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


Live A Life That Matters

Ready or not, someday it will all come to an end. There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.

All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else. Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.

It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed. Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear. So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire. The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.

It won’t matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived, at the end.

It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant. Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; Not what you got, but what you gave.

What will matter is not your success, but your significance.

What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence, but your character.

What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.

What will matter is not your memories,   but the memories that live in those who loved you.

What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what. 

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident. It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.



Sir Victor Supulugane Seshoka describes himself as an Activator, motivational and inspirational speaker, leader, preacher, social entrepreneur, conference speaker and a life coach. He is a 2013 Activator and the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kgalalelo Education Foundation (KEF), Director of Supulugane Trading Investments, Public Relations Officer of Vulodzwi TV and Founding President of Youth With A Vision.

He has authored three books to date: See the Promise and Pay the Price, From Dreams to Reality, Worship From a Pure heart and Overcoming Failure.

Victor is motivated by community and youth development and aspires to help young people achieve their dreams.


Tel: 072 308 5852 / 078 494 8845.


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





The app, called ACTIVATE! Groups, is the latest platform created to support Activators to connect with each other in their efforts to drive positive change and build a better South Africa. In addition to bringing Activators together in one mobile space, the application also provides an events calendar for Activators to share and publicise their events, campaigns and experiences amongst each other.

One the reasons for creating the application was to assist Activators in different cities and provinces to connect with each other, and for those in the same region to continue conversations and networking after meetings and Exchange dialogues.

The app was launched during July 2015 and Activators have already shown a positive reaction to the new platform. Nomtika Mjwana, a 2015 Activator, posted on Facebook, “I am very impressed with ACTIVATE! comms…and I will say this nide nidikwe [until you’re tired] shame”.

One major feature of the app is that, after downloading the application, Activators are automatically pre-loaded to relevant groups related to their training year, nodal group, intake, area, city and interests, giving them instant access to Activators in their immediate vicinity and connections they made during the ACTIVATE! training programme. They are then free to join groups in other regions and interest areas via unique group codes published below.

Activators are also free to create their own groups, which is great for young people who are working together and planning projects remotely.

The application is only available for Activators who are registered on the ACTIVATE! Junction, a closed online community platform created to provide resources, opportunities and networking for members of the ACTIVATE! Network.


To join a group follow the below steps:

– On the Groups page screen select the 3 stripes on the top left hand side

– Select Join Group

– Enter the group code and click Join Group

Main Group (all Activators): PGKXX

Year Groups:

2012 Activators: 3577N

2013 Activators: XDPGL

2014 Activators: JVKPL

2015 Activators: ZTTJ3


Focus Areas:

Agriculture: J3T5N

Business Development: 36GSA

Child Rights: WJK4C

Community Development: ZHZNF

Creative Arts: 6EF7X

Crime Prevention: PQVQ4

Economic Development: W4K57

Education and Training: UHHPQ


Gender: FNMEN

Human Rights: WXS4M

Lobbying and Advocacy: 8PHNJ

Media and IT: F879E

Rural Development: BBQ5H

Social Work: JKWUC

Sports: VXD9Q

Youth Development: T7JK2


Provincial Capitals:

Bhisho (EC): NCQNB

Bloemfontein (FS): NKYU3

Cape Town (WC): ZBYQB

Johannesburg (GP): 9BJU4

Kimberley (NC): GCPFU

Mafikeng (NW): 6SAC4

Nelspruit (MP): U5EKG

Pietermaritzburg (KZN): RXEZ5

Polokwane (LP): 23792



Eastern Cape: LF6DD

Free State: Q74WX

Gauteng: BW6HV

KwaZulu-Natal: JWDG5

Limpopo: FX37A

Mpumalanga: ZF2ZZ

North West: MB2VJ

Northern Cape: MB2VJ

Western Cape: GT56X 

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


Rustenburg Exchange

The Rustenburg Exchange kicked on Saturday, 25 July 2015, and looked at the theme ‘How to build and sustain socioeconomic development culture amongst young people’. This topic was chosen to explore how we as young people can be actively involved as far as development is concerned, said Activator Gabaiphiwe Makgaka, who organised the event. “We especially wanted to look at youth in Rustenburg, who are surrounded by mines and farms,” she said.

