that hating 
us is the same as hating themselves?
I love South Africa. It is the only place in Africa, where Africans can’t act African. Taught in another 
tongue; where your hair has to be explained, sometimes imported; where your name is not good 
enough; you need a Christian name! When we call him Rolihlahla, they call him Nelson, when we 
call him Bantu, they call him Steve, when we call him Mpilo, and they call him Desmond.
I love South Africa; it is part of the game, they come from the east to build us clinics, bridges and 
speed trains. All we have to do is stand and sing praise; otherwise you will get stuck in the deep 
plains. You travel 100 kilometres just to make enough to visit Checkers, you pay for the checkers, 
but you don’t own Checkers; is it a game of chess? Picking and paying just to get points! What’s the 
point?
I love South Africa because we shed light, maybe it is too heavy; that’s why it’s called load shedding. 
Is it to keep the melanin in the dark? Hell, they will need a flash in the night; just to share a picture! I 
love South Africa, they stopped to get water; they ended up with the land and some cattle. When 
they reached their spices; they came back for some gold. They built us some nice cities; now they 
think we owe them.
The land of milk and honey has become the land of bees and ants. South Africa is a land of 
opportunity, because with the right attitude; you can milk for money. We want the land, they want 
their Rand, so who do we trust? The one who came first or the one who came back? Funny how 
they took Mandela to Cape Town; and Biko to Pretoria: The royal to the empire and the commoner 
to the settler? The result was mind blowing: A Loyal Mandela and A dead Biko. I love South Africa 
because it does what no other can: Successful at Failing and Celebrating it!
We called it a rainbow, but the rain clouds are gathering and the sun is long gone. Grab your 
umbrella because it is about to rain on us; opportunity; equality and wealth. Grab the land and work 
it, No one deserves an explanation. You are you and you are free, I love South Africa and so should 
you!

Maths campaign: a boost for township learners

Ramadimetja Makgeru and nine other young people are implementing a Mathematics project to change attitudes and perceptions of learners towards Mathematics.

The I love Maths- Make it count campaign started after a workshop organised by the Students Development and Leadership Unit at the University of the Witwatersrand.

“The moment they asked us to identify the challenge in our society, I thought of Maths. There are many reasons why learners fail Maths, yet it is a very important subject and many university courses require Maths,” Ramadimetja explained.

Mathematics is among the most failed subjects in South Africa. Earlier this year, the Department of Basic Education said the number of Grade 12 learners who passed Mathematics had dropped from 59.1% in 2013 to 53.5%, with only 3.2% learners achieved distinctions.

The I love Maths- Make it count campaign focuses on ‘under-privileged’ schools, especially those in townships, with the hope that learners will love Maths and make good subject choices when they get to Grade 10.

“I have met a girl who was doing matric and wanted to be an Accountant but not doing Maths, and that hurt me because even if she passed well, there was no way she would be able to study accounting at university the following year,” Ramadimetja said.

Ramadimetja and her colleagues then decided to focus on Grade 8 learners to help them make good subject choices and do Maths without being limited by social constraints. “We only focus on Grade 8 because that is where it all starts and learners are still young and haven’t made subject choices,” she said.

She argued that some learners have every reason not to like Maths because they don’t have resources, “I come from a small village in Limpopo and it was so painful that I didn’t have a calculator in matric. It was so easy for me to give up because I didn’t have resources.”

During August,the team visited Umqhele High School in Thembisa and donated 20 calculators. They received their donation from the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) and Wits students. Ramadimetja said they would love to donate more stationery but funding is a challenge, “It’s very unfortunate that if you want to do something you also need to rely on things like funding.”  

Eight of the team members matriculated at Umqhele in the previous years. One of the teachers, Makgabo Pitja said she is happy to see some of her former learners coming back to help, “Maths is not difficult and there is nothing wrong with the curriculum, but I don’t know how we have come to the point where our attitudes and perceptions towards it are so negative. I think we will see the impact if this project continues.”

A Wits Geography honours student, Mafule Moswane who was invited as a guest speaker told learners about the importance of Mathematics, in his speech he said “Sometimes you will have to do what you have to do in order to do what you want to do.”

The team also played mental mathematics games. Some of the learners told him that they have lost hope in Maths and they don’t like it because they struggle to understand it.

However, Mafule said the project is not a waste of time, “It is important to share strategies that learners can use learn Mathematics easily and tell them about the things that you can do with Maths- Maths is one of those subjects that you can use in anything.”  

Ramadimetja aspires to be an activator in order to ‘grow as a leader and a change driver’. She is currently involved in different projects.  She works for a project where they go to township schools to tutor, motivate and help learners with resources to apply for universities and bursaries. She also uplifts young women both economically and emotionally by equipping them with skills to help them.

“I know Activate! – through Activators, So, I posted on their Facebook group about our campaign and Lenina responded, asking me about the event details. I’m going to an interview with them in September,” she said.

“Community service has always been in me. I don’t really know why and how I started to love helping others, but it’s always been something I love doing. I remember when I was still in primary school I would go to an orphanage called Mohau Centre to help the younger kids with homework, play with them and feed the disabled ones.”

Ramadimetja is a third year Bachelor of Accounting Science student at Wits. She also wants to be psychologist and a social worker. ‘I have a passion for community service and would love to assist me in helping others realize their passions and uplift themselves,’ she said.