Driving Change Through Sport

Sipho Phiri

PROVINCE: Gauteng

MUNICIPAL DISTRICT: City of Johannesburg

Activator since: 2012

 

What’s your passion?

Wellness, youth, my family. I am passionate about the development of men of all ages, in terms of their leadership roles in society and educating them to be good role models and responsible fathers. Passing on the message of what it is to be a man – leading by example, not only in their own houses but in their communities at large.

What change are you keen to drive?

I find it very important for young people to use sports facilities, because when sports facilities are accessible, young people will be more interested in participating in different sporting codes. By participating in sports, I believe young people can develop their social and communication skills. Teamwork, for example, is naturally learned through participating in team sports and games. Communication skills can really be honed and young people can also develop leadership skills, often discovering abilities that they never knew they had.

How are you driving change?

I am driving change through mentoring young football coaches in my community and seeking opportunities for them to enhance their coaching careers.  As a Wellness Coach, I organise coaching workshops for the coaches in my community so that they can enhance their current football knowledge. I believe that empowering coaches will enable them in having a positive impact on the lives of the kids that they engage with every day.

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

ACTIVATE has equipped me with tools that I use on daily basis, be it at work and in my community. ACTIVATE! also equipped me with knowledge through their Community Development Course which deepens your understanding and knowledge of community development practice and sharpen your skills, making you a more effective leader for public innovation.

How do you motivate yourself?

My kids drive me, my passion for developing people and my ability to know that I can do anything. I view myself as a change driver because a change driver is a person who is passionate about social development and they work first on transforming themselves before transforming others (through meaningful change in ourselves inspiring change in others).

You were interviewed under the topic, Sports Facilities on SABC 1’s education programme Walala Wasala. Why do you think you were chosen for this specific show? And what was highlighted on the programme?

I was chosen for the sports show because I am actively involved in sports in my community and my job title as a wellness coach adds value to the community work that I do in the community.

The show focussed on youth and local government, one of the topics was availability of parks and sports facilities for young people and most importantly, sports as an important tool in fighting social ills and grooming talent for the future.

How would you describe the experience?

The experience was amazing! I got an opportunity to learn more about my community and expose some of the good work that young people in my community are doing.

Final comment?

I am from Cosmo city, and I believe the government can use the open spaces in my community to build more sporting facilities so that all sporting codes can be accommodated. The government also needs to educate young people and the rest of the community on how they can access the facilities for usage.

Sport plays an important role in shaping young South Africans, because it provides an excellent pathway for young people to learn new skills, become more confident and maximise their own potential. Through participation they can have fun and enjoyment, learn and develop life skills, make new friends and experience life in a way that will enhance their personal growth throughout the course of their lives. These benefits will occur through a positive approach to the involvement of young people.  

Catch Sipho Phiri tonight on Walala Wasala. Tune in to SABC 1 @9pm.  

Creating Own Value Chains

Where are you from?

I am a 2012 Activator. My name is Mxolisi Vilane. I grew up in Empangeni, in a historical township which was well known as Esikhawini, but was recently renamed to Esikhaleni. I grew up in a house with both parents and three siblings, but ironically we have never been a family of six, because my cousin, niece and nephews also live at my place. With all these family heads, my father was the only bread winner. So my primary and secondary schooling was completed here, in Esikhaleni.    

Where do you live now and work?

Currently I live in Westville, Durban and occupy campus residence as a postgraduate student in Development Studies (MA).

However I work for a coastal FET College, at their Enterprise Development Unit, as a District Cooperatives Facilitator. We are an implementing Agent for the Department of Economic Development in rolling out trainings for cooperatives in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.   

What does my job entail?

My job entails providing cooperatives with business management skills, which include: Cooperatives Concept, Governance and Leadership, Book-keeping, Marketing, Costing, Operations and more. Business mentoring and monitoring is an after-service that we offer linked with financial institutions like SEFA and Ithala.   

What gets my blood boiling?

What gets my blood boiling is continuously witnessing the ignorance and arrogance of white people not accepting realities of their capital benefits in the previous regime. Even how the capital oriented system still favours them. On the other hand, I get entangled with fury when I see the lack of collective leadership commitment from our political leader in liberating the black nation.  The emerging culture and nature of protest that leaves community assets burning down… my tenants fail to identify with too.

What conversations are you having (subject)?

My conversations revolve around what constitutes the economy, and how black people can create their own value chains to ensure that their goals are realised through their own sweat and not through handed lunch. It is primarily in my conversations that we understand that the economy is land, water, natural resources, mineral resources, and education (meaning our education levels). Therefore the “#FeesMustFall” and free education… is an economic issue. I speak of Township Economy.

