Driving Change To A Different Tune

 What is your passion?

I am passionate about writing and making music, fashion writing and design. I am also passionate about television (the making of it that is).

What are you excited about lately?

I am excited about going back to starring on TV soon. I will be featured in a series I cannot really talk about right now, but it is something I have always wanted to do in life. I am also excited about this 90% local music on SABC radio. It is such a great opportunity for musicians like myself. There is so much talent out there and finally there is an opportunity to make our country’s talented indie artists to be heard.

Share with us what you do, how many people you touch and how long you have been at it?

I have recently started teaching kids in my area how to play basic guitar and keyboard. We are on our 4th month now. I now have 12 kids coming to my house to learn instruments. For now we use my musical instruments and I will definitely be buying more instruments in the near future. My main concern is finding an area that we can use for these lessons. I haven’t really focused on the impact it has, however I feel like these kids are excited to have found something that is beneficial to them as some want to grow as musicians, because these kinds of lessons normally cost. I offer these lessons for free because I want to give them hope that they, too, can be great instrumentalists.

Why do you believe in the work that you do?

We grew up knowing that musical instruments are meant for people with money and many black artists grow up not knowing how to play any instrument. As a musician, knowing how to play basic piano chords helps a lot. It makes it easier for song-writing, better vocal control and many other important factors in our saturated music industry. Being able to play an instrument also creates opportunities for many of these young artists. I want these passionate kids to look forward to having options in life.

How do you connect with Activators and those around you?

I haven’t really given myself time to connect with Activators around me but I would like to start, especially ones that are interested in the arts.

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

I have only been to Module 1 so far and will soon be going for Module 2 and I must say ACTIVATE! has really changed my way of thinking and approach when it comes to how I do things. I am now a lot more confident in my trials. I now know that all I need to do is apply myself into everything I do, be smart about it and bring confidence with. ACTIVATE! taught me how to present my work better. I do not even think I would have taken this step in my life had it not been for Module 1.

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

Education in all levels. That is something we need to fight against poverty and illiteracy. Skills development and talent management, debt education and financial management, free quality tertiary education.

How do you motivate yourself?

I just sing. That gives me hope. I listen to these songs that I write and I know that I, too, am just as good as any successful person. I need to constantly remind myself that I am good enough, that I am enough and I have great potential.

Final message to young people?

Always chase your dreams. No matter how hard it gets, your dreams matter. The world needs your passion and your contribution. The world needs your talent and skills. It doesn’t matter if I think you are good enough or not. Even if you get 1 million people saying NO, the only YES you need in this world is from God. Keep working, keep practicing and most importantly- keep sharing with others. It gets better.

Abram “Linkol LX” Mophokane is a 2016 Activator from the Gauteng Province

ACTIVISM OR DEATH FOR BLACK YOUTH IN DEMOCRATIC SOUTH AFRICA.

I’m writing this message not only to remember the killing of 575 Black Youth on 16 June 1976 but also to acknowledge the Vacuum of Activism that has been created by “White Supremacy” against resistant groups/individuals in South Africa since then. This message is dedicated to South African History which is rooted and written in the bloodshed, oppression, enslavement, rape, alienation, genocide and exploitation of Black people and particularly the activists who stood against the exploitation, oppression and social degradation of Black People against “White Supremacy” and colonial rule.  The pro-racist and colonial class has played a major role in indoctrinating blacks to believe that they are inferior to whites, that a Whiteman is a “Bass” which means boss that a Whiteman brought civilisation to downward Africans who sang and danced with monkeys in jungles. To this day, when they see whites, black people think that they are seeing physical gods which then adds to the inferiority complex that has been developed for over 300 years.

Thousands of students in Soweto mobilised each other for one “common Goal” which was to resist Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in the education that reflected Blacks as inferior and whites as superior and for which was a major element in the expansion of “Bantu” Education which taught and trained black people to serve and provide cheap labour for the benefit of “White Supremacy”. What the Youth of 1976 had was courage, and despite the fact that activists have always been silenced when it comes to resisting exploitation and degradations. The Youth took a stand despite the circumstances that they were aware of (submit and live, fight and die) they were never scared to take a stand. And they believed that if they could all have the same voice against exploitation, then they’d better die for the cause as a group/team, and little were they aware that despite most of them losing their lives, their contribution was to become acknowledged, recognised and historically fundamental.

In 40 years anniversary of the 1976 “Student Massacre”, the 16th of June is now considered a Public Holiday in recognition of the 1976 student contribution to the liberation of the “Black indoctrinated Class” .Black people continue to suffer the consequential damages of 400 years of exploitation, genocide, social degradation and dehumanisation. It will be very cowardly said to believe that “Blacks” are free from the shackles of colonialism, indoctrination, “Apartheid”, exploitation, race rape, convictions and dehumanisation because there is no physical evidence of freedom for Black people whatsoever.

Today, we have a so-called “Black Government” but it is not necessarily a government but a Management. This means that they are perpetuating existing systems, with very little initiative towards actual transitioning. Our economy still reflects “Apartheid”. Who still controls mining companies that prints the money we use? A White man. Who is the labourer? A Black man. Who controls agriculture/ the food system? A White man. Who is the labourer? A Black man. Who controls the oil that is used for fuel? A White man. Who are petrol attendants? Blacks. Who controls the banking system, the main flow of economy? Whites, and who are the majority of workers? Blacks. Who is in control of the internet and cable systems? Whites, and who are the main internet users? Blacks. There is no Black Government that owns the means of production much that even our phone network cables are outsourced and I am not preaching hate, I’m pointing out what truly exist and if it is hard enough then that means our reality and condition as Black people should be preached without the fear of being accused of extremism and racism because the system of hatred has given itself much power that when we outline the truth we are regarded as “evil” and uncivilized. Is civilisation supposed to mean that Blacks should submit to “White Supremacy” by promoting their own inferiority complex? If that’s the case then civilization itself is conspiracy against the life of the innocent.