Are they socioeconomically active with regard to all the socioeconomic activities that are happening around them? This was the question posed to the audience by Bongani Uhuri KaHlatswayo, a 2012 Activate and political science student at the University of Free State and the facilitator for the Exchange. Making reference to Mandela Day and the 67 minutes campaign, some of the dialogue in answer to the question included:

“67 minutes later we are still poor, we are still hungry, we are still uneducated, still in debt, still academically and financially excluded, still squashed together in townships like sardines, there is still teenage pregnancy, still crime, still rape, still domestic violence, still chains on the 13% of land still governed by the ANC, we are still domestic workers, still gardeners, still failing because you are battling with the language before engaging with the work, still an employee on a farm, still getting 68% when you deserve an A because you are black, still laughing at each other, still praying, still kicked out of  land you’ve occupied unlawfully,  still earning R2000 as a monthly salary, still can’t afford a crèche, still at a corner typing CVs, still Namanje and we are still black.

One of the seven panelists speaking at the event, Mr Eric Mokua, a social justice activist from Luka Village in Rustenburg, quoted the philosopher Noam Chomsky when he said, “Laws are made for people with resources”. He went on to say that South Africa is a capitalist country and that our country is bankrupt because of Aparheid.

Miss Koketso Mafoko from the traditional youth council in the Royal Bafokeng said that her interests lie in education and that the nation is poor because they lack education. “Young people don’t read enough, we must make sure that we educate ourselves,” she added.

Panelist Antoinette Prophy, the founder of Afro Fusion said that we should stick to the core of our Africans and act on our responsibility to look after our fellow youth. “Get on with it every day, wherever you are, just get on with it,” she added. “We talk a lot and dialogue a lot, we must change the face of capitalism,” she said.

Activator and Panelist, Tshepang Mokgatle, success coach and author of Success Is My Only Option said that the answer lies in all the conversations we have daily. “Money is not important because people who have money have lots of problems,” he added. He also posed the question, “How often do you take the time to develop yourself?”

After a short break halfway through, guests broke into discussion groups to unpack three different topics: Education and Training; Economics, Business and Civil Society and Community Development.

On the subject of Education and Training, Samuel Nong, the President of Royal Bafokeng said that entrepreneurship should be a subject in school so we can stop producing employees.

The group discussions lasted for 30 minutes with guests deeply engaging in these issues, with lots of ideas and solutions emerging that could be implemented in the community of Luka.

Another guest panelist, 2012 Activator and Community Developer Mokgadi Matlakala who came all theway from Limpopo and spoke after the group discussions said that it is important to talk about relevant issues that affect the community. “Each community is different and they are not facing the same problem,” she added.

The response from guests to the Exchange was very positive. Tshepo Taukobong, a 25-year old from Luka, said that attending the event was a blessing. “My mind is now broad, I have learned a lot from this Exchange and I am ready to make a difference in the lives of other young people,” he said. Matseleng Moseneke, a 2015 Activator attending her first Exchange, said that that she cannot wait to host her own Exchange after graduating from the ACTIVATE! training programme. “I am taking with me a quote from one of the panelists: ‘nothing for us without us’.

All in all, the event was a huge success. Parting words from Bongani before the dialogue closed was, “Read, read and read. And if you can’t read, start writing”.

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

LIFE AFTER MATRIC: Life’s a journey…

2008 marks the year I completed my matric. The year was full of confusion and excitement as anticipated for most matriculants. Personally I felt like a failure. I had not done as well as I anticipated, and I really wasn’t sure what marks to expect. I did send out my applications, as early as from July. In January 2009, we were eager matriculants running to varsity institutions to submit our marks to secure our spots. But I was one of those who were rejected in all places, all because it was full. I thought I wanted to be a Biochemist, or a doctor. The rejection just gave me time off to think, a gap year that was not planned and was the hardest of my life.

Boredom was heavy on me, while listening to friends experiencing first year on social media. I enrolled for a short computer course which I didn’t enjoy but did learn a few things. I travelled a little, but still the emptiness inside, the desire to just go ahead with my studies ate me alive. I am a Christian and this means my Faith is in God. I pray, in good times or bad times, faith keeps me going but at this point that too was hard. Praying, believing. I started to believe every negative word ever spoken to me, I felt I had failed. Not just did I fail myself, but my family too. 