Land reform administration –  this is a primary conversation as a country to need to confront; we do not want money, but our wealth in a form of wealth that will look after generations. Therefore, on this subject of land particularly we should attempt to answer the question of ‘how’ do we go about it, not whether we should have it back or not.

Another missing conversation that dominates my private space is the role of religion in our education system. Ever since the recognition of a creator God in schools through prayer was forgone, we have witnessed a rise in malicious and uncalled for behaviours. Intellectual education without spiritual and moral guidance is futile. As a nation, we are doomed to produce professionals that are corrupt and without moral accountability if the creator God is not acknowledged by his creatures.

What would you like to say to young people?

Our generations have greater opportunities than a generation before us. Yes, our economy still needs professionals in different fields and, moreover, qualified and dedicated civil servants. But young people need to realise that not enough employment will come from the industrial sector, or the government (who is currently the highest employer). Global competition has become technological and less dependent on human capital.

What would you like to say to your future self?

To my future self, I want to say, ”When that time comes, you must able to look back and tell a story of how you contributed to the current social, economic and racial construction and the shaping of ideological space in this generation.”

What has you excited at the moment?

It is to see the generation that were previously labelled as free, born at a time in the fallacy of the rainbow nation, realising that race construction and institutional racism is still alive and well and needs to be confronted. We cannot be visitors in our own home. Being a visitor is a character. Therefore, especially seeing (even) those who were privy to attend ‘white schools’ rising up to speak against the system of education oppression is moment to realise, because now the child in the rural areas can identify with pupils in the Model C schools.

Would you like people to follow you on social media? If so provide details.

Facebook account: Mxolisi Vilane

Rosette Trading: An Entrepreneur’s Journey

Every year on 01 May, South Africa celebrates Workers’ Day. ACTIVATE! shines the spotlight on young people who are creating job opportunities in South Africa: their challenges and as well as their successes during this month. 

According to the 2016 Labour Force Survey, the rate of unemployment is sitting at 26.7 % in the April-June quarter, 2.2% higher than last quarter’s 24.5%. This year, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers theme is to “Connect, Provoke, Inspire and Influence” – a call for young people to collaborate and explore innovative and sustainable ways to drive positive change for themselves and their communities, a celebration of their achievements. In that spirit, we recognise Activator Boitumelo Seema, a young woman has conquered difficulties and also created opportunities for others.

Boitumelo Seema (25) was born in Mafikeng, grew up in Klerksdorp and groomed in Pretoria. She has always lived with her mother and is an ambition-driven philanthropist at heart. She is the founder of Rosette Trading, a company whose primary intention is the optimisation of people’s efficiency through the provision of customised training interventions, to assure the attainment of organisational goals. The entity was established in 2009 and it is a 100% black women-owned company, with 11 employees currently.

“I was first introduced to entrepreneurship at the age of 8. I’d bake frosted cupcakes with my mother, or make lunch packs, have a presentable layout and distribute to my schoolmates. I remember always going home with empty baskets and a fulfilled heart”, says Seema.  

With the North West, ranked 4th nationally with 28.1% in unemployment ratings, following after Free State, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape, Activator Seema runs a company that focuses on skills development. “We offer SAQA accredited courses in and around the North West Province. So often we find qualified graduates with no jobs solely because their required levels of education are not a substitute for the skills required for the position they seek. There is a shortage of skills in our country and we seek to assist in any way possible”, says Seema.

Her company is currently looking to contribute towards the development of the community where its operations are located. “We are mainly looking within the youth development and women empowerment areas. There seems to be a trend in small towns, Klerksdorp in particular, where the youth abuse drugs and alcohol due to lack of recreational activities, lack of exposure and a sense of hopelessness”. Rosette Trading aims to restore faith in youth by means of encouraging a conducive environment for young people to engage with successful people from similar backgrounds who are more than willing to offer mentorship.” She adds.

With 29.3% being unemployed females and speaking of women in entrepreneurship, Seema equally feels that women are not properly represented within this field, “Women constitute 52% of our country and yet find it difficult to fully participate in the economy. Prejudice still remains a key issue in our respective communities”, she add.  She continued to say that there’s nothing she believes in more than the coming together of like-minded phenomenal women. “If we as women, all hold hands and strive to create the perfect balance for improved change, no obstacle would be too big. We all have a fierce power within us”.

Although Seema continues to create these spaces as an emerging entrepreneur, Rosette Trading treats job creation as a matter of importance and one of its top priorities .“We aspire to create a ground that motivates entrepreneurship in order to promote job creation. Increased entrepreneurial activity ultimately leads to increased job creation which will in end uplift social and economic development. A positive wave of change.” This is how she’s inculcating her ripples of change. 