It was not in 1960 (Sharpeville Massacre) or 1976 (Student Massacre) when “Black” mining employees were massacred in Marikana for standing up against “Low Income” for so much hard labour in mines against ‘White miners” who do the little to get the Gold but reap all the benefits coming from the effort of Black workers – it was in Democratic South Africa. It is still easy for Policemen to open fire against the Black Masculine Class that stand against fallacies, labour exploitations, University fees, poor sanitation and service delivery. How many cases of police brutality are reported each week against innocent peaceful uprisings? It was not in 1976 when Students throughout the country joined hands to come with the “Student Must Fall” Campaign, it was in 2016. And what was the state response? Policeman opened fire ignoring the fact that Black students are denied the chance to reinvent themselves by very expensive university fees that they don’t afford and the government’s solution to all that is providing loans and introduce them to debt so that by the time they leave university they are not debt-free and are obligated to live a debt-vested life and when they fail to pay such debts they get “Black-listed” much that it becomes difficult for them to find jobs.

It pains me to see black youth filling clubs and taverns on 16 June of each year and turning this ferocious Holiday into some kind of celebration whereas this was supposed to be the reflection of the kind of society we live in because if we were to compare Police Brutality against Blacks standing up against exploitation back in the day to this day, reality tells that there is no difference. We have no other alternative remaining for us as black youth in South Africa except activism. And without activism we are better off dead because the fact that we are divided and killing each other on the streets of Johannesburg, Soweto, Tembisa, Alexandra, Gugulethu, Mninginisi, Mdantsane and everywhere else should show that we hate our blackness much that we kill each other, we rape each other, we fight against one another whereas other races are standing together united and strong because we have been taught to dishonor our own kind and today the inferiority complex have lined us up for race extermination.

The Key Is Unity

What is your passion?

I’m passionate about law, especially principles such as equality, and literature.

What are you excited about lately?

The fact that I’ve just established a student chapter of Constitutional Literacy and Service Initiative. And of course my published novel.

Share with us what you do, how many people you touch and how long you have been at it?

I’m a human rights activist – a member of the University of the Free State Centre for Human Rights and I work with the communities around me to advance constitutional literacy. I’ve reached so many people and because of the lectures, people are becoming increasingly aware of their constitutional rights. I also touch a lot of people through my literature.

Why do you believe in the work that you do?

Because I can reach as many people as possible and at the same time have a positive impact on their lives.

How do you connect with Activators and those around you?

We invite one another when we have projects. Because most of us are studying we hardly get time to be together but as long as one of us has an event or needs help in organising one we drop everything and avail ourselves.

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

In terms of networking and mobilising people behind my work, ACTIVATE! has taught me a lot. Also because of the contacts I’ve made ever since I joined the programme I’m able to pick up a call and I know there’s someone as passionate as I am who’s willing to help.

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

Education with an entrepreneurial mindset. What we are grappling with currently is the unemployment and, through education alone, I don’t see us combating this social ill. Employment opportunities have largely shrunk leaving thousands of qualified graduates with no prospects of employment. But you see, with an entrepreneurial mind set spearheaded by education itself, we’d stop being dependent on the labour market that has proven that it won’t accommodate every graduate. But rather create employment for both ourselves and those around us.  

How do you motivate yourself?

I look up to people who are doing great things out there and I ask myself: what is it this that this guy is doing that I’m not? From there on, I take out some of the key attributes behind their success. It being work rate or patience. I also look backward a bit and there I see thousands of people looking up to me and I tell myself should I fail, I’d have failed thousands of people looking up to me and probably motivating themselves through me.

Final message to young people?

Unity and hard work is key. All our problems are going to be solved if we work together and equally put an effort to build the kind of a country we envisage as young people. The one we’ll lead in the near future. One other thing is patience which is something we lack as young people. We want things to happen and happen now, to an extent that for us to be heard we need to torch a building or two. But with patience and dealing with our problems in a civilised manner there’s bound to be a prosperous future ahead for us.

Ntshala is a 2014 Activator from the Free State.

We are African Before We are South African

Identity still remains a highly contentious and divisive issue in African society. One occasionally comes across heated debates on South African social media about who is an ‘African’ and who is not. Young, old, whites, blacks, foreigners, immigrants, homosexuals, heterosexuals and many other words which aim to socially identify and classify people.  There is nothing wrong with having an identity; the problem arises when an identity is used to justify exclusion and dehumanisation.  It is far more advantageous and progressive to invest in the African identity sometimes than in a nationality. It is perfectly normal at this stage for the reader to be frantically searching for the point in all this identity talk. Well, these are some of the concepts that have preoccupied my mind ever since my arrival in Namibia in early May as part of an exchange agreement between South Africa and Namibia.

Due to cost cutting measures by the South African government, I unfortunately travelled by bus to Namibia, which meant a gruelling 24 hours on the road. The scenery was spectacular, vast stretches of desert, which quickly turn into Savannah (yes, it is dry but you can’t drink it). The capital, Windhoek, is a modern bustling African city, the cleanest in Africa as far as I am concerned; literally no papers, plastic or sweet wrappers on the ground. Food is, however, very expensive in Namibia. Nothing illustrates the point better than the price of an IQF 2kg Chicken (affectionately known as a ‘2KG’ in South Africa) which costs a whopping N$89. One cannot ignore the economic and cultural dominance of South Africa over Namibia, the Namibian dollar is pegged to the rand. Young Namibians also speak about “blessers”. Most major South African retailers are available, Afrikaans is widely spoken, and one could mistakenly think possessing a South African identity is an advantage in Namibia.

Carrying a South African identity in Namibia can be extremely advantageous at times just as it can be equally precarious. In some instances, it can be a poisoned chalice, this is due to the fact that historically in Namibia South Africa was synonymous with colonialism and oppression. One occasionally (if not constantly) has to distance himself from the actions of apartheid South Africa. It literally gives one first-hand experience of how some young white South Africans might feel in post-1994 South Africa, bearing an identity of an oppressor can be a cumbersome affair. I had the opportunity of meeting Namibia’s first democratically-elected president Dr Sam Nujoma near a place called Ondangwa, seated under a tree surrounded by VIP protection and governors and a litany of other onlookers, his first question to me was “ Are you South African? How is President Zuma?” the eager eyes of the entire entourage shifted towards me, full of expectation. I am sure some of them felt pity for me and curiously listened to how I would handle the political mine field I found myself in. I won’t bore the reader with how I sidestepped that potentially sticky situation, but what is obvious is the fact that Namibians follow our politics very closely as they directly affect them economically.