A year later, I’m enrolling at one of the best universities in the country, UCT, studying towards a BSc in Chemistry. I only spent three years at UCT, and though things were perfect, all I had to do was work hard to get my degree, I lost it. The passion, the desire, I hated what I studied. Somehow I felt dead inside. I know its only a few who can relate to this, much as I tried explaining to my parents, they did not get it. All they wanted was for me to hold on and finish. But it wasn’t gonna happen, not that way. I was not even giving 50% into my studies. It wasn’t me. I did my research and really inquired, sought help, and decided to start over. One of the hardest decisions I had to make. And I had a team around me that supported me through the change. 

6years later, in just a couple of months, I will complete my first degree, in Industrial Sociology. I took long, but this too is not a unique story. Many share the same fate. While some finish their degrees well in the prescribed years, others take a while due to a lot of factors that contribute to their progress. For me I needed to find myself, to know who I want to be, and find a way to link my passion with my degree. I’m so glad I persevered through this journey. My degree is not just a paper that marks my academic record, to me it marks the journey, since 2010 when admitted at UCT, to this day as I complete it via the University of Pretoria.

LAM was born through this journey. Education is a huge elephant that cannot be left to the teachers and the government alone. We are here to offer support in the best way we know how. Everyone has a different tale, but regardless we all need someone to offer us help when we need it.

Original Story from Kefiloe Bopape’s Blog Page.

Planting A Seed For Mandela Day

Project Playground (PPG), in collaboration with Abalimi Bezekhaya and ACTIVATE! Leadership held a fun and informative vegetable planting volunteer day for young members of the PPG organization, as well as the community members. The event took place at the PPG Gugulethu branch, NY5 in Gugulethu on Saturday, July 18, 2015, nationally recognized as Nelson Mandela Day.

This green event was organized and spearheaded by Activator Phila Nkuzo, who is a center manager at the PPG Gugulethu branch. The project, besides serving the purpose of fulfilling Tata Madiba’s dream of a charitable society, was also part of Phila’s volunteer day home task as per the ACTIVATE! Module 1 training requirements. Phila worked with other Activators who are part of her intake, which include Linda Mbuthini, Marguerite van Nierek, Nathan Laubscher as well as the ACTIVATE! Operations Manager, Althea Farmer and 2014 Activator Connar Louw.

Phila incorporated the gardening skill into the purpose of project playground holistically, which is to create a fun and vibrant space for kids to play. When asked why gardening specifically, Phila explained that it was to share her passion for nature with the kids. “I realized there is apathy and stigma attached to gardening. People think it is an activity for old people who have nothing else to do. I wanted to change that by working with the group of kids that I work with here, and teach them at this tender age how to take care of something fragile and vulnerable. That way they will grow in it and understand the value of taking good care of life. They will also look after the vegetables they are planting, so they will get to experience the birth of something they started. It will be fulfilling and encouraging to them”. She further stated that the vegetables that were being planted will be used to serve members of the PPG organization, which are mainly children and youth between the ages of four to 18 years of age.

The programme for the day included a fun and colourful session of spray-painting the bags in which the planting was to take place. “We are renting this space from the church, so we do not have land, so Abalimi Basekhaya assisted us with setting up for gardening, such as getting bags, tires and soil to still be able to do our gardening. They then held a workshop for us to learn more about gardening”, said Nkuzo. The spray painting session was facilitate by Mpumi, who is an art director at the PPG center, and the planting session was facilitated by both Phila and Sis’Zoleka, who is the under-eight facilitator. Phila also gave a presentation enlightening the audience about PPG and the vegetable planting project they were working on. The children were excited and keen to gain the experience. The vegetables that were planted are: cabbages, lettuce, broccoli, spring onion and cauliflower.

Over 35 community members, children and adults, took part in this event and had amazing things to say about the experience. Viwe Mashalaba, who is a Peer Educator at the HIV/AIDS Unit, said “If honouring Tata means planting a seed for the future, then I would do it for the rest of my life. This is what he would have wanted. To see something that has a future being planted by people with a future. It’s amazing!” Eleven-year-old Sibahle said that she will take whatever she learnt at the event and apply it at home because she wants to eat her own food.

