#WeAreAfrica Stop Xenophobia

 

HUNDREDS of foreigners have been left homeless and in fear for their lives following a recent spate of xenophobic attacks in the greater Durban area, the past few weeks. Reports about what started the wave of attacks in Isipingo on 30 March are mixed, with some assigning blame to King Goodwill Zwelithini who announced in a speech that foreigners should be deported, while other reports indicate a South African labour strike turned violent against foreigners. 

The initial spark quickly ignited into a furnace of violence and hatred as sporadic attacks broke out in areas including uMlazi, KwaMashu, Chatsworth, Greenwood Park and Inanda with African foreigners, many of them shop owners, the victims of violence and looting. In an effort to prompt action against the attacks a march was organised last Wednesday, with the intention of walking from King Dinizulu Park to City Hall where a memorandum would be handed to the mayor. However, the city, fearing further attacks on the protesters, revoked the permit to march at the last minute. Chaos erupted as police fired tear gas and water canons to disperse the crowd with some continuing the march to city hall in defiance.

That same day, the Diakonia Council of Churches also held a prayer vigil at City Hall, praying for peace and harmony. Those displaced by the attacks and threats of further violence have been moved to refugee camps set up in a number of areas including Chatsworth, uMlazi and Isipingo. On hearing about the plight of the families who have lost everything, Activator and co-founder of the African Community Development Initiative, Kanyisa Booi, investigated how she could help. “I saw a horrific picture on Facebook of a person in Durban, burning, and I knew I had to do something.”

Booi contacted close friend, Diaku Dianzenza, Chairman of the Africa Solidarity Network (ASONET), about what she could do. ASONET, which falls under the Democracy Development Programme (DDP), has been working closely with the victims. Dianzenza explained that one of their members was a victim of the attacks and so they have been very involved in on-the-ground assistance. “We have been working with people from the Chatsworth and Greenwood Park camps, finding out what is needed and approaching people for assistance. The biggest need now is for blankets, mattresses and tents as some people are having to sleep without cover,” he said.

After Booi made contact with ASONET, she got in touch with ACTIVATE! – a network of young leaders people who drive positive change across the country and to which Booi belongs – and mobilised a collection for foodstuff, cosmetics, nappies and clothes for the victims. Booi, who is currently also involved in community development in the Pinetown area, feels that opening conversation on the issue is the only way to resolve it. “I’m lobbying to get a discussion going on radio. We need to provide a platform for people to discuss what’s going on.” She said that, after visiting the Isipingo refugee camp last Tuesday, she was deeply moved to help.
“There is just such an air of sadness. Men are sitting around and you can sense they feel they should be elsewhere. The children know what’s going on and don’t want to be there.” Although the city has provided shelter and medical care, Booi is working to get trauma counselling to deal with the underlying emotional suffering.

Fellow Activator, Nokukhanya Zulu, said she has been working with Kanyisa, rallying support on social media. On visiting the Isipingo camp, Zulu chatted to the families to find out what was needed. “There is such an unsettled feeling in the camp. What affected me was the realisation that all these people had lives, they had work, they had things to do. Now they are so unsure. There is a brokenness.” ASONET’S Dianzenza praised ACTIVATE!’s involvement in victim support, saying the positive participation of all stakeholders is the only hope for a “peaceful and durable” solution.

ACTIVATE! also works closely with fellow community-driven organisation, the DDP. Executive Director of the DDP, Dr Rama Naidu, said they had hosted a meeting with the leaders of seven African countries on the weekend. “They have formed a committee which will be able to instruct us as to exactly what is needed.” He said the DDP has set up a fund to ensure those displaced are kept warm and safe. The fund is also being used to transport people back to their home countries, if they so wish, as many of them are unwilling to stay. “Some of these people have been in South Africa for 10 or 15 years, and now they just don’t feel safe.”
Dr Naidu said that, tragically, several of those in the camps had to flee their homes without taking passports or any form of identity documents and they are worried they’ll be viewed as illegal immigrants.

“There is a feeling that reaction by the KwaZulu-Natal government and police has been slow and that there is no serious willingness to help their plight. “We are trying to assess exactly what is needed and are organising donations of food and clothes. Many of the people left with literally the clothes on their back so the need is great.”

To get involved or make a donation to the victims of Xenophobia at the Isipingo safety camp, please contact Kanyisa Booi on 061 601 7734 or kanyisa@localhost.

Driving Change In Government

Despite growing up with various challenges, Activator Mokgadi Matlakala knew that if she wanted to achieve something in life, it would be up to her. Mokgadi, who joined ACTIVATE! in 2013, travelled a very dusty and difficult road that could have easily made her give up on life. She was raised by her grandparents after her mother went back to school, fell pregnant at 18-years old, which meant that she couldn’t attend varsity after passing matric.

Through these misfortunes, Mokgadi still found a reason to wake up every day and make something of her life.

The 26-year old from Botlokwa, south of Polokwane, was recently co-opted to be the National Chairperson of the Youth Development Forum within the Department of Home Affairs. The formation of the forum came after national parliament mandated all departments to establish platforms for user-friendly services towards youth.

Her journey with the Department of Home Affairs started as a front office clerk and, after hearing the need to establish youth desk at the Limpopo Department where she works, she quickly used the opportunity to pursue her ultimate passion.

“I realised the need to be involved in the establishment to represent young people across the province,” said Mokgadi, and further added that being a young person on the forum’s committee is an advantage because it helps in identifying challenges faced by fellow young people in the province. “We are the mouthpiece for young people of Limpopo province,” she said.

MATHOKS ARTS AND YOUTH DEVELOPMENT CENTRE

Mokgadi has always been passionate about youth development and has been heavily involved with local youth projects in Botlokwa. After realising that she could not further her post matric schooling, she kept active by getting involved in numerous local youth projects in Botlokwa.

As a poet and actress, she participated in a project in 2011 in which they took children off the street and kept them busy with activities that could cultivate their talents.

“The project was mainly to help local youngsters identify their talents through activities conducted at the centre,” said Mokgadi. “Not all of us are destined to be doctors and lawyers, so other talents may be relished and nurtured through these kinds of projects,” she added.

The most recognisable programme for young people in Botlokwa is ‘Botlokwa Career Day’, to which young people from Botlokwa and neighbouring villages are invited to be taught about the varieties of careers to be pursued. Mokgadi is the founding member of this career day, which is an annual event now in its fourth year. Due to work commitments, however, Mokgadi could not continue full time on the project, but still serves as an advisor for the organising committee of the career day.

In 2012, Mokgadi was also named Young community Builder of the Year at the Botlokwa Arts and Youth Award. “The award certified my capabilities within me of what I am and I have never looked back,” she said. She later became a member of the organising committee to give other young people the chance to showcase their community development capabilities.

In 2013, Mokgadi, along with a few energetic young people, formed another group called the Actioneers. The aim was similar to her previous projects – to keep young people away from street through activities at the centre. Activities rendered at the centre included Gumboots dance, Debate, Drama and Indigenous games.