Namibians are generally very humble, extremely proud and welcoming. They are true representatives of what it means to be African. Although they are not a homogenous society, they have successfully managed to instil a culture, even among the young that being African first is far more beneficial than prioritising division. The African Union flag stands side by side with the Namibian flag in nearly all state and private institutions, even in rural schools children sing both the African Union and the Namibian anthem. Namibian youth are very dynamic, in a culturally conservative nation they have managed to use the very same prescripts of culture to secure their own seat at the table of national discourse. One occasionally hears youth activists quoting the Oshiwambo idiom “Waa na mutanda ku na ngombe” (If you do not have a calf, you do not have a cow) which they interpret to mean without youth there is no nation. This they use to justify their inclusion. Young people in Namibia (particularly Northern Namibia) are extremely entrepreneurial. Unlike many in South Africa who believe that attending ‘Business seminars’ or ‘wealth summits’ makes one a business person, in Namibia people believe if you can purchase tomatoes and are able to sell them at a profit, then you are a business person.

What all these snippets highlight is the fact that as Africans we are connected, particularly as young people. Our history is divisive and painful, however, our collective African identity is the cohesive glue that binds us together. An African identity is portable, one can take it wherever they go; because as the quote by Dr Charles Finch suggests at the beginning being an African transcends geographic location, it transcends tribes or race but is a state of mind. If we want this concept to work, young people should and must be at the forefront. Political principles need to abandon phrases like “we need to engage the youth”, the youth doesn’t need to be engaged, it needs to be involved.

Tshwane Youth Leadership Talk: Press Release

2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the Youth Uprisings in 1976, a symbol of youth leadership in the South African history. In celebrating the anniversary, Agape Youth Movement (AYM) in collaboration with the National Library of South Africa (NLSA) and the City of Tshwane, will host their 2nd Annual Tshwane Youth Leadership Talk (TYLT).

Agape Youth Movement is an award-winning and most innovative youth-led Non-Profit Company (NPC), with an aim to own the challenges of youth in South Africa and work alongside government and private sector to bring innovative social solutions.

 The Chief Empowerment Officer (CEO) of Agape, Thabang Ramoroka, is part of the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers’ network of more than 2000 young change makers or “Activators” across South Africa who are finding innovative ways to transform their communities and the country as a whole.

TYLT is a dialogue with youth leaders, a platform to discuss youth leadership with a special focus on youth development. This programme aims to capacitate the youth, within institutions of learning, with elements of leadership. The youth needs consciousness of the struggle of their generation. The event programme features panel discussions by prominent South African Youth Leaders and high school RCL members, keynote address under the theme: The 1976 of 2016.

The TYLT is an initiative and element of a learner-leader programme that provides learners in leadership positions with leadership training and mentorship in high schools, with an aim to create a platform on which learners can understand their high school challenges, the role they could play and be mentored in implementing solutions. With that said, we would like to invite you for media coverage of the 40 Years Commemoration of the Youth Uprisings in 1976 at our event, through pre and post-event profiling.

The programme will feature a keynote address by the Deputy Minister of Department of Basic Education – Honourable Enver Surty and the CEO of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) – Mr Khathutshelo Ramukumba followed by two panel discussions with future leaders on the role they could play to better the education system.

EVENT DETAILS

Date: 25 June 2016

Venue: National Library of South Africa (NLSA) Main Hall

Address: 75 Thabo Sehume Street, Pretoria 0001

GPS Co-Ordinates: -25.742686, 28.189628,15

Time: 8:30am – 4pm

Promo Video: https://youtu.be/u4SETK-HjXQ

Hashtag: #TYLT2016

A! Men Launch

“Dismantling patriarchal myths.”
“Repositioning men as society co-builders rather than predators.”
“Creating an inclusive, non-sexist society and reclaiming positive perceptions about men.”

These striking bold phrases kept coming up at the launch of the A! Men Movement, which took place at the Constitutional Hill on Saturday, 4 June 2016.

A! Men is a youth advocacy group led by ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Team Leader, Malusi Mazibuko with dozens of young people from all over the country. At its core, the movement aims to challenge and re-focus negative perceptions about men. This independent youth structure seeks to reclaim a positive reputation of men in society, redefine gender roles, connect gender activists and experts, provoke dialogues about patriarchal myths, positively influence social beliefs; specifically youth and to provide support links for every South African. 

Watch Malusi Mazibuko TV interview.
Besides reconstructing an inclusive non-sexist society, the A! Men Movement also intends to provoke robust discussions on masculinity, facilitate life skills mentorship programmes and ongoing fatherhood support structure.Some of the speakers include author, film maker and change driver, Vukulu Sizwe Maphindani,  entrepreneur and social change driver, Mpho Maphologela, entrepreneur and sexual health educator, Rees Mann, motivational speaker and entrepreneur, Tsholofelo Mojakgotle, media practitioner, Kennedy Nhlangoti, gender activist and bookseller Nhlanhla Mbawula Nkosi , Human Rights  expert and social change driver Junior Sikhwivhilu – all members of the ACTIVATE! Network.Organisations who supported this initiative on the day included, South African Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse, physically challenged entrepreneur support programme, The Small Giant, Human Rights Institute of South Africa, State of the Union, graphic and website design company, Mdokha Designs just to mention a few. 

The event was attended by young people from almost all provinces. Event organiser, Malusi Mazibuko, said the overwhelming attendance and ongoing public feedback from young people who want to join the movement is success indication sign that clearly shows that the country has been yearning for such relevant movement. “The fact that young people came as far as North West, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Gauteng tells me and the members of this movement that indeed there is a need for a movement like ours. This also shows that there are still people who want to see this country cleansing itself and going forward”, said Mazibuko.

The movement received a lot congratulatory messages of support from gender activists, civil society advocacy groups and government departments. Gender justice activist  Siviwe Minyi is one of many South Africans who applauded the founders and the members of A! Men Movement. “This is indeed a great youth-led initiative that can drive change in South Africa. I hope members of this movement will not be scared to address patriarchal social ills. For me, that would be a great starting point for and they can only achieve that by implementing innovative strategies that will make men understand that relinquishing power and establishing an egalitarian doesn’t mean loss of gender roles. Men and women can living alongside each other. Therefore men need to speak to other men about equality. A language that men understand is what shall take us further forward”, he says. 
The A! MEN Movement has extended its invitation to all sectors of society to participate in its nation building activities. Mazibuko  reiterated that A! Men movement is not a male-only organisation. “The movement calls for a new generation of young leaders to step up and take the lead and set the good precedent.” said Mazibuko.