Phila Nkuzo is a passionate Activator who feels strongly about early childhood development and is a die-hard nature lover. “I love to be and to see people interacting with nature in whatever way,” she said. She also supports causes such as mental health and arts therapy, as she believes in fun activities as “spiritual” healing factors.
Phila said her message of encouragement goes to children at a very early age and their parents. She encourages them to be passionate and love the environment, and not feel like they are being forced to love their planet. PPG shows them a video on environmental awareness and the long-term goal of the organization is to start a swap shop, where community members will trade recyclable items such as can, plastics, etc. for money. “That way they will realize the value of recycling”, said Nkuzo.
Phila also encourages youth around Gugulethu to volunteer and be part of Project Playground. They will assist with facilitating the various activities for children at the center.

The Water Crisis

The effects of climate change are posing a serious threat to the livelihood of many South Africans, KwaZulu-Natal is one of the most worst-hit provinces by the water crisis facing the country.

eThekwini and the iLembe municipalities’ major source of water, Hazelmere Dam, is expected to run dry within the next two months if no rain falls. This potential threat has forced the government to ration water by introducing a quota system in some areas.

According to some media reports, the drought has already collectively cost KZN farmers 366 248 in large stock units (mostly cattle), about 8000 jobs, and significant sugar cane and vegetable yield losses.

In a bid to minimise the worst drought damage in 23 years, eThekwini Municipality issued water cut notifications.

“The on-going drought has led the Municipality to increase restrictions in water supply and also implement strict restrictions, especially in the Northern areas. Critical and strategic facilities that offer essential services such as hospitals, clinics, airports and fire stations will not experience any water disruption,” said eThekwini Municipality Mayor, James Nxumalo, in a statement. “Corporate Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC, Nomsa Dube-Ncube last week met with all KZN Mayors in Durban to discuss the extent and severity of drought in the Province. She warned that if water wastage continues, cities and industries won’t be able to produce and that its time for everyone to acknowledge that water cannot be supplied or available endlessly.”

Many young people across the country have taken it upon themselves to avert the situation. One of those is an Eastern Cape-based Activator, environmentalist and founder of water saving educational project ‘Mzansi Genius’, Pearl Sekwati. Her organisation educates children between the ages of six and 18 and gives a hands on experience focusing on waste water treatment plants, science museums, etc. Sekwati’s project aims to instil water saving principles and values to toddlers and teenagers.

She believes that this crisis need a collaborative response from everyone in the country. “I am sure as a collective we can avert the water crisis by being more conscious about our water usage. Most of the people in the corporate sector are learned and knowledgeable. Most of them already know that our country is going through a water crisis. They can do justice to those who are at the bottom of the food chain, meaning the communities that don’t have water purification facilities, by not discharging their effluent or at least treat the effluent. Most of all to educate, raise water-use awareness and transfer the knowledge and skills to the community,” she said.

Durban-based environmentalist and Activator, Nolwazi Renee Ntshingila, said people need to be aware that wasting water is as scary as digging our own graves. She shared some basic water saving tips. “Doing simple things such as to avoid buying recreational water toys, having leak-free homes, not flushing the toilet unnecessarily and not letting water run while brushing your teeth, are just some of the things that seem small but could make a huge difference.” She said.

2013 Activator and water researcher expert, Dr Nosiphiwe Ngqwala, is working on a public water awareness drive whose main aim is to mobilise people to take care of the environment because the chances are it will be too late by the time we want to do something. Dr Ngqwala suggested a few tips that might minimalize the problem. She said, “First of all, people need to be vigilant about how they use their water. Government needs to have long-term plans or measures rather than treat the symptoms. They also need to revisit the Water Service Act because there are still some people with no access to water. As much as the corporate sector is focusing on the growth of the economy, they need to be sensitive to their surroundings. Civic societies must continue to promote awareness and access to information.”

 Local social entrepreneur and founder of Water, Hygiene, Convenience (WHC), Paseka Lesolang, who invented an innovative water control device said that the reason behind the invention is that 70% of water is currently lost through toilet leaks.

 Installations of Lesolang’s product, Leak Less Valve, can save approximately 12.6 billion litres per year [70 000 units x 500L x 30 days x 12 months]. These savings will equate to R30 million, which can be reinvested into the project to make it sustainable. Lesolang said that the short-term goal is to install at least 70 000 devices into already constructed low cost houses.