COMMUNITY

Despite her busy schedule, Mokgadi always makes time for her family. She has recently been married traditionally to Gavin Mafa and has been blessed with two kids. “Family has always been a value close to my heart,” she stated, and further elaborated that maybe the love for her community hails from the ability to look out for the people closest to her.

Like many other neighbourhoods, Botlokwa faces challenges such as substance and alcohol abuse and teenage pregnancy, but the biggest challenge according to Mokgadi is ignorance. “Young people at Botlokwa need to learn from mistakes. It may even be mistakes from other people, but they need to be observant and take lessons from those mistakes,” she added.

Back at the Home Affairs department, Mokgadi and her colleagues in the youth forum have managed to form a relationship with the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA). “We have not yet set out the kind of relationship we will have with NYDA, but we know it will be a fruitful one and will benefit Limpopo youth,” she said.

“On top of everything that I have done, joining ACTIVATE! in 2013 was a stepping stone,” she added. “I have learnt to be a good leader with good presentation skills and articulation and to accept my history, because history helps one to find a path to the future.”

Mokgadi has recently enrolled for a Public Relations course with the University of South Africa after failing to do so numerous times previously. She also aspires to be public relations officer at the home affairs department.

Her motto is “TOMORROW IS MINE AND I AM TAKING IT TODAY”, which is what she is clearly doing.

 

Umuntu umuntu ngabantu (You Are Because We Are)

Activator, Sthembile Zondo (25), wakes up at 4:30am each day and chooses a busy Johannesburg street with people going to work and school just to tell them to believe in themselves. She has two boards written- “Enjoy Your Day” and “Believe in Yourself”. She stands in the middle of the street with her board, aiming to pass a message to fellow South Africans. “My aim is to encourage people to have a beautiful-productive day and erase the stigma that if you are standing on the street you are poor.” said S’thembile. 

She started this campaign in her township, Soweto, in March last year. She looked at the rate of poverty, unemployment, inequality, women abuse, etc. and saw the need to encourage people not to lose hope. “My mission is to make a world a better place by bringing the smile and hope to people.” she explained.

Being a part of the ACTIVATE! Network has reinforced the idea that that revolution does not come in one way.  Growing up in a township, where there is unity and solidarity taught Sthembile “Ubuntu”. The words of Nelson Mandela that “a fundamental concern for others in our individual space can go a long way in making the world a better place,” are always in her mind.

 

 

Lighting up peoples’ day is very important to Sthembile. She believes that how people start their day determines how they do their job when they get to work or school. “I am doing this to make people smile and to uplift their day,” she said.

Her dream for South Africa is that all people support and encourage each other in their various endeavours. She acknowledges that driving change is not an easy task, and still believes that in order to build democracy, everyone should play their role. “If we want the world to be a better place, we need to collaborate and support one another- no one has done it alone.”    

“Some people think I was given a form of punishment to go and stand on the streets, this shows how much we have accepted the fact that we do not care about each other.” Sthembile believes that it is her responsibility as a change driver to challenge anything considered as a normal (but not) for the betterment of the society.

While her project has gotten very positive responses – especially from commuters who see her sign, Sthembile does not always receive positive responses. . Some believe that she is wasting her time and seeking unnecessary attention. “Going against the norm is not easy, people always look at you like you are crazy, but I will not stop until the message reaches everyone in the world.”

So far, she has been to various streets in Gauteng, including Pretoria, Johannesburg Park Station, Braamfontein and Vereeniging. People who support her campaign are using the hashtag #EnjoyYourDay on social networks to show their support. Some people wave and blow kisses to her as they pass her standing in the middle of the road.

Sthembile’s initiative has also garnered some media attention.  Earlier this year, she was interviewed by Soweto TV and Shift on SABC 1. Her story has also been published on the United States Embassy website. Sthembile always tells them one thing: “I want people to smile, and make the most out of their day.”

Sthembile would like to have other people across the country to join her campaign. To get involved with this campaign, it’s as easy as writing your positive message on a board, choosing a busy street and then displaying your message. You can use the hashtag #EnjoyYourDay on Twitter to contribute on social media.

Sthembile Zondo is the founder and managing director of Solutionaire Phase Pty Ltd. Her company organises events and promotes art. In collaboration with other companies, she has organised Poetry Slam at Cumba’s lounge and Mr & Miss Meadowlands.

Connect with Sthembile:

Email: Sthembilezondo2@gmail.com
Cell: 0719012773
Facebook: Sthembile Ahadi Zondo
Twitter: @d3171bec5e124df 

Embracing Human Rights

On 26 February 2015, a 21-year old woman from Cape Town was randomly pulled over by police and strip searched right down to her sanitary pad – she was menstruating at the time – in the backseat of her car in broad daylight. The police found no evidence of wrongdoing.  Earlier this month, it was revealed that certain areas in Worcester implemented an ‘access card system’ for job seekers, requiring them to carry green cards to confirm that they have no criminal record in order to seek employment. 

In a Parliamentary address on 10 March, President Jacob Zuma called for babies to be forcibly removed from teenage mothers until the teens have completed their schooling. I am not trying to paint a wholly negative picture here. We have had many wins for a country with a history steeped in human rights violations. The fact that I have no explicit memories of being barred from any areas – except perhaps adult conversations at parties – 20 years ago is testimony to how far we have come since the end of Apartheid. But 21 years into our democracy, it is worth noting that just because Apartheid is over, it does not mean 
that it is dead. Apartheid, like an evil villain who evaded capture and went into hiding, is still very much alive and flourishing under the radar. It hides in our communities, in our homes, speaking in hushed tones, hand signals, loaded stares and closed Facebook groups. 

Apartheid lurks in taboo subjects that nobody wants to talk about: school toilets and labourer’s wages. It breeds in township classrooms with no schoolbooks and underqualified teachers, and it festers inside of us when, like good little girls and boys and decent men and women, we look the other way, sit on our hands, keep our mouths closed and swallow the crumbs that we’re still told we should be grateful to have. And yet we act surprised when it catches us unaware in shopping malls, guesthouses, on deserted street corners early in the morning and on tertiary campuses amongst young people who are pegged to be our future leaders. 

Human Rights Day, 21 March, honours a day when people stood up to the Apartheid government. Originally named Sharpville Day, it is a day when thousands of people gathered in Sharpville on 21 March 1960 to protest against the Pass Laws, refusing to carry the dompas, an internal passport designed to limit the movements of black citizens. When police saw the crowd, they opened fire, killing 69 and injuring 180 protestors.  

On that day, the government massacred the people. Today, it is often said, the people are massacring each other.We are doing this by feeding the hidden villain in our midst: When we criticize inefficient policing but buy goods on street corners that we know were stolen from our neighbours. When we’re quick to call authorities to complain about noisy dogs but turn a deaf ear to the screams of a neighbour whose husband beats her. When we condemn trade unions but underpay staff because they are easily replaceable and willing to work for pittance. When we click our tongues – or Facebook Like buttons – at the human rights violations sprawled across the pages of our news platforms, enticing us to read about it while slowly desensitizing us into inertia.