And her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is that “Entrepreneurship is all about risk. Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams, your passion, and that which sets your soul on fire”. Like many others, Boitumelo comes from humble beginnings and has ventured into a space that still needs to be explored innovatively by young people in order to create more jobs and help to boost the South African economy.

With the Black Ownership target set at 45% (30% reserved for black women ownership) and should be achieved as of 31 March 2018 by the Department of Trade and Industry, Black-owned companies like Rosette Trading should to influence local spaces, while driving positive change in South Africa. 

Every year on 01 May, South Africa celebrates Workers’ Day. ACTIVATE! shines the spotlight on youngpeople who are creating job opportunities in South Africa: their challenges and as well as their successes during this month.  According to the 2016 Labour Force Survey, the rate of unemployment is sitting at 26.7 % in the April-June quarter, 2.2% higher than last quarter’s 24.5%. This year, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers theme is to “Connect, Provoke, Inspire and Influence” – a call for young people to collaborate and explore innovative and sustainable ways to drive positive change for themselves and their communities, a celebration of their achievements. In that spirit, we recognise Activator Boitumelo Seema, a young woman has conquered difficulties and also created opportunities for others. Boitumelo Seema (25) was born in Mafikeng, grew up in Klerksdorp and groomed in Pretoria. She has always lived with her mother and is an ambition-driven philanthropist at heart. She is the founder of Rosette Trading, a company whose primary intention is the optimisation of people’s efficiency through the provision of customised training interventions, to assure the attainment of organisational goals. The entity was established in 2009 and it is a 100% black women-owned company, with 11 employees currently.“I was first introduced to entrepreneurship at the age of 8. I’d bake frosted cupcakes with my mother, or make lunch packs, have a presentable layout and distribute to my fellow school mates. I remember always going home with empty baskets and a fulfilled heart”, says Seema.  With the North West, ranked 4th nationally with 28.1% in unemployment ratings, following after Free State, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape, Activator Seema runs a company that focuses on skills development. “We offer SAQA accredited courses in and around the North West Province. So often we find qualified graduates with no jobs solely because their required levels of education are not a substitute for the skills required for the position they seek. There is a shortage of skills in our country and we seek to assist in any way possible”, says Seema.Her company is currently looking to contribute towards the development of the community where its operations are located. “We are mainly looking within the youth development and women empowerment areas. There seems to be a trend in small towns, Klerksdorp in particular, where the youth abuse drugs and  alcohol due to lack of recreational activities, lack of exposure and a sense of hopelessness”. Rosette  Trading aims to restore faith in youth by means of encouraging a conducive environment for young people  to engage with successful people from similar backgrounds who are more than willing to offer mentorship.”  She adds. With 29.3% being unemployed females and speaking of women in entrepreneurship, Seema equally feels  that women are not properly represented within this field, “Women constitute 52% of our country and yet  find it difficult to fully participate in the economy. Prejudice still remains a key issue in our respective  communities”, she add.  She continued to say that there’s nothing she believes in more than the coming  together of like-minded phenomenal women. “If we as women, all hold hands and strive to create the  perfect balance for improved change, no obstacle would be too big. We all have a fierce power within us”. Although Seema continues to create these spaces as an emerging entrepreneur, Rosette Trading treats job  creation as a matter of importance and one of its top priorities .“We aspire to create a ground that motivates  entrepreneurship in order to promote job creation. Increased entrepreneurial activity ultimately leads to  increased job creation which will in end uplift social and economic development. A positive wave of  change.” This is how she’s inculcating her ripples of change.   And her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is that “Entrepreneurship is all about risk. Don’t be afraid to follow  your dreams, your passion, and that which sets your soul on fire”. Like many others, Boitumelo comes from  humble beginnings and has ventured into a space that still needs to be explored innovatively by young  people in order to create more jobs and help to boost the South African economy.  With the Black Ownership target set at 45% (30% reserved for black women ownership) and should be  achieved as of 31 March 2018 by the Department of Trade and Industry, Black-owned companies like  Rosette Trading should to influence local spaces, while driving positive change in South Africa.

A Cocktail Of Disasters

STATISTICIAN General Dr Pali Lehohla’s revelation that South Africa’s education system had regressed over the last 20 years should come as no surprise to anyone who has witnessed the upheavals of the last year at university campuses.

Statistics South Africa’s recently released the “Social Profile of Youth” survey, which captures data from between 2009 and 2014 sums up the problems that young people in South Africa are facing, from a failing education system, to unemployment, mortality and their migration patterns which often bring about a whole set of social problems.

Lehohla had dubbed this “a cocktail of disasters”.

While the growth in South Africa’s population stood at 6,9%, the number of youngsters only grew by six percent- offset by lower birthrates with the average woman giving birth to 2,5 children on average.