 “WHC encourages the execution of ideal Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) and/or CSI projects through the above Midterm Goal. WHC is very keen to partner with corporate entities that are keen to save water, create jobs, develop the community and enterprises through their CSI’s as per their Corporate Social Responsibility. Civil society needs to understand that water conservation needs to be a collective effort for all our sake, it is not a matter of saving money or a lifestyle choice, it is a priority and a necessity for our sustainability.” he said.

Find more water saving tips at WHC’s website:

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


Unpacking the State of South African youth

Agape Youth Movement – an organisation created and led by Activators – hosted a dialogue on Saturday, 27 June 2015, as part of the Tshwane Youth Leadership Talk programme. Youth leaders from Tshwane high schools and government officials gathered to discuss the “The State of Youth in South Africa”.  Activators Abuti Rams, President of Agape Youth Movement, and Tshepang Pule, Deputy President, also launched their new book, Beyond Inspiration, which aims to help young people to realise their full potential.

Buti Manamela, Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, delivered the keynote address.  Manamela urged young people to believe in the power they have as citizens, and as “young stars of the country”. “The challenge for our generation is to shed our shoulders of the heavy load of heroes and cult-personalities. We have to believe in the power that we have, and realise that they (heroes and government) are dependent on this power. They are feeding off it like parasites, only to use it at our expense,” he said.

Young people should not allow government to make excuses for failure, Manamela added. “People participate in elections and elect governments and pay their taxes mainly because we expect government to take certain responsibilities with the powers, laws and resources they have in their control. But the government, given the nature of our transition, may not be able to do things without the support of our people, and their application of the power that they have in their midst. If we want transformation in the spaces that we occupy, we need to take a lead.”  

City of Tshwane Municipality got a taste of what young people think, as the young leaders participating in the event gave voice to their thoughts, unpacking the “The State of Youth in South Africa.”

Tebogo Sebolai, Board Member for the City of Tshwane in the Youth Development Unit, said, “Our problem, as young people, is that we like to blame so much. Opportunities are flying everywhere but young people are not looking. There is free Wi-Fi everywhere, provided by the City of Tshwane, but what do young people choose to do?  Do they download Twitter and Facebook, or do they use the internet to look for opportunities?”

Manamela called on the youth of Tshwane to understand that leadership is about taking responsibility.  He urged them to exercise good leadership by taking responsibility, to ensure that things go right in their own lives, in their communities, in their organisations, and in South Africa. “Bad leadership is the abdication of responsibility. We outsource this responsibility to superheroes and institutions. We sit back and watch from the sidelines. It is time that we, as youth leaders, take responsibility. It is time that we truly exercise people’s power in our communities and organisations. Young people must be at the forefront of pushing for positive social change. And to do this requires youth leadership.”

In the discussion period, participants expressed frustration with a system they say is failing young people. For example, they described visiting the Municipality many times, seeking help, only to be told, every time, that no one was available. Members of the Representative Council of Learners criticized the lack of support for the talents of young people in their townships.

Thabang Bhebe, Chairperson of Agape Youth Movement, said that in order to develop a whole generation of young South Africans, we must first look at how individuals can be developed. “Do young people fail the system or are they failed by the system?” he asked the audience. “The problem with South Africa is that it is trying to take a system that has worked outside, without understanding that an African child is different,” Bhebe said.

Zukiswa Ncunyana, Strategic Executive Director of Research and Innovation for the City of Tshwane, exuneplained why it was important for her to attend.  She is the leader of the department of innovation for the city, and innovation comes from young people. “I should direct our youth on where to go to with their ideas. Young people are frustrated and they are looking at us to have all the answers – but we also don’t have the answers. There should be more platforms for young people to vent their frustrations, and for us to give them guidance. Yes government does have a role to play, but young people should also know their responsibility.”

Activators Rams and Pule, authors of Beyond Inspiration, ended the day by sharing insights from their newly published book. It covers a variety of subjects sequentially crafted to help young leaders to live significant lives and discover their purpose and vision. Rams said their book takes young people through the journey of success. “Young people always get motivated, but you find that two days later the inspiration is gone, regardless of how good it was. So, I decided that it was important to write a book to share my thoughts on how young people can cultivate the culture of success.” Rams said their book will help youth with self-leadership, “It helps young people to set goals for themselves by realising their vision and purpose.”

Pule said Beyond Inspiration is important because it takes young people through the process of finding a solution without complaining. He said that the youth of South Africa need to move from complaining to asking, ‘What is my role as a young person?’ Pule believes that “Complaining and making excuses is not helping us. We need to figure out problems and find solutions.  We need to know how to keep ourselves motivated and leading.”