I’m not saying that the former examples are not important. We should rally against all types of injustices. Inefficient policing and laws affecting our pets all contribute to the bigger picture that make up our human rights. But it would pay huge profits to remember that human rights are not subjective, even though it’s easy for us to fall into the trap of thinking it is. Often, we are only moved to act on or support a certain cause when we are personally affected by it. But the thing is, when we ignore and condone injustices done unto others, we are sending the same message that the Apartheid government tried to instill: that certain people and groups are not worthy of the same rights as us.  

This Human Rights Day, let us challenge ourselves as citizens of the human race to change that message. Let us look both inside and outside ourselves and see where we are unwittingly perpetuating the principles that Apartheid enforced. Let us look the past squarely in the face and embody the courage that our ancestors held when they stood up against authority and asserted their human rights in Sharpville. Those deaths formed part of the sequence of events that resulted in our current Bill of Rights. What are we willing to do to ensure that our next generation – our children – have access to an even greater version of equality and freedom?

Rhodes So White

“…It very clear that the name isn’t gonna change. Students came to Rhodes knowing its name so why did people chose to come here if there was such an issue. If students have an issue with the name, move. I think this so called Rhodessowhite is huge generalizations to alot of people on campus and to be open beginning to piss alot of people off… How can one say the benefits go to the whites. We are all at university together, therefore WE HAVE BOTH BEEN GIVEN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY TO SUCCEED.. So why not do what we came to do and focus on our academics? This has quite frankly been taken too far, creating an uncomfortable ‘feel’ around campus.”

This post, of course, although expressed with sincerity, is highly ironic. It is precisely because of attitudes such as this that the “uncomfortable” conversation has to be had about the whiteness of institutions. Alicia de Sousa is bothered because people are challenging her comfort at an institution specifically designed to cater to her needs and desires, and this is unpleasant to her. According to her, if you don’t like the institution built with public funds that caters to her and the 9% of the population that is like her, then you can go to any of the other institutions built exclusive to educate the (black) 80% of the population, none of which are ranked in the top 5 institutions in the country. Duh! Of course, the comments below the post (too many to count) shouting down poor Alicia and calling her names is not going to change her opinion on the matter. 

I shook my head at her comment, and despaired a little for all the well-intentioned Alicias of the world. Her words, in caps, “We have both been given equal opportunity to succeed,” reminded me of an argument I had with a good friend of mine, back in my first year at Rhodes University in 2005. She was white, and had said something all the lines of, “I don’t see why everyone makes such a big deal of apartheid. Here you are, and here I am, and that fact that we’re both here means we’re equal.” My jaw dropped in disbelief. I couldn’t believe someone could say something like that. Having been raised by struggle activist parents, I took it for granted that every South African was aware of the glaring inequality between white lives and black lives in our country. 

I could explain to her and others how my grandparents were forcefully removed to a township under Group Areas, or how, as coloureds, teaching was the only option for my parents to have a professional career, or how the odds were so stacked against the generations before me who lived through apartheid that my attending university at all is a testament to their hard work and determination that the next generation will be better off than the last. But that wouldn’t really be illustrative of my point. Because as hard as it was for my forebears, I am still much more “equal” to Alicia de Sousa and my first-year friend than many, and by “many” I mean upwards of half, of the student population at Rhodes University.

Coming from a middle-class home where I was raised to speak English, despite the fact that my parents’ mother tongue is Afrikaans, meant that the academic lingo required to write my essays was hardly a stretch for me. The fact that I came from a largely Western-cultured home meant that the food on the “Normal” menu option (as opposed to “African”, “Halaal”, “Fast food”, etc) wasn’t that far from what was considered “normal” food at home, nor did I struggle with a knife and fork. In addition, I am coloured, but I look mostly white, so my appearance was never an issue when I asked for customer service from the administrators, librarians, or academic staff. I never had to worry about owing the university money, as I knew my parents had all that sorted. Any money I made in my part-time jobs was for my own consumption, and I never had to send any back to family at home. My parents brought the first computer into our house when I was about 8 years old. I could operate Windows and MS Word, navigate the internet, and touch type by the time I was 15, thus researching and typing my university assignments was never an issue. I was raised to love reading, love libraries and books, and so knew how to use an index, knew the Dewey decimal system of book shelving, knew how to operate the software system that located where books are shelved. In addition, having been at a private girls high school on scholarship, I was used to navigating white spaces, used to changing my accent from the one I used at home in order to be accepted, used to being surrounded by people far more materially advantaged than I was and not feeling intimidated. 

Working for ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, with participants from all walks of life, my heart often breaks  for Lehlohonolo, who dreams of studying at UCT, Wits or Rhodes, but whose spoken English is 
heavily accented by his native tongue, whose written English is riddled with grammar, spelling and punctuation errors, and who struggles to find his way around a computer. Lehlohonolo is not stupid, indeed, he is innovative in his concepts, original in his contributions, and astute in his observations, and is eager to learn. But he will be graded as a failure by lecturers who won’t even bother to learn to pronounce his name. Without the advantages I had, and without supportive parents who understand the tertiary education system, the odds of him succeeding, regardless of how hard he works, are stacked so heavily against him in this, our free South Africa. 

So yes, there is a need for the #RhodesSoWhite campaign. Whether the name is changed or not, to me, is not the point. The point is to make people uncomfortable by starting to question the way the institution operates, the multiple ways it excludes those who do not come from an extremely narrow set of conditions, the way we have normalised whiteness as the standard and hold everyone else to be judged by it. 

The greatest form of inequality is to treat unequal things equally, so why do we continue to provide the exact same (lack of) academic support to those from advantaged households and disadvantaged households and expect them to perform the same? It has been noted elsewhere that Rhodes offers pitifully few academic support programmes, and that the four-year extended programme hardly makes up for almost two decades of support middle-class students have received at home. It has been noted that seven out of 57 full-time professors are black at Rhodes, and so who is to be the academic role model to Lehlohonolo, to tell him that he, too, can achieve great heights in academia? Who is challenging whiteness at an academic level, objecting when a Politics course on The Politics of Africa is replaced by one on American Imperialism, as happened in my third year? 

The conversation around meaningful transformation in our academic institutions is long overdue, 
and it goes so much further than a statue or a name.

Nkhensani Ntsanwisi Frees A Soul

The Nkhensani Ntsanwisi Foundation, under the leadership of Activator Nkhensani Ntsanwisi, joined forces with Correctional Services Department in Limpopo Province in mid-February to help ex-offender, Oscar Rabothata. This was part of a campaign centred around the rehabilitation of ex-offenders to be re-integrated into societies. 

“I decided to help Oscar because, when I first met him, I did not see a criminal in him. Instead, I saw this strong, humble spirit that wanted to better his life, his family and his community,” Ntswanisi said. “When I checked the motives of his arrest, I understood I wasn’t wrong and couldn’t blame him. I then used my ACTIVATE! network raise funds to help kickstart his journey back to a normal life.”

Rabothata was found guilty for dealing with explosives from 2011 and was sentenced to eight years in prison. He served 4 years of his sentence and was released on parole in 2015 due to good behaviour. During his incarceration, he wrote and passed his matric in prison and studied further to obtain a N3 qualification in Boilermaking.