While there were numerically more black South Africans entering tertiary education, the number who eventually graduated from university, as a proportion of the black population, had dropped off significantly since the early 1990s with Lehohla saying that black and coloured South Africans had regressed in their educational attainment.

Compared to white and Indian South Africans who in the late 1990s saw more their racial groups, again as a percentage of the population, graduating from university.

While Lehohla might not have said it at his press conference, this brings into context the #FeesMustFall protests and the call for transformation on campuses around South Africa.

When it came to migration, Lehohla said decisions by youngsters to leave their homes were often related to important life transitions like obtaining higher education, starting work, or getting  married.

The Eastern Cape was the province where most youngsters were likely to migrate with only 67,6% choosing to remain there compared to 88,3% in Gauteng and 91,3% in the Western Cape.

The biggest beneficiaries of youth migration was Gauteng whose youth population between 2009 and 2014 grew by an astonishing 428 000 with the Western Cape the second favoured choice with 281 000. The province which lost the most youngsters came as no surprise with 367 000 deciding to leave the Eastern Cape.

There were slightly fewer youth-headed households recorded in the survey, going from 27,5% in 2009 to 26,1% in 2014. The decrease had mostly been observed for older youth between the ages of 25 and 34 where it dropped 1,2% from 21,7 to 20,5%.

On the opposite scale, white and Indian South Africans were more likely to stay in nuclear households 65,7% and 56,5% respectively. This though is in contrast to another figure which shows that amongst whites the number of people living in extended households had increased 17,1% in 2009 to 24,8% in 2014. This can probably be attributed to the stagnant economy, forcing many youngsters to move back home with their parents.

For those youth who did manage to live on their own their expenditure tended to be rent, and utility services like water and electricity followed in second place by transport. The survey also found that for the group 25 to 34 only spent 1,6 percent of their income on health.

When it came to young people starting their own businesses, the numbers from Statistics SA showed that young entrepreneurs had declined by 2,6% to 27,2%.

This was also echoed in the number of economically active youth, meaning those who actively sought employment, declining by 1,7%.

While the number of youth seeking employment was down slightly, those who were actively looking for work and terming themselves unemployed had increased from 34,2% in 2009 to 35,9% in 2014.

In a nutshell, approximately two-thirds of South Africa’s five million unemployed consisted of youth in 2014.

The survey found that unemployment amongst youth was strongly linked to educational attainment, with 57% of those who were unemployed having “less than matric”, 38% with a matric certificate and four percent some tertiary education while only one percent of graduates were unemployed.

Black and coloured youth were most likely to find themselves amongst the ranks of the unemployed, with 66,6% being black and 68,9% being coloured.

Young men spent on average 21 minutes more per day on leisure activities compared to women, which came in at 102 and 81 respectively.

When it came to crime and violence, those between the ages of 16 and 34 were twice more likely to have experienced assault and robbery than adults. Most of the victims of violent assault were found  to be females from the Eastern Cape, making up 55,7% of reported cases. On average 40,1% of violent assault victims in South Africa were female.

Between 2012 and 2013/14 Stats SA found that youth were also more likely to be perpetrators of assault, robbery, property theft crimes.

The leading cause of death for youth were listed as “certain infectious and parasitic diseases” which could include TB, HIV/Aids and intestinal infectious diseases. Young men were likely to die of external causes like vehicle accidents and murder while young women died of diseases like TB and HIV/Aids.

Female-headed households reported a higher percentage of death than their male counterparts and households headed by Black Africans were more likely to report youth deaths at 94,5% which was above their population proportion of around 80%.

Youth deaths were more likely to occur in KZN at 30,7%, Eastern Cape at 17,8% and Gauteng at 13,1 percent.

While the Western Cape was the second largest recipient of Eastern Cape youth leaving that province, their living conditions once they arrived could hardly be described as ideal and 13% of them lived in informal settlements. In the North West this figure stood at 15,4 percent, with most of these informal settlements dotted around the Platinum Belt.

In most provinces youth were likely to live in poverty but the percentage of youth who lived in poverty had declined across all nine provinces between 2008 and 2011.


Promoting Access To Entrepreneurship

Tshepo Mabuya is a Community Development Practitioner, Social Entrepreneur and public speaker with over 5 years of experience in community development, leadership, public speaking, and Non Profit Management. He is an Activator, Ignitor, World Economic Forum Global Shaper Top 100 Brightest Young Minds Alumni. And most importantly, he is a change driver. 

What do you consider to be your field of passion/expertise?

My biggest passion is youth development through accelerated entrepreneurship, education and connection to opportunity. This is what I do in various organisations that I interact with.