Professor Rocky Ralebipi-Simela, Chief Executive Officer of the National Library of South Africa (NLSA), congratulated Rams and Pule for their hard work. She encouraged young people to write books of their own, and to seek help from the NLSA for publishing. “It is very important to write because it preserves knowledge.  When we die one day, we want the next generation to know what we did and thought,” she said.

Read more about Activator Abuti Rams in our latest newspaper, The Activator:

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

The Power of the ACTIVATE! Network

One of the highlight events that closed off youth month with a bang was the 6th Intentional Nzulu Seminar, spearheaded by Activator, Thembinkosi Matika, and organised by Activator, Mboneleli Gqirhana. The seminar was held at the Khayelitsha Site C Blue Hall, Cape Town which was also launched as the new ACTIVATE! Workstation on Saturday, June 27, 2015. The main aim of the event was “to trigger a sense of moral hygiene”, according to Matika. This means to enlighten and empower young people to see financial freedom and personal development in a business and adopt an action-oriented perspective, with an emphasis on emancipating the young black mind from seeing themselves as employees all the time. 

The speakers were young males who had all gone through their share of challenges and experienced a positive turning point in their lives. The four key speakers were business and personal development coaches who are partners within the Thembinkosi Matika and Associates’ mentorship and coaching business. During his speech, Mr. Zuko Vanyaza touched on an important aspect of priority. He stated that the problem with young people is that the entertainment culture is much more important than the education culture. “There is something they are not teaching us in schools, and that is how to prioritise self-awareness and its importance,” he said. He then encouraged audience to make rational decisions as “we create our own fate by how we think and act now”.  Another powerful message he shared with the audience was the assessment of one’s “financial drawer”. He cautioned against expecting to living on an income in this day and age of a changing work environment. 

Mr. Siyavuya “Chief” Mlungu spoke of the SWOTAL analysis (the usual SWOT with Assets and Liabilities added). He said that is important for one to understand what initiatives young people want to do, the value they would add to that project and to be in an environment that would develop one in that regard. “Your environment should be congruent to what you want. I am a good speaker and I do that for a living – that is my asset. So if I am about to open my mouth, then someone must pay,” he said. The third speaker was Mr. Thembinkosi Qhole of Whizz ICT Centre. He moved the audience as he shared his brave journey to people development as an employment activist. “We are a product of our society, but it is in us to shape a better future for ourselves.” His main message was that the best way to organise is to solve problems.  He said, “If you are organising something, you are closing gaps that cause problems. I did that when I was advocating for employment. I had to show them that we were hungry so I led a group of unemployed men into different grocery stores and we just walked in, peacefully, took bread and milk and ate. We needed attention so we did that so they could see that hunger is a matter of urgency.”

Finally, Activator, Thembinkosi Matika shared a portion of his personal development coaching session with the audience, emphasising the power of the mind and how positively conditioning your subconscious is important for habit development. He used numerous examples and encouraged everyone to make good use of the 96% subconscious influence in order to impact the 4% of the conscious. “Tell yourself that you already are what you want to be, and work to be better. Do not allow the TV, media and advertising to make decisions for you when you have 3600 thoughts that you process every day. Put those thoughts to good use and make something of yourself.”

During lunch, the ACTIVATE! workstation was introduced by training facilitators Ashley Roman and Lezerine Mashaba, and viewed by Activators who attended the seminar, which included Senzo Hlope, Nikki Alexandra, Vuyokazi Malafu, Amanda Mamase and Dean Jates. An official launch is still to take place, where all Activators from around the area will be invited to view and make use of the workstation.The most powerful aspect of the entire event, however, was the collaboration amongst Activators in making the event a success. Thembinkosi was head of the project, Mboneleli acted as the organiser, Nomtika as the Programme Director and Dean Jates as the sound engineer. This shows that making good use of the ACTIVATE! Network can transform most social ills for the better. 

Nikki said, “it was the most innovative teachings from inspiring men from our very own township communities. I would have loved to have seen women representatives as well, but I guess if I want to see that happening I should initiate it myself.” Senzo Hlophe added, “We need more platforms like the ones the Nzulu seminars have created for young township entrepreneurs. It is when people are well informed that they become giraffes and eat at the top of the tree.” Activators are encouraged to trust each other and collaborate in driving change. This seminar has proved in so many ways that many heads are better than one.