Some of the movement way forward plans include prestige fund-raising gala dinner on Women’s Day (9th of August 2016), provincial branches launch, negotiating collaborations with various civil society organizations and government officials who share the same or similar vision of building a society where male are no perceived to be predators but trusted responsible co-builders.
Those who want more information about the A! Men Movement can visit the movement website www.amensa.co.za. Alternatively, they can call the A! Men Movement hotline 063 067 5679 or email assist@a-men.co.za / ACTIVATE!menza@gmail.com. 

The A! Men Movement social media platforms are @ACTIVATE!MenZA or facebook page A! MenZA

Create Change Press Release

Thursday, 19 May 2016

What can ordinary citizens and small groups of people do that can create real change and have large scale impact? Although there are various ways to improve South Africa, evidence from around the world shows that one thing – more than anything else – can lead to greater equality, better education and health outcomes; a stronger economy and a better society with less crime and public violence. That is: investing in the early development and wellbeing of children. 

The DG Murray Trust, a private foundation investing in initiatives aimed at ensuring every South African is given the opportunity to fulfil his or her life potential, recently released a powerful seven-minute video showing the potential of young children to bring real change to South Africa. Titled, ‘What will bring the next real change in South Africa?’, the video appeals to both logic and emotion and makes suggestions of how ordinary citizens and small groups of people can start creating change for the children of South Africa and the future of our country.

The video forms part of DG Murray Trust’s Create Change campaign which includes an online toolkit with ideas, guidelines and tools that ordinary citizens and small groups of people can use to support the early development of South Africa’s children. The kit is available free of charge from the trust’s website and is being widely distributed to individuals, community institutions and organisations across South Africa.

“The DG Murray Trust has been working and investing in the social development space for several decades and the bulk of our investment goes towards the early development of children, simply because it is the most powerful investment in human capital that a country can make,” says Dr. David Harrison, CEO of the DG Murray Trust. 

Outlined in the video, and confirmed by resilience studies from around the world, is that children need just three things to thrive despite their poverty: a loving parent or caregiver; an additional caring adult standing by the child and connections to opportunity – even modest opportunities – at crucial times in a child’s life. Child psychologist Ann Masten calls these three things the ‘ordinary magic’ that can place even the poorest children on the pathway to success.

“Imagine what could happen if each of us found a way to help nurture just one child at risk?  To be there for them and their parents, in small and practical ways? Like standing by a mother during pregnancy. Bringing a few books and toys into the home of a young baby. Telling stories and reading to a group of children every week,” asks Harrison.

Every year, a million children are born in South Africa and half of them will miss out on achieving their full potential.  All that is needed is for 500 000 people in this country to show interest in our children and confidence in our common future.
You can start by watching the seven minute video ‘What will bring the next real change in South Africa?’ and by exploring the associated toolkit.
Who will bring the next real change in South Africa? Each and all of us.  

Visit www.dgmt.co.za/change-south-africa/ to start creating change for the children of South Africa and the future of our country.   The DG Murray Trust’s is a private foundation aiming to, together with our implementing partners, create an ethical and enabling environment where human needs and aspirations are met and each South African is given the opportunity to fulfil his or her potential.  

Issued by: Sally Mills / Reach PROn behalf of: DG Murray TrustContact: Sally Mills
Sally.claire.mills@gmail.com082 333 0461

 

#OrlandoShooting: Let me add another HashTag

For the record, this is not about #OrlandoShooting, this is about the ‘daily discriminatory shooting’ that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ+) community experience daily. The #OrlandoShooting is a reflection of the societies we live in, whether it’s in the US, South Africa or Brazil.  Give me a chance to share my somehow selfish 2 Cents about the #DailyDiscriminatoryShootings from which the #OrlandoShooting finds its comfort. This comfort transcends geo-boundaries as best as we know them.

The other day, I went to a supermarket and in front of me in a queue was a white guy my age who, like me, was shopping and about to pay.  The cashier was a white woman and she greeted the guy and asked him whether he was paying by cash or card, to which the gentleman replied ‘card’. The cashier then turned the card machine to the guy’s direction so he could administer his transaction. Transaction was complete and it was now my turn. Did I get a greeting? Nope! Did I get an eye contact? No! Did she ask if I am paying by cash or card? Yes! Finally, I get asked. In my mission to try my best not to catch feelings, I replied “Card!” Did she turn the EFT card machine? Nope! She then asked me to give her my card so she could administer the transaction on my behalf. I gave her the card and she did the transaction. When was done, I asked her why she’d treated me differently from the previous customer, and before she could answer I left.  If you do not see what is wrong with this encounter, you are a #DiscriminatoryShooter like the cashier and I will not bother narrow it down for you.

I digress back to the LGBTIQ+ discriminatory shootings we experience on a daily basis that create an enabling environment for the #OrlandoShooter to exist.  A good example is Mpho Tutu who was on the verge of being stripped off her right to practice as Reverend Canon of the Anglican Church had she not resigned because she married a woman. The Cape Town Diocese was instructed from the higher offices to revoke her licence on the basis of her marriage to a woman. Weeks later, Arch of Canterbury calls for Christians to pray for the victims of the #OrlandoShooting. You see, the church has created an environment that makes people like #OrlandoShooters to exist and feel comfortable and convicted that their views at whatever level of extreme are justified.  The same conviction that the white Christian men who were part of the Ku Klux Klan had and went as far as lynching our black brothers and sisters in the US, is the same DNA that the #OrlandoShooter is made of.

Therefore, let us not act surprised and #PrayForOrlando. Instead, #PrayForRepublicans in the US to shift their legislative stance on same-sex marriages and gun control laws.  #PrayForChurches to amend their church laws that recognise holy matrimony as a lifelong and exclusive union between one man and one woman. We should not downplay the role churches have in socialising people and normalising ideas that form part of an individual’s belief systems.  The #DailyDiscriminatoryShootings come in a form of a lifetime ban of men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood without any sound scientific or medical reasons.