What change are you keen to drive?

The change that I am willing to drive is that of promoting access to entrepreneurship and to develop the capacity of non-profits in order to promote youth development. 

How are you driving change?

I am driving change by advocating for a transformed corporate South Africa through the Black Management Forum by calling on Corporate South Africa to reflect the demographics of the country and by advocating for the capacity building and advancement of the SMME and NPO Sector through Afrika Mayibuye Entrepreneurship Hub Accelerator NPC.

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

ACTIVATE has supported me by affording me the opportunity to do the NQF Community Development Course which has improved my way of thinking and approach towards community development and youth development. This has assisted me in ensuring that I build a sustainable non-profit company.

In addition to that, ACTIVATE! has also supported me through the SWITCH platform which has equipped me with the soft skills that unlocked my way of thinking and applying innovation in all ideas that I have. However, this support did not start at SWITCH or CDCC but on the 18th January 2013 when I took part in the first residential training where I was supported through tools such as the “washing line” methodology, project planning model and the 198 ways of non-violent action and always through personal development.

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

The priority is to put young people at the centre when it comes to planning implementing as monitoring and evaluation of all the goals and targets that we set for ourselves as a nation. This is because a youthful country like South Africa requires that all goals and achievements benefit its young people.

In addition to that, the priority in setting the agenda for the country in the next 5 years is to create an effective developmental state that will champion youth development through connection go opportunity so that the youth of this country will become leaders for a winning nation.

You recently spoke at a National Imbizo (dialogue) on land redistribution and possibilities for youth. What were some of your key points?

Some of the points which I touched on was the historical analysis of how the minority government which represented the interests of the minority legitimised the dispassion of land through various statutes, which made such a move legitimate. I also spoke about how important it is for the majority government in present day needs to legitimise and ensure that there is land expropriation without compensation. I also touched on the issue of how important it is for young people to benefit if land is returned in the hands of the majority on issues such as free education the elimination of Illicit financial flows, as well as tax erosion. 

The backbone of my presentation was also that the expropriation of land does not mean that every Thabo and Lerato will own, but that whenever they want to pursue various ways of doing business farming or building a firm-since land is a very important factor of production-it will make it easy for them to access the land because currently it is very impossible for them to access the land. 

So my issue was that the majority government must start making tough choices which will eventually lead to economic freedom and youth development. 

Tell us more about your role within the Black Management Forum (BMF).

I am the National Projects Officer of the Black Management Forum. My role there is to mobilise partners and stakeholders in all projects that the Black Management Forum Student Chapter is undertaking, such as the issue of higher education transformation, skills development, and entrepreneurship development amongst young people. 

How do you motivate yourself?

I motivate myself by reflecting on my past achievements as well as looking up to the wonderful work that the Activators across the country are doing. 

Final comment?

There is no right time of changing the state of South Africa than at this moment. The best architects of this change are us young people and if we continue to be organised and continue to collaborate like that, eventually we will build the South Africa of our aspirations. Let us stay true to the cause. When some of us stumble, let us lift one another and continue the journey. Nothing comes easier. Most importantly we are the custodians of the revolution that awaits South Africa. Asante Sana!

The Smoke Of Different Colours

As I stand at a distance, I can see smoke rising from the beautiful green village of Vuwani. Vuwani is on fire again!!!  I know the reason; they don’t want to fall under the newly proposed municipality, which will merge them with Malamulele. The demarcation board decided to incorporate them with the newly formed municipality of Malamulele. They refused this and took the board to court but lost the case. That resulted in the chaos that is now in that area. The big question is: Why don’t the people in Vuwani want to be part of the Malamulele municipality?

Unlike last year’s crisis at Malamulele, the issue of Vuwani is not about service delivery, but rather ethnicity. “We may suffer but working hand in hand with Shangaan people won’t happen, over our dead bodies!” Those were the words uttered by one of Vuwani residents at the taxi rank while addressing people about the situation in the village.

As a Social Science student, I got closer and asked the man if the issue was more about them leaving Makhado Municipality to join Malamulele or the fact that they will be placed together with Shangaan people. He said they don’t care which municipality they are given, just as long as they are not with Shangaan people.

This made me think about the relationship between Venda people and Shangaan people. The reality is that even though they are a few kilometres away from each other, the rivalry between them dates back to the era before democracy. I then went on my cell phone to check one of the university’s Facebook pages, which has more than 200 students. I wanted to look at how Venda and Shangaan students interact with each other on that page. My assumptions were correct; there is friction between the two tribes. Most of the posts on the page are about Venda and Shangaan students talking down on each other. I realised that there is hatred between these two tribes, which seems to have started a long time ago. 