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

Ekurhuleni Activators moving entrepreneurship forward

Four Activators were recognised and presented with certificates for their entrepreneurial efforts by the Ekurhuleni Mayor Clr Mondli Gungubele on 11 June 2015. Activators Xolane Ngobozana, Mzwandile Msimanga, Palesa Madumo and Nathacia Olivier received awards under the category of ‘Youth Owned Businesses on the Move’, during a gala dinner which concluded the fourth annual Ekurhuleni Job Summit held at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Boksburg. 

The Job Summit concluded a two-day Career Expo which aimed to address the high rate of unemployment throughout the Ekurhuleni Metro. Metro spokesman, Themba Gadebe, believes the Career Expo and Job Summit brings together “civil society, business leaders and academics…in mapping a way forward on how to address the challenges of unemployment and low skill levels that the youth of Ekurhuleni are faced with”. In 2014, the Career Expo and Job Summit also afforded 10 000 youth the opportunity to submit their CVs to the youth unemployment database through which 335 unemployed youth were later placed in internship programmes. 

According to a Youth Enterprise Strategy report from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), despite the youth constituting 41.2% percent of the South African population, only around 6% of the South African youth are self-employed or are involved in entrepreneurial activities. With the youth unemployment rate in Ekurhuleni at an all-time high of 36.4%, it is imperative that the Metro recognises the efforts by young people to create entrepreneurship opportunities for themselves. ACTIVATE! spoke to the four Activators to find out more about why their businesses are on the move.

“In order to create a better tomorrow today, I had to create solutions not only for myself but for others as well and this how I started a social impact engineering agency, 4 MOOLA (Pty) Ltd,” says 29-year old Msimanga who works full time as the chief empowerment officer for YDIDi, an opportunity hub for the youth. It has been a long road for 4 Moola, transitioning from a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) which was started in 2008 to being an independent, registered organisation since December 2013. Two of 4 Moola’s initiatives, GoEazy and IfaLemvelo, have received numerous awards including reaching the Top 8 at the 2015 GIBS Ideas Festival. At 4 Moola “we aim to unlock the potential of South Africa by engineering innovative game-changing initiatives that have a sustainable and positive impact”. 

Benoni-bred Xolane Ngobozana, also known as the Young CEO, is the co-founder and manager of Viruz Empire Entertainment (VEE). Since starting out in 2000 as a dance crew performing throughout the East Rand, Viruz Empire Entertainment has grown into a company which provides marketing, event promotion support and development, managing of signed recording artists and presents workshops across Ekurhuleni. “We came up with the idea of reviving arts in our community and other surrounding areas next to our township and realised we needed to develop, build and provide children with the opportunity to engage with the world of arts. VEE is creating jobs for unemployed young people in our communities,” writes Ngobozana on At the 2013 SAFU Awards Ngobozana’s efforts received the Best Achiever award and this year, the art maestro has been shortlisted for the Best Leader of the Year Award at the South African Awards.

CEO and founder of the Young Empowering Phenomenal (YEP) Movement, Palesa Madumo, writes on Facebook that “the YEP movement is for the people by the YOUTH! Its purpose is to help and serve our community and develop positive young people striving for success”. The YEP movement took off in 2014 with various career and motivational talks in the Wattville community. After being interviewed on 103.6 eKFM, the YEP movement celebrated their official launch at the end of May this year. “My blood, sweat & tears did not go to waste… I was invited to a business dinner and little did I know it was Ekurhuleni unicipality Mayoral Awards and shockingly so I was the second candidate to be called for an award! Youth Empowering Phenomenal Movement, we are going somewhere,” Madumo writes.

“I started Criar Investments because I saw a gap within my community and noticed how small businesses lacked financial assistance, marketing, corporate identity and support,” 26-year old entrepreneur Nathacia Olivier recently told Biz4Africa. As an integrated marketing entity, we fill in the gap for start-ups and SMMEs established and based in the East Rand. Criar Investments was officially registered in July 2012 and “we offer printing, brand activation, corporate branding, signage and design, graphic design and promotional services”. Olivier also shared her secret to entrepreneurial success with potential entrepreneurs on Biz4Africa, “never give-up no matter what circumstance you may be facing; work hard with integrity and always look after your clients, form a strong relationship with them and always be honest”. 