As a people, the #OrlandoShooting offers us an opportunity to reflect on how, on a daily basis, we discriminate against others such that people like Penny Sparrow calling black people monkeys, or #OrlandoShooters killing about 49 people and injuring 53 in a gay club feel confident to a level that they commit such atrocities.  We need to be aware of our own contradictions and hypocrisy. We are first to complain about politicians that they do not talk to us or roam our streets unless it is campaigning seasons.  This is because politicians are driven by the looming Election Day which motivates them enough to sing, dance and make moving speeches.  We also do the same! People had to be killed for lawmakers in the US to start a process of reviewing gun laws.  The LGBTIQ+ community had to be slayed; to a point where the Food and Drug Administration policy on banning MSM from donating blood was put on spotlight with the Democrats calling the policy to be reviewed since the LGBTIQ+ community was not allowed to save one of their own, because of the stigma attached to the gay community regarding transmission of HIV and Hepatitis.

In conclusion, all of us must think and act proactively towards erosion of injustices of any kind.  It should not cost us a soul for us to do the right thing. Let us not wait for situations to deteriorate for us to start praying or reviewing policies nor thinking twice about our beliefs and actions.  
 

“Blood mustn’t be spilt for us as a people to act.”

Senzo Hlophe is a member of the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers’ network of more than 2000 young change makers or “Activators” across South Africa who are finding innovative ways to transform their communities and the country as a whole.

Who is Network Connect?

Network Connect was set up in 2015 to keep in touch with Activators in this expanding network and to share what they are dong with other Activators and the SA public. These are some of the strategies that we employ to keep the network connected.

Iimbizo (Imibizos) Dialogues

Activators mobilising conversations and dialogues across the country

Activators are hosting imbizos (public dialogues) with partners and Activator facilitators in rural and urban areas across all provinces and wherever possible, sharing the conversation  across South Africa via the media, radio and social media.

The subject of each Imbizo is decided by the Activators themselves.

Watch this space for upcoming Iimbizo. Keep in touch with activated youth get better and better at holding their point of views in public spaces, contributing to important local and national conversations.

Dialogues that have been covered include; defining democracy in the current South African content; youth access to land; issues of race class and gender; HIV and AIDs prevention and management; sexual and reproductive health – rights ad responsibilities; active citizenry and youth participation.

For more information: lezerine@localhost / nontobeko@localhost

Local Stations

Activators are organising spaces to come together regularly to meet, engage, network, share knowledge, skills, ideas and resources, and forward their individual and collective causes.

Stations can be any meeting place, a library, a coffee shop, a tree or someone’s garage. (Some Activators have obtained spaces in Municipal Offices). Activators can register their meeting space on the ACTIVATE! website and map and advertise meeting dates and events on the web calendar and Activate Stations Facebook page.

Activators who want to register stations or members of the  public who want more information on Activate stations can contact:  Nonkululekoh@localhost

Follow what’s happening in the ACTIVATE stations across the country on the Activate Stations Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/Activate-Stations-Channel-913982238714578

A! Help Desk

The Activator Help Desk fields Network enquiries to relevant members of the Network Connect team. This desk will help you to know how we can partner with you and work more closely.

For more information: bongi@localhost / helpdesk@localhost.

You-th Making Local Government work

Actively promoting engagement at local government level

Navigating and engaging with the socio-political environment is an ongoing intention of the ACTIVATE! programme and  we continue to promote the work of the many inspiring  Activators who vigorously engage with local government.

The examples of their engagements are many from the young man who persuaded the mayor and local council staff to walk barefoot through the town in support of  his shoes for school campaign;  to Activators registering as observers in the August 2016 election;  to Activate members standing for election as local councilors.

For more information contact: tebogo@localhost.

Follow ACTIVATE youth making local government work on   https://www.facebook.com/activateleadership.co.za

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: ACTIVATE! owes a huge debt of gratitude  to Local Government Action and the Education Training Units for assisting us to lay the foundation on how to engage with government (see their links below).

www.localgovernmentaction.org/activists-guide/…framework/make-your…

www.etu.org.za

Lessons from the 1976 Soweto Uprisings

Challenging the Dominant Narrative about the Current Generation of Youth 

The 1976 Soweto Uprisings serve as a great example of the critical role young people have historically played in challenging the harsh and unjust conditions facing them and bringing about a democratic dispensation in South Africa. On 16 June 1976, young people across South Africa resolved to confront white domination, marking the end of submissiveness on the part of the black population of South Africa and the beginning of a new militancy in the struggle against apartheid. The current generation of young people in South Africa is typically described as lost, apathetic and passive among other things.

 It is crucial to develop an alternative narrative of young people in South Africa – one where despite the challenges of poverty, unemployment and crime youth grapple with daily, they remain actively engaged citizens. Over 20 years since the dawn of democracy South Africa still grapples with challenges systematic marginalisation and deprivation of the masses of our people. Years of apartheid’s overt and covert practices systematically and progressively produced a racially polarized society that was founded on deplorable inequality and ensured that the masses of our people were condemned to poverty.

Poor housing, inferior education, unfair and discriminatory labour practices, a biased judicial system and restrictions of movement, economic and political exclusion, racial and ethnic hostility, and spiritual repression adversely affected the black majority in South Africa. Steve Biko, Tsietsi Mashinini, Solomon Mahlangu and countless other young men and women all dedicated their youth to the revolutionary struggle against this draconian system of apartheid which sought to oppress and marginalise the masses of our people.

The dominant narrative about the current generation of youth in South Africa is that they are “the lost generation”, and that they are “the future”. There is a need to challenge and interrogate this characterization. I believe that it is grossly simplistic to characterize the current generation of South Africa’s youth as lost, apathetic and passive. In the same breath, it is problematic to describe the youth as the “future”.

With respect to the former characterization, I believe it is important to highlight that the current generation of young people in South Africa are actively contributing into the public realm. The emergence of youth-led social movements like #FeesMustFall and the #RhodesMustFall clearly indicate the important role young people continue to play in society. This disproves the notion that youth are generally passive and apathetic. Equally, it challenges the narrative that youth are “the future”.

Notwithstanding the challenges of unemployment, crime and poverty youth are in many respects, contributing positively towards building prosperous and thriving communities across South Africa. The narrative that youth are “the future” is problematic insofar as it seems to absolve the youth of their immediate responsibility of playing an active role in government, business and civil society now and not in the future.

 Perhaps there is a correlation between the tendency to describe the youth as lost and apathetic and their envisioned role in society. I wish to contend that the current narrative about youth in some way serves to perpetuate the oppression and marginalisation of the masses of our people. Youth constitute over 50% population in South Africa and as such ought to play a more influential role in decision-making structures within government, the private sector and civil society.