Correctional Services Area Coordinator for Development, Shebo Maserumule, said that Correctional Service would assist all inmates who dared to dream. “To be a boy is a matter of birth, to be a man is a matter of choice. Rabothata has made the choice to be a man and he must live by example and teach the young ones that crime does not pay,” said Maserumule.

Rabothata was also very instrumental in the ‘BUT, ONE DAY’ School Campaigns in Polokwane and surrounding areas hosted by Vantshwa Va Xivono Youth Organisation and the Nkhensani Ntsanwisi Foundation. Because of his courage and willingness for a better life, Rabothata showed that it is possible to live a better life outside the prison walls.

Nkhensani Ntsanwisi Foundation presented him with a bursary for a six-month course worth R7000 from Avuxeni Computer Academy on his release from prison to give him a head start towards a better life.

“I consider myself lucky to have received the bursary to further my education,” said Rabothata. “I thank everyone who helped me to get this far, especially Nkhensani Ntsanwisi, who supported me, believed in me and encouraged me to work hard,” Rabothata said. 

If You Dont Talk To Your Children, Who Will?

The level of teenage pregnancy in the rural areas of Hakutama, Limpopo, seems to be on the rise, mainly because parents in rural areas don’t engage with their children about sexual activities and contraceptives. This becomes a huge dilemma as teenagers are forced to seek advice from their peers who, most of the time, have no idea about the effects and long term consequences of sexual activities. It ends up being a case of blind people leading each other to a hole. The sad reality is that in most municipalities, there are no stats to even document this.

One of the root causes of this communication barrier is culture and traditions in rural areas, particularly where fathers don’t engage with their children and where there’s an authority system that exists where everything is formal and children can’t speak directly [to adults].

Another big issue teenagers have continuously indicated is how, when they try to engage their parents in sex talks, parents automatically assume that the teenagers are having sex, which in most cases is not the truth.

“Nga Tshivenda vi vi thoho I laya thohe thethe, but we find in our society that parents tend to hold back on expressing and sharing their views about sex. There’s also a rise in issues where people grow up not knowing proper ways to express their sexual desires, particularly girls, who grow up with refined boundaries, so in essence this replicates from generation to generation.

This is something that erupted from the past, but the effects and boundaries it creates continues.

Teen clubs have become a platform to assist these young people because, as a literacy activist myself, I meet with these teenagers and listen to their concerns and views about sex but with an open mind.

There is also the issue that children born to teenagers have no idea as to what to do and are still trying to figure out who they are. The result is that the amount of attention given to nurture children’s capabilities and potential is very low because the parents who have these children mostly have no idea as to what their children’s needs are and, most of the time, the children grow up in settings where there’s literally no support, particularly towards their needs and their interests as individuals.

Section 28 of the Constitution outlines children’s rights, with one of the rights being that there needs to be proper care by parents, family members or someone else, or the child has to be taken away from the family.

What I want to highlight is what it means to properly take care of as a child. When a parent is still young and financially constrained, the child grows up with no exposure to so many important things that are vital to develop the child’s abilities.

This is why I find it absurd that there is even a policy under the Children’s Act that permits children who are 12-years old and above to have sex. The State/ Government actually makes it okay for them to have sex – can we realise the mindset being perpetuated here? Can we be surprised that we have such a high rate of teenage pregnancy? And we aware of the huge dependency that lies on government to continuously have to increase the amount of welfare grants to provide to these mothers and the mentality of poverty that this creates within these young parents?


#NYP2020: Our Future Now

In a country where youth make up an overwhelming (and growing) majority, it makes sense that there should be a plan for them. A plan that shows commitment from all areas of society: government, civil society and business. Most, importantly, it is essential that youth are empowered to feel that their future is literally within their hands and that they feel encouraged to participate meaningfully towards this.

The National Youth Policy is one such “plan”. It is a key tool and has great potential to contribute towards overcoming many of the challenges youth are currently facing. In addition, it can lay a good foundation for generations to come.

During January 2015, the Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Buti Manamela launched the draft of the National Youth Policy (2015 – 2020). In his invitation for comments, Manamela emphasised the importance of making sure that youth are an integral part of this process, “as architects for their own future”.

Policy priorities

The draft policy outlines the following areas as priority:

  • Economic participation – youth empowerment as the core of the economic transformation agenda

  • Education, skills and second chances

  • Health care and combating substance abuse

  • Nation building and social cohesion

  • Optimising youth machinery for effective delivery and responsiveness

Recommendations from youth

This kind of invitation for young change drivers, like members of the ACTIVATE! network, is gold. As many are already involved in starting, running or contributing to change in their immediate surroundings – whether it be in their community, province, nationally or globally.

Throughout the six weeks of consultations, Activators have either been gathering, facilitating or joining discussions around their thoughts on the draft policy and extending this through engagements with the Presidency on social media.

Any policy that aims to fast-track youth development needs to be radical in thinking. This is something that hasn’t come through in this draft – without a review on the success of the previous policy (2009 – 2014), it is difficult to get a good sense of what the draft is based on. Such a policy must embrace who youth are (from age, access, diversity of needs), understand the underlying realities many grapple with and explore mechanisms that are often overlooked to support their success.  In the ACTIVATE! network, for example, is understanding that many young people are already actively engaged and require resources and support to drive change effectively. Here the government and its ‘machinery’ could be a useful partner.

The National Youth Development Agency and the South African Youth Council are named as the two primary vehicles to guide the implementation process of the NYP, despite their track record of “non-performance and challenges”. This policy will require a far more robust machinery and it is essential that any strategy adopted as part of it, is cognitive of this. And that the necessary support and specific turnaround plan

Please click here to read our submission.

Way forward

Active participation during this process goes without saying, especially in the back of a State of Nation Address (SONA) that appears to be vague on how to exactly tackle ‘the youth challenge’. Youth must take the lead in influencing how the government can assist in addressing their issues.

It is expected that Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe will sign off on the policy at the end of March and an implementation plan will be presented to President Jacob Zuma. Then the real work will start to ensure that all that is “dreamed” in the policy is turned into reality.

 

5 Minutes With Danielle

DANIELLE PETERS

PROVINCE: Durban

MUNICIPAL DISTRICT: Pinetown

Activator since 2014

 

What’s your passion? 

Young children and trying to shift young people’s focus from only seeing what is happening around them to trying to see what is happening in our world.  

What change are you keen to drive?

More development of young people in communities, helping them find out “What is my path?” I notice a lot of young people generally just do things because they’ve been told or because their circumstances dictate that to them.    

How are you driving change?

I am part of a project called YMC Squared, which stands for Youth Mentors Collaboration for Change. We take young people out of their comfort zones into different parts of South Africa and Africa and make them more aware of the social ills happening in the world. We try to make them more socially conscious and development-minded.

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

ACTIVATE! has given me more focus and allowed me to see that there are other young people around me who – while we may not be passionate about the same things – we share the same passion. It’s exciting because it put me in an environment where there are like-minded people that I can talk to and share with and learn so much from, which has helped me a lot. ACTIVATE! has made me stronger and given me an extra reason to push for what I want, the change I want to see.  