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

Additional resource for more information on entrepreneurship: The new wave of entrepreneurship

The good news is that they were not stabbed

After getting mugged with my girlfriend two weeks ago, I caught the train again to Bellville on Wednesday. My carriage was completely empty and on a line that I was totally unfamiliar with. The experience was absolutely terrifying as I just sat there with the full knowledge that some skollies could target me and I would be forced to go through that oppression and humiliation again. Every stop was agony and I even got lost inside the very dodgy and corrupt Bellville train station. Even at my meeting in Bellville I was still shaken up and a little disoriented from the fear emotion that was pulsing through my veins. After the meeting, Mkhuseli and myself sat down to discuss and we then caught a taxi back to Cape Town.

The Trains were broken and late, and Cape Town station was a chaos at rush hour. I didn’t mind, I had high spirit taking over my body and mind. I felt a sense of accomplishment but more so my spirit was uplifted and I could see myself and reality so much more clear and loving than usual. However, and here is my reflection: Fear is a monster, it is deep, it eats at our flesh and consumes our souls. It holds us and binds our hands and feet, it silences us and it blinds us. It is very real and it is also felt as real both in the body and in the mind. To face fear is an unbearable task, to actively choose to step into the dark is so hard that we can feel that we will die or burst or collapse with anxiety.

To be afraid with purpose is to face ones fears. You have to live that experience. It cannot be an intellectual or abstract experience, it must be lived, you must dig in your heals, feel your stomach churn and stare that huge demon right in the eye and take a step. You must not crack under the pressure and you must have faith. You must believe that you are worthy of fulfilling your divine destiny, that your fears are not larger than your spirit, that you will come out of that tunnel and that God’s light will shine on you, if you allow it. What I ask is that we all reflect on our lives and goals. To take into consideration our soft sides that we protect so very much to our own detriment. We can make our lives into lives that others can look at and learn from, we can lead this nation of diverse, traumatized and talented peoples and we can do it fearlessly and with grace.

Yours in Inspiration, faith, love and understanding.

Peter Wright is Pedro Wright on Facebook.

Join ACTIVATE! Youth Network for 2016

Youth leadership network, ACTIVATE! is calling socially-motivated young leaders who want to play a role in developing South Africa,  to to apply and be part of the 2016  group of Activators.

In addition to becoming a member of a 1000-strong national network of dynamic community leaders, Activators kickstart their membership by experiencing a part-time, residential 3-module training programme  includes a comprehensive personal development curriculum that runs part-time over a year which aims to hone and optimise the leadership skills of the participants.

According to Communications Manager, Nelisa Ngqulana, the ACTIVATE! network which was launched in 2012, is made up of young leaders between the ages of 20-30 who are actively involved and interested in being part of a narrative that promotes a positive youth identity, innovation for the public good and influencing the public discourse.

Activators come from different sectors, socio-economic backgrounds and life experiences but are joined together by their common purpose to effect positive change, says Ngqulana. 

“The ideal candidate is someone with the courage and drive to engineer positive change in their communities – a natural entrepreneur with strong leadership skills – who through their involvement with ACTIVATE! will benefit from our progressive coaching modules as well as the access offered to a national network of like-minded peers and resources to further their vision,” she explains.

The ACTIVATE! training programme systematically support entrepreneurial capacity with a research-based experimental training, national mobilisation and an on-going support programmes that focuses on the following five broad pillars:

– Developing a strong sense of self;

-Generating social capital and connections;

– Stimulating innovative thinking and the ability to lead public innovation;

– Building the capacity to navigate socio-political systems effectively;

– Using their connections with other Activators towards projects that will have a tangible national impact.

“A single person with a passionate vision can change a community’s circumstances with the right intervention if they have personal insight and the necessary skills,” says Chris Meintjies, CEO of ACTIVATE! 

 “By creating connections between common purpose-driven individuals, we allow their impact to increase exponentially.”“After going through the ACTIVATE! Training programme, I am empowered to do what I do better,” says Activator sincee 2013 Ashraf Kenny.

If you are a young, vibrant leader who is looking for an opportunity to drive real change in South Africa by connecting with other extraordinary young people across the country, then apply to be part of the ACTIVATE! network by going to .

Applications close on 30 October 2015.