Meanwhile, one of the Vuwani residents has a different view. She mentioned that the residents never requested to be merged with another municipality in the first place. She added that they are happy with Makhado municipality, which they have been under for more than ten years. So she doesn’t understand why the government has to involve them in issues of Malamulela. “My kids and family don’t have food to eat because shops and roads are closed. I received a call from my mother asking me to bring food from Thohoyandou, where I work because they are starving at home,” she said.  

The resident said since the protests broke out, it is not only risky for her to travel to and from work, it is also very expensive. “Normally, it costs me R40 to travel from my home in Masisi to Thohoyandou, but now I have to spend more than R80. The situation is terrible; the government must do something because it is getting worse. Besides the burning of schools, people are suffering.”

I then met with another young lady from Vuwani who is a student. This is what she had to say: “This is like a forced marriage; we were never consulted about being placed with Malamulele. The Malamulele people were the ones who were fighting for their own municipality. We never complained about Makhado municipality. I understand that we lack services but I also understand that the municipality is serving lot of villages and they are trying. How can they give us new municipality without talking to us? This is a political issue, not a community issue. Who knows if the people who are burning schools are from Malamulele?” she said.

The smoke at Vuwani has different colours. This means there are more reasons for the protests in the village. Unlike Malamulele’s strike last year, which was clearly because they wanted a municipality, the issue of Vuwani is different. Although I have highlighted tribalism as a possible cause earlier, there is no clear evidence of that.

The reality is that people are suffering in Vuwani. Something must be done. As young people, we are concerned about the future of the children. Schools are being destroyed and their future is bleak.

Moments When Lives Change

Where are you from?

I am…generally I’d say Durban, KwaZulu Natal. We moved around quite a bit growing up; different sections eMlazi and Lamontville. I also went to Primary and High School eManzimtoti which meant I spent a lot of social time there so to be all inclusive I’d say Durban.

Where you live now?

Now I live in Dalian. It’s a beautiful coastal city in North Eastern China.

Where you work?

I work for the Aston Educational Group as a foreign language teacher.

What does your work entail?

Being awesome-generally …also teaching English and “Western culture” to adults and children from ages 3-13 years old. I put that in quotation marks because I think my students are exposed enough to “Western Culture”. This is evident in the standards of beauty they are taught (snow white, stick thin) and how they view intelligence (one who can speak English and survive in a Caucasian world). Clearly I do not support these views so I choose to teach them how to use language to engage with people from different places and cultures.

Being a foreign educator is a huge responsibility. I’m one of the few foreigners most of my students have ever seen and most likely the first black person they’ve ever interacted with. This means before I can even attempt to teach them anything new, the way I interact with them has to “unteach” them the ideas that they already have about foreigners -Africans more specifically.

What gets your blood boiling?

When South African expats think it is okay to speak badly about my country or my people to me, especially in my company. When they assume that it’s okay to do so because “surely [I ]left home because [I was ]smart enough to realise it’s going downhill”.

I mean, I am not blind to the issues we’re currently facing as a country, but one does not go to the neighbours house to talk about their domestic issues. It sincerely rubs me the wrong way when people who do nothing to help any situation grand stand and talk about everything that’s going wrong. My point is, “Unless you’re planning to do something about the situation – sit down, you’re irrelevant.” 

What conversations are you having?

I am really passionate about early childhood and youth development so I’ve truly been enjoying hearing stories about different journeys. Moments when lives changed, which methods are most effective to influence people’s lives.

And mostly I have been loving the inevitable subject of growing up as a woman and as a black child all over the world. The parallels, the differences. I’ve spent long nights with strangers on trains talking about identity, the purpose of youth, the different facets of love and the illusive idea of home.

What would you like to say to young people?

What could I possibly say that wouldn’t sound cliché?

I’d say just do it, whatever it is. That idea you’ve had that you don’t quite know how to go about, just go for it, uzofunda ngendlela. Knock on doors until you get in. You are enough as you are. Don’t wait to get older, to know more to have more- do it now.  

What has you excited at the moment?

 I am excited about the prospect of starting my Master’s Degree next semester. I’ve missed academia! I’ve also recently started a 3-month fitness programme which is intense, but is teaching me about staying healthy and disciplined.

What would you like to say to you future self?

To my future self I’d like to say, well-done. Look at you slaying and staying true to you. I am proud of you, of how much you have dreamed and grown and dared. Av’ uyiskhokho, shame!

Would you like people to follow you on social media?

I would love to connect with more Activators.

Instagram: lu_mulan 

Nokukhanya Zulu did the first module of the programme in 2015 but could not complete because she answered the call of growth and went to China. She took few moments away from her African Adventures in China for a catch up session.