How do you motivate yourself?

Prayer and my mother, knowing where she’s come from – she was orphaned at six-years old – and what she’s achieving in her life now as the Programme Director of Gold Peer Education, it makes me think “Okay, my situation is not really bad”. I see I have more to give. Another motivation is other activators around me, when I hear about the things they are doing, I think “Okay, if they can do it, I can do it too”. We [Activators] are constantly checking up with each other and that helps me.    

Final comment?

You don’t need a lot to make a big difference. Whatever you have in your hands, whatever tools you have right now is enough for you to impact somebody else’s life. The passion within you, the way you think and the people that surround you is more than enough to effect change. 

Nathacia Olivier’s Marketing Help For SMEs

Background Information

What is your name and age?

Nathacia Olivier, 26

Where in South Africa are you from?

I was born and raised in Ekurhuleni and I live in Benoni CBD

Tell us a bit more about your education and interests.

I matriculated in 2007 and studied Marketing Management in 2009-2010. Thereafter I become an intern at IDMASA (Interactive Direct Marketing Association of South Africa) for a year in 2011. In 2013 I completed an entrepreneurship programme by Dimension Data and in 2014 I completed another 6 months course with The Branson Centre.

Questions about your business

Describe your business. What do you do? Who do you cater for? What products/services do you supply?

Criar Investments is an integrated marketing entity that fills in the gap for start-ups and SMME’s established and based in the East Rand. The company was registered in mid July 2012.

We offer printing, brand activation/corporate branding, signage & design, graphic designing, and promotional services to our targeted market as well as cost-effective creative concepts that will popularise SME’s to their suited targeted market. The Coffee kiosk offers and caters large to small orders of eatable treats such as platters/muffins, hot/cold beverages to different organisations for functions/occasional/events.

We aim to grow, develop and enhance entrepreneurs through the four (4) departments that exist:

  1. Integrated Technology Solutions – This department assists with Customer Interactive Solutions, Microsoft Solutions, Accessories, Application Solutions, Data Centre Solutions and Converged Communications.
  2. Coffee Kiosk – The coffee kiosk is appealing with its modern African look and touch. Clients are able to relax in the warm environment created where they can eat, work and socialise, while others book the space/venue for private meetings under economic circumstances. We also serve platters for various occasions.
  3. The Traders Group – Is an initiative specifically designed to assist young people in business who are start-ups or those who already own small businesses which have been running for less than five (5) years seeking to grow their businesses without spending a cent yet see themselves successful and has two categories in which one can chose from.
  4. Marketing & Concept Innovation – We offer branding, designing, promotional services, managing of social media accounts, creative consulting and more to our customers in order to raise awareness by coming up with cost-effective concepts and tools to popularise them to the suited targeted market.

Why did you decide to start your own business?

I started the business because I saw a gap within my community and noticed how small businesses lacked financial assistance, marketing, corporate identity and support. The purpose of the company’s existence is to help SMMEs and other enterprises in order to create the change that needs to happen in their own existence as well as in shaping our country’s economy. We are moving away from traditional marketing and moving into contemporary modern marketing which is integrated with technology. Mostly we assist with positioning and coming-up with cost-effective cutting-edge concepts for SMMEs to expose them to the right target market, raise brand awareness and increase profit margins.

Tell us what experience you gained from a previous job or studies just before you started your business?

I was an intern at the IDMASA (Interactive Direct Marketing Association of South Africa in 2010 and thereafter at Aegis Global Call Centre as a Quality Assurer in 2012. I actually gained a lot of skills; especially customer experience, presentation skills, the important of sales and marketing and as well as how tackle challenges within the business field.

What is your SME’s current business situation?

At the moment the current business situation that I am facing revolves around financial challenges and market penetration.

What are your goals for your business for 2015?

Some of the goals that I have for my business are:

– To move to another city (JHB – Central) as a branch

  • Form partnerships with established companies and work on campaigns that effectively assist small businesses
  • Assist more small businesses and increase sales
  • Employee at least 3 more young people into the business
  • Have a real working relationship with corporate companies and government institutions

 Where would you like to see your business in 5 years?

Five years from now I would like to:

  • Establish a community life-style hub for socialization and entertainment with great coffee and bakery items.
  • Create an environment that won’t intimidate the novice entrepreneurs. Criar will position itself as an educational resource for individuals wishing to learn about the knowledge and benefits that the Internet has to offer.
  • Establish national annual tours through our initiative known as The Traders Group.

 What has owning your own business taught you? The hardest decision you ever had to make in your SME journey thus far?

Owning my own business has taught me to become an independent risk taker, it taught me how to deal with clients and the importance of implementation and quality delivery. The hardest decision that I ever had to make thus far is to compromise what matters to me most including my values.

What is your advice for other entrepreneurs?

The only advice I have to other entrepreneurs is to 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.

Does Biz4Afrika matter to you, and why?

Biz4Afrika does matter to me because it is has proven how technology can be an instrument of assistance to small/growing businesses. It is a space that allows like-minded entrepreneurs in one space, share, empower and support each other.

How did you first hear of the Biz4Afrika initiative?

I heard about Biz4Africa online a while ago when I was browsing the internet, after few months I was invited to an introduction session in Midrand with other young entrepreneurs.

Who inspires you?

The one person who inspired me long before I could even start my journey was my grandmother. Since her passing the one person who inspires me is Richard Branson.?

Article courtesy of Thinkroom via Biz4Afrika

Reviving Kensington/Factreton

A group of over 50 primary and high school learners gave up their Saturday on 07 February 2015 to attend an Each One, Reach One workshop at St John’s Primary School in Kensington hosted by Activators Keith Knoop and Cathy Achilles as part of their Youth Interpreter Magazine community profiling project.

The magazine is a bi-monthly publication in which Achilles and Knoop profile communities, featuring the area, the residents and inspiring stories from the neighbourhood. As part of the process, the team also identifies a need within the community and host an Each One, Reach One workshop to address the need. 

“For this issue, we had heard about the divide between Kensington and Factreton and used our programme to try to bring unity to the area,” said Achilles. 

To assist them with navigating and profiling the community, Achilles and Knoop usually partner with organisations in the area to take them around and assist them with identifying community members to interview. 

“In Kensington, we partnered with the organisation Revive #593 as we had met them before and were aware of their passion to unite the community,” said Achilles.

The event kicked off with learners being given magazines, paper, pens and glue to create past, present and future collages representing their lives and dreams for the future. After they had finished, Cathy Achilles shared her life story, detailing how she found out that her conception was a result of rape and the effect that this had on her life. The learners were given the message that each of them mattered and that they should work hard to create the future that they want.

The second exercise had learners lining up with their eye closed while listening to statements and questions facilitated by Knoop. The point of the exercise was to highlight that even though we feel alone, we often experience very similar situations. Questions such as ‘Do you know someone who is addicted to drugs’ and ‘Have you lost a father’ saw a high number of learners stepping forward to show that they have been affected by this.

“It was very touching to watch children coming forward who had been affected by these issues,’ said Zahier Davids, founder of Revive #593.