Karl Marx maintains that the ruling ideas are in every epoch the ideas of the ruling class. In this respect, one may be correct to assume that the dominant narrative about the current generation of youth in South Africa is in fact shaped by the ruling elite in this country. Interestingly, ruling elite in South Africa happens to be composed almost exclusively of old men; the predominantly old white male economic elite and the largely old black male political elite. The dominant narrative about youth in this country seems to suggest that there is a lack of interest on the part of the youth to play a meaningful role in the affairs of their communities and I argue that this is fundamentally flawed.

An important lesson that can be drawn from the 1976 Uprisings is that the youth in this respect played a leading role in waging battle against the exploitation and oppression of the masses of the people. The youth determined for themselves what issue needed to be addressed and how this issue should be addressed.  What the 1976 Uprisings should teach us as the current generation of youth is that we must assume leadership in addressing challenges facing us. Solutions to some of the most pressing challenges currently facing young people in South Africa essentially lie with the youth of this country. Youth must rise!!

Rammolotsi Sothoane is an International Relations graduate from the University of the Free State and a member of the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers network. He writes in his personal capacity.

The Future is Inevitable

The urgent need behind the Soweto Uprisings was the notion that a better future was inevitable. Young people across the country refused to be taught in Afrikaans. From there, a plan of action started to refute this. June 16 was definitely a turning point born out of a series of deliberate steps. As a result, the culminating protests were driven by small actions that sought to realise that future. In 2016 therefore, we must ask ourselves what does this spirit of ’76 look like in our time? What does our inevitable future look like?

In a country where the majority of the population are below the age of 35, one can’t help but wonder what are we doing with this potential? Youthfulness should be associated with energy and creativity. The youth voice should be prominent in media and shaping narratives around what it means to live in a free and democratic South Africa. However, this is not the case. As we’ve seen in the recent youth stats report released by StatsSA last month. The current situation for many young people looks grim. Primarily because many young people are still shackled by challenges inherited from our oppressive past. Many are paralysed into non-action because of the lack of transformation and access to opportunities or resources that could provide a much-needed push. But we do have options. We can choose to not be associated with narratives that associate being young with words like “lost” and “apathetic”. As Sizwe Maphindani, a member of the ACTIVATE! network, puts it, “We have no other alternative remaining for us as (black) youth in South Africa except activism.”

Imagine then if there was support for those young South Africans who are waking up every day to tackle these pressing challenges that are standing in the way towards this inevitable future. These young people aren’t unicorns. They do exist. For example, a network like ACTIVATE! Change Drivers has managed to connect more than 2000 youth from all corners of South Africa who are committed to the cause of a better South Africa. These young people are a new breed of leaders who are fearlessly saying, ‘our future is now’. Members of this network, Activators as they call themselves, manage to push for change through being connected with each other and growing their voice. The voices we should be hearing are of those young people who convened meetings in Vuwani with community leaders to find alternative learning spaces in that community when schools were being burnt. It is the young people who convened on Robben Island recently to interrogate the state of our democracy, to reflect on what they are doing in their communities to address the many challenges they see. It is that young man in Orange Farm, instead of joining protests against the municipality, he pointed to the Integrated Development Plan that had made allocation for the development of road infrastructure and changed the course of that conversation. This voice is the group of youth who will convene at the Jabavu Centre in Soweto to share their work and contribution towards keeping themselves and their government accountable.

“Each Activator has committed to a journey of service to the public good, working from within their own homes, communities and beyond. Many Activators run their own initiatives, many volunteer in support of others, and there are those who come from very harsh living conditions yet are dedicated to finding solutions to their community’s challenges. In a network whose membership currently stands at 2000, poised to grow beyond 5000, the collective impact is immeasurable. The knock-on impact of Activators engaging around issues, sharing their positivity, inspiring others to follow is profound. The innovative spirit that flows through the network inspiring young people to look at the old ways of doing things and to come up with new solutions to the issues is tangible.” CEO of ACTIVATE! Chris Meintjes explains the spirit of collective leadership that lies in this group of young South Africans.

At the heart of this push for change driven by youth, there is a magic that happens when young people from different backgrounds share a space and find ways of working together towards a common goal of transformation. There should be a drive amongst youth to build bridges of opportunity. We should be deliberate about the small actions that continue to build an alternative future. As Injairu Kulundu puts it, “we build an alternative future in small actions. We build it piece by piece. Until the recognition of that alternative future become unavoidable, until that future becomes inevitable”

The achievement of this inevitable future doesn’t mean that as young people we must sit and wait for its ‘coming’. We have a responsibility to stand up now and seek the change that we want to see. “What the 1976 Uprisings should teach us as the current generation of youth is that we must assume leadership in addressing challenges facing us. Solutions to some of the most pressing challenges currently facing young people in South Africa essentially lie with the youth of this country.”, says Rammolotsi Sothoane an International Relations Graduate from the University of the Free State and a member of the ACTIVATE! network.

Campaigns

Keeping a finger on the Activate pulse

The network is so vibrant and  ‘alive with possibilities’ that we have dedicated resources to keep (you) in touch with what’s hot in the network. These are some of the current campaigns and events.

#(YOU)thCan!

We have launched the #(YOU)thCan campaign to build on the Activator energy improving how government works in South Africa, making changes and VOTING! We’re working with Activators inspiring one another and other young people to vote this year and hold government accountable to the commitments they make. A huge amount of work is underway to build this campaign with partners, information packs and media support and profiling Activator voting champions and election observers.

Leaders are Readers

One of the campaigns we’ve grown from 2015 is the mobile library network. Activator Masiza Hlekwayo has been so passionate about books, reading and literacy that she is taking over this project. More details will be released soon. For now, please follow us on Facebook: Leaders are Readers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1514065102240933/

ACTIVATE! Network Unites Youth To Revive The Spirit Of 1976

The 1976 Soweto Uprising will forever be remembered as a turning point and a brave collective action by South African youth. Across the country, youth united in their struggle to make their voices, with the Soweto Uprisings as the most visible.

It’s been 40 years since that brave incident and South African youth continue to battle many challenges. However, unity and bravery seem to be missing in the fight against today’s battles.  As a result the youth is commonly described as “lost, apathetic, violent and unmotivated” among other things.  How did the narrative of South Africa’s youth change from being actively involved in the struggle against their oppression and exploitation to a passive, disengaged and lost generation, perceived as merely “problems to be solved”?