Youth Leaders Speak Out Against Vuwani Violence

“We are appealing to law enforcement agencies to intervene in the situation in Vuwani. Some of us do not support the destruction of schools in our community as it sets us back and the work we’re doing in improving education outcomes in the community.”, says Kgothaso Mokgophi, a peer education and leader of a stationary donation organisation.

According to the 20-year old Mokgophi, the destruction of the 19 schools burnt in the area is a threat to an already bleak future for many youth in the community. The protests in the area are result of ongoing disagreement between the Municipal Demarcation Board and Vuwani residents. Mokgophi goes on to say that while the right to strike is enshrined in our constitution, there are many other ways in which the situation could have been handled without the damage to schools. Mokgophi is a University of Venda student and is one of 5 young change drivers who have founded an organisation called Limpopo Campaign that provides tutoring support in Sekhukhune. “When I am home in Vuwani, I assist different after-school support programmes. The destruction to these schools will be a setback to many of the learners we support”,said Mokgophi. Limpopo was among the worst performing provinces in the 2015 academic calendar year. Many experts believe that the burning down of 19 Vuwani schools will surely add more burden to Limpopo’s already ailing education system. 

Young social change driver  and Vuwani resident, Thendo Mapume lays the blame for this stalemate on both residents and the Board for not being able to come up with innovative ways to address the volatile situation. “We feel that the elders, politicians, traditional leaders and the Municipal Demarcation Board have failed us, young people. It is time that we, as the youth, take this in our own hands and use any means available to help in this situations such as mobilising for support through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Rudzani Musamabi Mashau is another young community leader who is taking action against the violent protests in Vuwani. He’s been instrumental in arranging a meeting today (at 2pm) with religious and traditional leaders to find quick solutions to support the affected learners. “The main aim with today’s meeting is to find out if they can allow schooling to be conducted their churches, synagogues, Mosques, community halls etc”, says Mashau. 

Mokgophi, Mapume and Mashau are part of the ACTIVATE! network. A nationwide network of young change drivers (who call themselves Activators) spread across the country.

President Jacob Zuma said, there is no grievance that can justify the destruction of property, especially schools which are meant to help the next generation of Vuwani to defeat poverty, inequality and unemployment. “Nobody should be allowed to destroy and jeopardise the future of our children and our country.” said President Zuma

 

Silly South African Season

Once again, the rather silly season of political campaigns for the South African population has come. 

What can people expect for the next few months? Politicians will be burning the soles of their shoes walking the streets, knocking at doors, kissing unsuspecting babies, engaging citizens and telling their stories.

Rallies will be held everywhere, T-shirts will be doled out by the millions, the masses will be invited to dance to musicians free of charge and countless speeches will be delivered. There will be flamboyance and theatrics galore.  

It is quite easy to see through their predictable tactics, as most of these tactics are rather old. 

A European politician is said to have remarked: “The masses are gullible. Hit them with a lot of pomp and awe, make a grand entrance and give them a bit of bread and you will have them eating out of your hand.” Doesn’t that sound familiar?

Well, maybe some competition and a bit of fun during elections are preferable to dictatorship and the dullness of a one party state. It is even more preferable to bleeding and death that are visited upon people in some countries whenever elections come around. Most countries within the Eastern African bloc like Tanzania and Burundi come to mind.

As we tangle with municipal elections in South Africa this year, we may need to pause and reflect and look at some of the defects of our political and electoral systems.

The first is that there is rather too much money involved in elections in this country. That’s undesirable because it means only those parties that are able to raise a lot of money to create razzmatazz vavavoom during elections would be able to compete at the polls to spread more ancient rubble rhetoric.

 
The challenge with money is that political parties would have to promise the donors something in return for their donations. Business relationships of kind. 

The corruption spectre might raise its ugly head here. As Thomas Mapfumo sings: “corruption, corruption, something for something, nothing for nothing”. It is thus a tad dim to complain about corruption in the public sector without examining the role of money in elections.

Too much money in elections also presents formidable odds against new entrants into the political space, which in turn robs the political environment of renewal, new ideas and vibrancy. 

Most of us know how almost impossible it is for people in the USA to go independent or form new parties outside the Democrats and the Republicans. 

The funding space is cornered by these two parties. Of course here is the big one: South African politics overpromises but under delivers. You can bet your last cent that the masses will be promised heaven and earth during the coming few months of campaigning, and very few, if any, of the promises would be fulfilled. No wonder many in our nation are now cynical about the democratic process and will not bother to vote. From a layman’s perspective, we shouldn’t blame them for being despondent, amidst the odds that we need to infuse a tradition of responsible active citizenry in such people.

The whole thing starts with the constitution. Anyone reading our constitution would imagine we are one of the most wonderful societies on the planet. And yet, the list of our societal defects is as long as your arm. Crime is rampant and our women and children are among the most unsafe in the world.