In addition to the above exercises, three local artists, Cheslyn Cupido and Sundro Naidoo who form the hip hop crew SunChez and singer Leeron Malgas, former Idols contestant who will be releasing an album later this year, performed and shared their stories of hope as encouragement for learners to pursue their dreams.

The day ended with a call for a united community by Shawn Peterson, resident of Kensington/Factreton and member of Revive #593. Peterson asked for the community to no longer be divided into Kensington and Factreton, but be known under one name, Windermere, which was the original name given to the area in the 1960s.

* This issue of Youth Interpreter has been selected as the official magazine for the Cape Town Carnival taking place on 14 March 2015. To purchase a copy or to advertise in the magazine, contact hello@youthinterpreter.co.za.

 

STATE OF THE NATION LACKS YOUTH FOCUS

Amidst the media frenzy – both social and mainstream – around the ruckus preceding the State Of The Nation Address, one positive aspect to emerge was the abundance of youth voices commenting on both the commotion and ensuing address by President Jacob Zuma.

In contrast, the youth were glaringly absent from the speech with a mere eight mentions in total, three of them buried in general fluffy PR statements and the latter referring to the ‘Employment Tax Incentive paying off’ and listing the amount of funds disbursed to micro enterprises by the NYDA last year.

According to Parliament’s website, the purpose of the State Of The Nation Address is to ‘assess our country’s domestic and foreign situation and outline what we should do so that we enhance our efforts to achieve a better life for all our people’.

That said, post SONA, there’s no definite information as to the state of the youth in South Africa who make up around 66% of the population.

The President himself repeatedly states that ‘…the youth are our future…’ and yet continuously fails to address the pertinent issues holding youth back from substantial growth and economic freedom.  

As a network of young people around the country, ACTIVATE! feels that while areas of concern affecting youth were raised by the President during SONA, there was no plan of action to address issues unique to the youth of South Africa.

For example, while the President highlighted that jobs grew by 203 000, he failed to address the fact that unemployment among youth is significantly higher than that of adults and that this growth coincided with an increase in discouraged work-seekers, ie: youth who are no longer looking for work.

Activator Hlayisani Ingreet from Durban expressed her frustration in a Facebook post: “Yesterday, I heard Mr Jacob Zuma talking about six million job opportunities for youth. He can say it but there’s no actions for what he [sic] saying.”

At face value, the State Of The Nation did not reflect the state of the youth in South Africa and lacked mechanisms to address specific youth issues. If the President truly believes that youth are the future, then perhaps it’s time he start engaging with us. 

Umzi Watsha

Bendizixelele ukuba andizukuyibukela Ingxelo Ngemeko Yelizwe (State of the Nation Address) ngokuba ndidiniwe kukuva into enye minyaka le. Ndithe xa ndicinga ngezisongelo ze EFF sokuyingxobha lendibano, ndagqiba ukuba andinantshisekelo yokubona loomasikizi. Kuthe kanti andibuzanga egqirheni! Umnxeba wam wesandla ukhale ukhalile ndibuzwa ukuba ndiyijongile na le meko inxubayo, nanku uMongameli welizwe ecelwa ukuba ahlale phantsi – uMongameli weEFF uMnu Malema kukhona afuna kuqwalaselwe ngokukhawuleza. Ndim lo, ndigxanya ndisiya kwamakhelwane ndifuna ukubona kaloku ukuba iyakuzala nkomo ni.

Ndifike kwamakhelwane kuxokozela ingathi kuxhelwa ihagu, ndacela ukwakhela umkhanyo nga le nto yenzeka ePalamente. Umbutho we EFF ucele ukwazi kuMongameli JG Zuma ukuba imali Umkhuseli Woluntu owathi wayisebenzisa ngokungemthetho uzakuyibhatala nini, ezakuyibhatala ngayiphina indlela. Isithethi sasePalamente sithe uMongameli akazanga kuzophendula mibuzo koko uzokothula ingxelo. Abafanga namthanyana abeminqwazi ebomvu besithi uMongameli makabhentsise ukuba uzimisele na ukuyibhatala lemali.
Tyhini bafazi! Yay’ivungama indlu; kwangubhentsu-bhentsu, naku kubizwa abokukhuselo ukuba bakhutshwe kulendlu inengxoxo. Kuyakrutha-kruthwana, kuyakhwazwana. Kuthi qatha engqondweni ukuba yeyona meko yelizwe ke ngokunyanisekileyo. Sesithethela phezulu nje siveza izimvo zethu, zona iintanda kudala zabakho kulendlu. Sekubuhlungwana ngokuba ezintanda zibonakala pha phezulu kungentsuku zatywala uphahla luzokuwa, idilike le ndlu kuthiwa nguMzantsi Africa.

Kulombhodamo oomama abaphethe indlu babhula besambeza nabo bezama ukubuyisela ucwangco. Kuthi tha ukuba le mali yasetyenziswayo, gabula Mkhuseli Woluntu, yayizizigidi ezimakhulu amabini anamashumi amahlanu. Ngokwezibalo zika Statistics South Africa elilizwe linabantu abazizigidi ezingamashumi amahlanu. OkaZuma ngewanika wonke ummi welizwe isigidi esinye, aphinde aqhubeke akhe ipomakazi lezigidi ezingamakhulu amabini. Cinga nje ukuba ungasenzani isigidi esinye?
Elizweni apho izigidigidi ezingamakhulu asixhenxe ziphelela kubuqhophololo, libe liphethwe ngabantu abazingomba isifuba ngokuthi bayilwela lenkululeko. Ndiyazibuza ukuba babelwela ukutya imali ngoluhlobo na. Ngoomama notata abanjani abangazikhathaziyo ngendlala egqubayo, ababukelayo ulutsha lumka nomoya. Le mikhuba ihlathuzelisa amanwele egilwa ziingwevu ilungiselela njani elilizwe ukuze ubeyimpumelelo Umboni ka 2030 yophuhliso lwelilizwe (Vision 2030)?
Andiyibukelanga ingxelo. Ndohlulekile kukumamela umntu omdala exoka. Abahle nabalwela ngokwenene sebalala ngoxolo.

Activation For The Long Run

It is the start of the year, and for many of us, the year starts off with a lot of energy carried over from the festive season. I, however, had a surprising wake-up call just before submitting this article. I received the sad news that my granny whom I loved very much had passed away and was already buried by the time I was informed of her passing.

The news shook me, but I pushed the news and feelings aside. I got back to the work that needed to be done, emails that needed to be read and sent, meetings that needed to be attended and deadlines that needed to be met.

It was only a few days later that I began feeling immense pressure and extremely overwhelmed. It felt as if I was surrounded by a dark cloud and I sank into a deep depression. I sought some medical help and eventually realised that I was actually grieving the loss of my granny, but had not given myself the time to mourn her loss.

It was at that moment that I realised that as an Activator who is always busy doing and planning so many things, I also need time for intentional self-care. I don’t know about you, but I think we often get so caught up in the busyness of our lives that we forget to take care of ourselves.