To explore how civic engagement and social participation among South Africa’s youth can be revived, network of young activists, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers will facilitate a gathering, the ACTIVATE! Youth Imbizo on Thursday, 16 June. Aimed at reflecting on South Africa’s democracy from an activist’s point of view, the gathering will be held at the Jabavu Skills Centre, Central Jabuvu in Soweto from 09h00 till 14h00.

ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is a network of more than 2000 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 serves as ACTIVATE! Change Drivers’ objective to create platforms for civic engagement in South African communities.

Communications Manager at ACTIVATE! Change Drivers’, Nelisa Ngqulana says in addition to facing challenges such as unemployment, young people have to deal with social ills like poverty, crime and restrictions to resources, which lead to social discontentment and ultimately political instability.

“With such conditions, it is very easy for our youth to be demotivated and resort to illegal or harmful ways of survival. ACTIVATE! Change Drivers’ role is to provide platforms for the youth to articulate their views in order to increase their impact on the social, economic and political dimensions of life. Our aim is to revive the spirit of 1976 and challenge the narrative that exists about young people. We equip youth who are active in driving change for the public good across the country with knowledge and skills to thrive in their respective social development efforts. We hope this Imbizo will achieve that objective,” adds Ngqulana.

Ngqulana further states that even though the government and some private companies are implementing strategies to empower the youth, it is important for young people to start talking about how they can meet those efforts halfway.

Since participants in the dialogue will be from various sectors of society, the expectation is that output emanating from dialogue will provide insight on how to enhance and encourage active citizenship and engagement as well as social participation among the youth to liberate their communities from social injustices.

Coordinator for the ACTIVATE! Youth Imbizo project, Lezerine Mashaba, says: “The aim of the Imbizo is not only to find solutions to address challenges that face our youth, but also to make a meaningful contribution to the national conversations around civic and political engagement among the youth.”

For more information and details on how you can participate or attend, please contact Bongi Ndlovu on 079 992 8823.

Under the umbrella theme, ‘Democracy in Action’, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers has facilitated similar Imbizos in four other provinces. On 05 April the Imbizo was held in KwaZulu Natal where ‘HIV/AIDS prevelance’ was discussed. In the Eastern Cape the Imbizo took place on 08 April and the dialogue was around ‘Abortion Stigma’. On 22 April the Imbizo was in Free State and it looked at ‘How civic engagement and social participation among South African youth can be enhanced’.  In North West on 06 May the Imbizo’s topic was ‘Land – What’s the plan for youth?’ The last Imbizo was held on 28 May at Robben Island and the topic of ‘Active citizenship by the youth’ was explored. The plan 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:

Nelisa Ngqulana

Communications Manager: ACTIVATE! Change Drivers

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

Cell: 073 817 8017

 

Stations: Innovate Revolution of Bright Minds

In most ACTIVATE! sessions, gatherings, Facebook pages, WhatsApp groups and even informal meetings, there’s always a question posed: “Why doesn’t ACTIVATE! opt to be a political party?” or a suggestion of “let’s rather be a political party”. These suggestions or questions are not normally based on a true sense of a political party, but are based on Activators’ immeasurable love and attachment to the network that they feel as Activators on the ground. They feel the programme should be a driver of national discourse. It is triggered by Activators valuing each other’s clarity of thought and their innovative solution to challenges facing young people on the ground. Some went as far as suggesting that the ACTIVATE! programme should be made a compulsory gap year program as it has capacity to sharpen or widen the mind of young people and planting the seed of patriotism.

Thembinkosi “Professor” Sithole, a 2013 Activator and a teacher by profession, thinks that the ACTIVATE! first year programme would be useful if it was a gap year course for all grade 12 graduates. “I feel it shouldn’t be just like an academic year at tertiary where you count modules you’ve got in the bag without guarantees what the end result (qualification) would give you. That gap year would be very useful if each person would state their goals then be given support on how to get started in working on those goals. For example some would like to start their own businesses, a step-by-step support can then be given on how to get paperwork for registration, proposals and the like done. So the year would be given to those who present clear goals for their future and for which ACTIVATE! can provide support”, he said.

Alex Khoza, 2013 Activator, Law graduate and one of founding participants of ACTIVATE! Community Development Course who Is known by Activators for his passion and love for youth engagements said that it must be compulsory for all grade 12 learners to go through the ACTIVATE! training programme like the Life Orientation subject. The subject could be titled “Good Citizenship”.

Using the same lenses management of ACTIVATE! responded appropriately by introducing  a project within the Network Connect portfolio called “Stations”, coordinated by Activator Nonkululeko Hlongwane. These stations are places where youth can meet and drive change. Nonkululeko was on a stations tour from the 2nd to 9th May 2016, to ignite a flame and passion of change to station heads as well as assessing the progress of stations around the country. In her visit to Free State the stations simply said that “Stations are the basic units of the ACTIVATE! Network and pillars of existence as they give life to network’s campaigns on the ground. They are for every young person who believes in the positive power of young people”. These stations will be headed by both Activators and non-Activators and this will fulfil many Activators wishes that such programs [as ACTIVATE!] are needed and necessary to any young person in the country. “Our greatest learnings come from connections, human contact, and dialogue. Every theory, formula, system, structure and invention has been influenced by human interaction”, explains Nonkululeko on the power of these stations. Nonkululeko says the stations are created to spark dialogue among young people on matters they feel passionate about. “The idea around stations was to encourage young people to create safe platforms of interaction and then guide and nurture an idea or thinking that develops in those spaces”, she added.

In the midst of violent protests around the country many Activators think that stations will breed a new form of innovative revolution were young people develop a culture of speaking about issues. Alex Khoza thinks that since ACTIVATE! stations are there to play a role in building responsible citizens. “They have potential to minimize the number of strikes and destroying of our resources”, he adds.

Stations will also play role in coming with solutions around the problems facing the country, particularly on education. Northwest stations manager, Activator Thabiso Motlakase said that North West will use these stations to plan thoroughly on taking some of these issues head-on. “We are using the stations as plenary platforms and we aim to open it for the afternoon classes for grade 12s, because currently we have been having Saturday classes for Maths and Science. We now plan to run it throughout the week and all the learners that need extra classes can visit the station after school or the library, depending on their arrangement with us.