Inequality is the worst on earth and poverty levels are increasing all the time. The Statistician General has just told us in cold figures that black youth are robbed by this nation of a fair chance in life through poor education and training. We need to blame ourselves for this shocking reality.

Even if they do get an education, their chances of employment are less than those of their white counterparts. We knew that. It’s just that his figures hit you smack between the eyes.

The constitution is big on social rights but very thin on economic rights. And we have not seen a push in the last twenty two years to give black people greater ownership and control of the economy. 

That is, there is no meaningful drive towards economic democracy in South Africa.  Instead, we have been reproducing poverty and inequality through almost everything we do, including the poor education we provide for the black majority.

Yet, politicians will be running around the country promising the masses things most know will not materialise. It is cruel to feed poor people with unrealistic expectations and then condemn them when they spill into the streets to protest against unfulfilled promises.

Public knowledge is that corruption is the biggest enemy of the South African democratic project. Our society is bombarded by huge allegations of corruption through newspapers, radio, television news and social media.

Through their own observations, our people can see how many in the public sphere live in luxury at their expense. How tenders are given to people who are politically connected but ill-equipped to fulfill the aims of the tender. Cadre deployment has become a norm.

How some leaders engage in processes geared at stealing from the public purse, and how people without the requisite qualifications are employed in jobs well beyond their abilities and competences. 

Corruption induces anger, cynicism and suspicion in the population. It kills morale in the citizenry and alienates leaders from the ruled. It is a dangerous cancer that needs to be exorcised from our public life.

As we grapple with the elections of councillors, we should keep in mind the need to cleanse our system of blemishes that tarnish and weaken our public image governing environment.

Let’s use our heads rather than our stomachs when going to the polls.

Koketso Marishane is the Independence Commission Africa Chairperson and writes in personal capacity.

#ActivateImbizo: Spotlight Shines on North West Agriculture

ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, will facilitate a community gathering, the ACTIVATE! Youth Imbizo, at the Ipelegeng Community Hall in Extension 5, Scweizer Reneke to discuss agricultural development trends in North West. The event will take place on Friday, 06 May  from 12H30, with the aim to influence North West agricultural policy makers and authorities to accommodate more young people who are interested in agriculture.

ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is a network of more than 1600 young change makers or “Activators” across South Africa who are finding innovative ways to transform their communities and the country as a whole. The ACTIVATE! Youth Imbizo forms part of ACTIVATE! Change Drivers’ mission to equip young people with necessary knowledge and skills to thrive in their respective social development efforts.

Lezerine Mashaba, coordinator for the ACTIVATE! Youth Imbizo project says “Agriculture is pivotal to the sustainability of South Africa’s economy. It enhances local economic development as it is a source of employment and keeps most of the income local. For those reasons, it is very important to sustain that field by introducing young people to it so they can carry it to the next level.”

The event will be in a form of a multi-stakeholder dialogue and will discuss matters like trends in agricultural development in the province, agricultural trade, investments in agricultural water management and will look at ways to  best position young people’s interests in agriculture.

“By hosting this Imbizo, we hope to assist the government and other relevant organisations in developing programmes and campaigns that will make farming attractive to young people in both academic and business perspectives. It is also our wish that this event will encourage the private sector to participate in supporting agricultural activities in the North West province,” says Mashaba.

Representatives from government and the private sector will be present to engage in the dialogue. Mamusa Library Book Club, Mamusa Local Municipality, Kopano Club, Ipelegeng Secondary School and Youth in Tourism are some of the organisations that will be participating.  The session will be as interactive as possible to encourage maximum participation of all attendants, thereby enabling an environment for teaching and learning.

For more information and details on how you can participate or attend, please contact Bongani Hlatshwayo on 072 822 1756.

Under the umbrella theme, ‘Democracy in Action’, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers facilitated similar Imbizos in three other provinces. On 05 April the Imbizo was held in KwaZulu Natal where ‘HIV/AIDS prevention’ was discussed. In the Eastern Cape the Imbizo took place on 08 April and the dialogue was around ‘Abortion Stigma’. The third Imbizo was held in Free State on 22 April and the aim was to explore how civic engagement and social participation among South Africa’s youth can be enhanced. The overall aim of these Imbizos is to highlight how these topical issues affect South Africa’s hard earned democracy and come up with resolutions. 

ends.

Issued by ACTIVATE! Change Drivers. For more information please visit www.activateleadership.co.za 

For media related queries, please contact:

Nomtika Mjwana

ACTIVATE! Change Drivers

Email: nomtika@localhost  (cc: communications@localhost)

Cell: 079 816 3910