This is why it’s so important to take stock of our lives at the beginning of the year. As Activators who are trying to drive positive change, we are going to be confronted with multiple stressors and internal pressures throughout the year that may cause us to burn out.

Ayala Pines and Elliott Aronson, in an article called Career Burnout – Causes and Cures, published in The Free Press 1998, points out that we can experience burn out when we feel exhausted emotionally, physically and mentally after long-term involvement in situations that are emotionally demanding. When we burn out, it is as a result of a combination of many factors, such as the high expectations we place upon ourselves to perform and “do” all the time. Burnout can exhibit symptoms such as feeling helpless, disillusioned, negative attitudes towards our work (even the work we are passionate about), people and even life itself. We know that burnout has reached its breaking point when we cannot cope with the environment around us.

How does one overcome burnout? I think we need to learn when to say NO! It becomes very easy to take on more tasks than we can complete. This inability to set boundaries sets us up for stressful events and often affects our interpersonal relationships with loves ones, friends and colleagues, creating a knock-on effect as not having social support also contributes greatly to burnout among activists.

We all need someone to talk to or a group of people that can understand our frustrations and journey with us toward making healthy decisions. Internalising grief and pain, as I did, was partly a result of not opening up to someone about what I was feeling on the inside, which then led to anxiety and depression. These support systems form part of our emotional care, along with, for example, keeping a journal, going for counselling when we need to, meditating and performing relaxation techniques.

Self-care is of the utmost importance. Because we are all different and operate in diverse situations, there is no universal way to care for that will work for everyone. Common to all of us, however, would be taking care of our bodies. It is important that we eat right, get sufficient sleep, exercise and do regular medical check-ups, without neglecting fun and me-time. We should consider this time just as important as you take your work appointments and events. 

In conclusion, burnout is like an evil monster that creeps up on us slowly and, before you know it, you are not coping. As we start the year planning and working towards projects and events to transform our country and the world, let us not ‘activate’ ourselves to burn out, but rather ‘activate’ ourselves to drive change. Let us be fully conscious of ourselves in the process so that we can sustain our passion for the amazing work we are doing wherever we are. 

State Of The Nation

“There’s a poverty of ideas among young people.”

This is a statement President Jacob Zuma made to a hall full of youth at the Young Communists League Congress held at the University of the Western Cape during December 2014. While the context of his speech was on how the youth in attendance could advance the cause for socialism, it did strike a chord on how this perhaps neglects the many efforts being made by youth to address their immediate challenges and contribute to the positive growth of our country.

The ACTIVATE! network is a prime example of a group of young South Africans invested in using innovation and their energy to contributing meaningfully.

Ahead of the 2015 State of the Nation address in a couple of weeks, we canvassed the network for thoughts on what the President should take into consideration for his next address:

“Mr. President if the State of the Nation address was a true reflection of our living conditions, we would never even bother to disturb you. But we are forced to disturb you, Mr President because, we want to know whose state of the Nation address is it anyway that you Mr President and all those who came before you represent and reflect on? Mr President, we believe that it is high time that the State of the Nation address is told as it is, the issues of poverty, crime, no electricity, unemployed youths, corrupt black people, corrupt white people, companies that continues to see black people as nothing but working tools, service delivery that is of poor quality including the issue of the bucket systems that continue to entrench the legacy of apartheid must be made the national agenda.” – Themba Vryman

“I’m a Project Manager at an organisation called Mankweng Youth Development. We focus on promoting quality education by offering extra classes and run literacy programmes such as annual spelling. As a youth worker, I urge you to bolster facilities to access financial resources to support the work that we do. The process of funding through the Department of Social Development is often quite difficult to navigate.” – Bopape Jacob

“I come from Maboloka in Brits, North West. It’s heartbreaking to still see a big area like that without water and tarred roads – the most saddening is that no one seems to be interested in taking responsibility. As an active member of that community, my most immediate suggestion is to interrogate the budget for the area in order to come up with workable ideas.” – Tsholofelo Moalosi

“I’m an activist and a servant leader with various progressive structures globally. I come from GaMarishane in Limpopo. Mr. President, some of us have been categorised as conference goers, for being pro-active in our country’s developments, needing to influence the direction the country needs to take. We’ve crossed rivers, country lakes and oceans in pursuit of global wisdom, the elementary ingredient for global leadership, hence we’ve been granted nomenclatures for the strides we’ve made and continue to make. However, all these things mean very little if we, the South African youth, are not enabled the space to impart the knowledge we’ve gained from our experiences in South Africa and internationally. We have the resources (skills, talents, energy and limited time) needed for development and sincerely want to develop our country, if only you’d just enable us to drive the much needed change in communities.” – Koketso Marishane

“I’m part of the publishing company, Provoker Holdings. We exist to create employment opportunities for fellow youth. I would love to commend our Honourable President and his administration for the wonderful policies that seek to promote SMEs, and trying their best to provide a conducive environment where entrepreneurial businesses can thrive, flourish and increase sustainability chances. As a young entrepreneur and nation-builder I would love to witness these brilliant policies being used effectively to address challenges that small businesses face in their attempt to create secured jobs for themselves and others. These policies must also come with severe penalties for those that seek to stifle the growth of SMEs.

It is very poignant that the largest fraction of the supplier-expenditure still goes to large corporates, which no longer have the ability or capacity to create sustainable employment and increase the responsiveness of the economy positively. It has been reported that seven in 10 small businesses increased in revenue and size within two years of becoming part of the corporate supplier base. When small companies interact with large businesses these SMEs devise changes that improve their organisational structures, management practices, competitiveness, operations, can grow in revenue and profitability and consequently increase their propensity to create million of jobs.

I would be keen to see more focus on improving supplier-development, as well as supply chain activities being more favourable to small businesses(beyond policy) as they must be given priority as they are the life-blood of the economy and a panacea for a lot of social ills.” – Noxolo Mthethwa

Igniting Generation A!

The theme for this year’s event was the Imbawula, which, roughly defined, is a coal stove made out of a large tin with holes around the container. It is designed to keep burning for a long period of time. The Imbawula was chosen for it what it represents: energy, light, warmth, endurance and a space of gathering – which are characteristics embodied by the ACTIVATE! network.

Two Imbawulas burned bright on the YFC ports field on Friday night during the festival’s opening ceremony. In addition to kickstarting the Festival, more than 200 Activators who had finished their training in 2014 were awarded their certificates of completion and welcomed into the ACTIVATE! network.

The Festival programme commenced at 8am on Saturday morning with nine spaces hosting events concurrently throughout the venue. Each space was designed for Activators to engage with each other and participate in activities centered around challenges face by South African citizens and driving positive change.

A particular highlight was the screening of the documentary Miners Shot Down in the Movie Makers space followed by a group discussion with the director, Rehad Desai, during which Activators expressed their thoughts on the Marikana strike and the resulting proceedings.

Discussions were deep and profound with Desai calling for Activators to stand together against this atrocity by organising screenings of the film in their communities and taking part in the Marikana Campaign between February and March 2015.

While Activators voiced their opinions on this somber topic, across the way at the ACTIVATE! Marketplace, 100 young people raised their voices in celebration as local singing legend, Sibongile Khumalo took them through their musical paces for a performance scheduled for later that day. The mood was festive and the sound of Activators voices in unison was both beautiful and representative of one of ACTIVATE!’s core beliefs – “Together We Are Stronger”.

With these two very different yet meaningful activities happening parallel to each other, ACTIVATE! CEO Chris Meintjes reflected on how significant that moment was for him. “I realised that it’s absolutely fine to be serious on the one side and fun on the other, that’s what the network is about. Being able to hold those two spaces – head and heart – together, not in opposition or contradiction to each other,” Meintjes commented.

Throughout the rest of the venue, Activators kept busy learning, absorbing and connecting with each other and trying to participate in as many activities as possible.

Workshops ran throughout the day at the ACTIVATE! Headspace featuring topics such as Land Politics in SA, Storytelling and Writing and Drug and Substance Abuse. In the Ignition space, Activators discussed and debated the new Youth Draft Policy and ACTIVATE! Programme Director, Landy Wright, ran through an overview of the Community Development Course launched by ACTIVATE! this year.

Business and social entrepreneurship was celebrated at the Switch & Pitch space with 63 project posters on display fleshing out Activators’ ideas and projects for building a better South Africa. Activators could also sign up to take their ideas through a shortened version of the ACTIVATE! Switch process, an enterprise incubator designed to turn ideas into reality.

The ACTIVATE! Café was a huge hit offering materials and resources from organisations such as UNICEF and The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation with representatives from loveLife and enke on site to present the work that they do.

Activators were also encouraged to visit the Connection Hives space, a new addition to the ACTIVATE! resource bank where Activators can upload and download useful resources and connect with other youth who are running similar projects.

The Festival concluded at 8pm with a drumming session where Activators joined together to create one rhythm, signifying the connection between different leaders joining together to create one network.

Reviews of the festival were extremely positive, with the biggest grievance being that that Activators did not have a chance to participate in every activity, as is the nature of most festivals. The overall success of the event, however, was largely measured by the connections forged and strengthened during the event, evidenced by the volume of social media posted both during and after the festival, including a Whatsapp group with over 100 Activators connecting and sharing media.

Activator Nyakallo Mbali Mdlalose summed it up perfectly on Facebook when she posted, “Great people… Great conversations… Powerful sessions… Huge energy… Everything that [took] place this weekend was beyond awesome. It sure feels nice to be part of the bigger circle. Thank you!”

The Imbawula Festival is just one of many events that fall under ACTIVATE!’s Engage platform and brings Activators together in a physical space to connect and engage with each other.

5 Minutes With Tshepang

The year 2015 promises to be a great one for dynamic and upbeat entrepreneur, author, life coach and optimistic leader, Activator Tshepang Mokgatla. Mokgatla, 28, born in Meadowlands currently resides in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

The University of the Witwatersrand Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation graduate launched his company, Be28 Youth Movement, in May 2014. Be28 is is driven by mental prowess among youth and is established on the belief that “if an individual does something consistently for 28 days, it becomes a habit.”

In a relatively short period of time, the company has already achieved massive success among the determined young people who’ve attended the training. This comes as no surprise considering the string of accolades behind its founder, which include the Raymond Ackerman Young Leaders Engagement Award and being chosen as one of the top 10 projects at the 2014 ACTIVATE! Showcase, to name a few. He is also an active member of Multichoice Young African Drivers and plans for the New Year include launching a branded clothing range under the Be28 umbrella.

“There is no time more perfect than now to make changes, at the beginning of the year when people are making New Year resolutions,” says Mokgatla.

Activator and freelance writer Lwazi Nyanakancesh Nongauza spoke to Be28 founder, Tshepang Mokgatla, about making life changes and entrepreneurship.

What informed the decision to come up with such a concept for a business?

Be28 Movement was born as an idea to create self-driven youth and to eradicate our country of the plague of entitlement. We need to change our posture as society from thinking and acting like the world owes us something. It started with me learning to overcome my challenges and testing out what works and what doesn’t and creating a bit of my own programmes.

Please share some of your challenges and successes as a young entrepreneur.

The biggest challenge I experienced was being resourceful as some of the things we think we need are not really necessary. Entrepreneurs work with what they have to get what they want, instead of letting looking outside for resources become a hindrance to their success. We create our own barriers to success by not looking at creating clearly defined business concepts that will define what we need to have for the company to be successful.

What’s your view on the levels of innovation and entrepreneurship in South Africa right now?

We are all powerful beyond measure, we are all masters of our own destiny, and with a clearly defined purpose and absolute faith in ourselves and our abilities, success is our only option. Like the discovery of gold, I think once we as a nation know what we are capable of, we will start having a lot more people mine this unchartered terrain. 

I believe you’re also about to publish a book this year. Please share a bit about that.

The book “Success is my only option” is a success coaching book that everyone should have in their library. It will help you gear up to take on the world no matter what you would want to achieve. You will also learn how to create a more compelling future and be able to shake off the challenges of the past. 

How different is your company from motivational speaking?

While motivation is a component of what we do at Be28, it’s not our core business. Our main service is success coaching. We help our clients structure their internal resources in order to move from where they are to where they would like to be. Motivation only looks at the aspect of “I did it and so can you,” however, it doesn’t acknowledge that we are different.

 

CONNECT WITH TSHEPANG

Twitter: @tshepangfwf.com

instagram: @tshepangfwf.com

Success is my only option – Tshepang Mokgatla on Facebook

tshepangmokgatla@yahoo.com

0763751759 

The Square Peg in the Round Hole

I once read somewhere that the genius of African culture lies in its repetition, with new elements added every time around. This results in something new and fresh from those who dare to express their own interpretation of the cycle of life.

 In my humble opinion, the best rules are those that encourage “no rules”. My views are that to inspire an entire generation would take an equally outrageous, bold and unconventional approach or method.

We need to defer from mimicking the popular and encourage our young people to mine the fertile veins of creativity that the Creator/God has placed in each one of us.

 Let me start by outlining some of the responses to change that I have observed within societies around me.  I live in a society where people enshrine ideologies that promote the separation or classing of each other, blissfully unaware of the subtle signals, which Mother Nature teaches us, that All Creation Works As a Package. From the majority of kids in our township high schools who succumb to societal pressures and don’t demand academic excellence from their teachers and themselves irrespective of the learning conditions, to the broader working class who don’t do enough to steer their organisations towards a meaningful social agenda.

Radical change is usually met with opposition from those who benefit from the prevailing status quo, or those who couldn’t (or are afraid to) take a stance.

Great influencers, from biblical day prophets to modern day versions – the likes of Steve Biko and Winston Churchill, are relegated to martyrdom, while scholars cower in the dark with their ink. However, considering the benefits we, as societies, receive from those who dared to roll out a blank canvas and write their own stories, it can only bode well for future societies if this attitude is encouraged. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, the colour of your skin or the amount of money you have, you can start today to influence or change the society around you if you have unwavering commitment to your beliefs.

Einstein once said that “great minds always face violent opposition from mediocre minds”, and in these current times, there has never been a more opportune time for society to break the mould – in my opinion.