The leaders in all stations are taking the leading role in making things happen in their communities. “I don’t feel as though I am leading the project. More than anything I am guided by these change drivers and we all deliver on the needs that arise in stations and all the decisions taken are informed by young people, just as all these stations are initiated and run by them”, remarked Hlongwane in appreciation of the amazing effort demonstrated by station heads in creating better conditions for their communities.

 

Transforming Digital Media

According to statistics by SEDA (Small Enterprise Development Agency), approximately 72% of micro-enterprises and 40% of small enterprises are owned by women. The number keeps increasing.

A number of female entrepreneurs have entered the Public Relations, Media and Digital Communications space over the last five years in South Africa. These female entrepreneurs’ small businesses have already shown remarkable achievement not just to their clients, but to lifestyle transformation of their employees and the economy. One of those few social entrepreneurs is the Change Driver, Nazareen Ebrahim, the Chief Editorial Officer of a digital media and communications company called Socially Acceptable.

Before opening Socially Acceptable, the Durban based social entrepreneur built a prolific career in mining, film, communications and broadcast media industries.  She has been involved in community work and created many business linkage opportunities for colleagues and mentees.  Lwazi Nongauza had a chat with Nazareen to find out more about her journey in driving change.

What inspired the idea to start Socially Acceptable?

The interest to build a business stemmed from a long held desire ever since I was little to build a legacy and inspire others. The choice to play in the Technology and digital space came out of a deep understanding of the industry and much work in it.

Briefly tell us about your business.

Socially Acceptable was started as a digital media and communications company.  Our mandate is to provide digital media management, strategy and media liaison for small and medium businesses in KZN. Through our current collaboration with IDEA, Durban Hub, Start-up Grind Durban and IT Varsity, we aim to build a culture of digital excellence in the province and to continually educate clients on digital media so they understand the value we provide.  

How does your business contribute to job creation and youth development?

Socially Acceptable team has two full time staff members. One is an 18-year old designer/developer and the other a 21-year old with no digital experience. This is a chance to up-skill and grow these individuals into entrepreneurs. The company might be fairly young, but we hope to employ many more young people who may not necessarily have the qualification or experience but show the required passion and appetite for learning. 
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt as a self-made entrepreneur?

The most valuable lesson I’ve learnt is that it’s all about teamwork. Your business is only successful because of its people. Without skilled, dedicated committed people, it’s difficult to output any deliverable, project or make clients happy. As a sole owner of the business doing everything and completing all duties, it makes it very difficult to keep the quality and value you promise to clients. Team is very important.  If you continue to work in the business and not on it and without help, one easily sets one’s self up for failure.

What is your entrepreneurial journey highlights?

Some of the highlights include: Winning the Minara Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneurship Competition, signing on clients who believed in the value of our service, building a credible portfolio of radio work through Lotus FM, SAFM, Radio Al-Ansaar and Channel Islam.

What is your secret to success as a digital media entrepreneur?

The secret to success is managing clients’ expectation and delivering when you say you will. I have learned this the very hard way. Product knowledge and industry trends are equally significant. Success in the digital media industry is also about staying on top of trends and the almost daily changes which happen across the globe.

What is your advice to up and coming digital media entrepreneurs?

Know your industry. Network to understand the players in the field and trends and always be true to what you offer. Don’t undervalue the service you offer even if clients don’t see it at first.  Ultimately be authentic about you who are, what your offer and the value you bring to your clients.

Where do you want to see your business 10 years from now? 

The business should have a further domestic and international presence. Right now, we are KZN based and would like to change that. We should also be impacting the African economy with digital solutions that best solve critical challenges facing our people. And finally, we should always have a strong link to community and mentoring young people to reach their potential with entrepreneurship.

Besides, running Socially Acceptable, business awareness radio show, How to make it in South Africa (on Radio Al Ansaar), television show Biz Today, on Deen TV, Ebrahim is also building a Business Corner at her local library. Two years after an informal launch, the corner was recently officially launched with many significant partners including SEDA, SEFA and NYDA. She is also an executive committee for a new Durban based organization called Independent Digital Excellence Association (IDEA).

Ebrahim believes in the Skills Transfer Principle. “A true leader is one who develops other people to become more powerful than him or her. Development of other people is important to me because I’ve always believed that each person has a greatness to live. If a person shows potential in their action and the will to succeed, then they should be given a chance to develop that talent and succeed. I will always invest in people if they show potential. I believe that there the more young people that can be developed, the better for our economy, future and community. We need to teach people to think critically and look for opportunity to develop that into viable ventures; not promote the culture of entitlement and put people in boxes”, she said.

Stories Competition finalist: Action Setaka

When I applied for the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers programme in 2012, I had a cocktail of expectations.  All  these  expectations  were  based  on  personal  development  that  had nothing to do with others or thoughts of meeting any person that may possess superior intellectual prowess which may surpass mine. Not that there is an element of narcissism in me, but it was just a passing thought caused by  confidence and motivation to prove myself in the midst of like­minded individuals.

There is a disturbing  and  fundamentally wrong mentality implanted in male species particularly approaching conferences  or seminars. Fellow men, before even exploring curriculum or content of an event, conference or the training, they marginally think about the beauty of female attendees.  In an extreme case they will search the names of attendees on emails attachments and search them on social sites to view how they look so that they may invest their emotions on them even before exploring their character. I am not a saint; at times I do fall for this filthy sin.

I arrived in Durban 2013 at 6:00am, anxious to meet crème dela crème of South African youth leadership, waiting at the Greyhound bus station I met a wonderful, elegant and gracious woman called Khonzeka Gxalatane and signs of a man got up with me. 

Later that day, around  1pm, I met a leader by the  name of  Mthoko Simelane. This young man had an overflowing fountain of wisdom, whom today is still one of my closet friends. He demonstrated a presidential character from the onset he directed everyone who attended the training to a relevant bus which was coordinated by a lady of staunch discipline, a paragon of virtue and a non­stopping voice of reason whom I later knew as my facilitator.

After our late lunch we had an introductory session, amongst all attendees there was this eloquent lady from Kwa Zulu Natal, Woodlands who had a captivating introduction. I recall vividly that she profoundly said in conclusion of her introduction.” My personal is my political, therefore my struggle is not about black or white, it’s about wrong or right.” This is dialectically correct utterance. As beautiful as she was I was perplexed about my emotions responds to this phenomenal woman whom every male species in the room was a victim of unavoidable infatuation I gathered this in “men’s only conversation” I was extremely inspired by the profundity of thought portrayed by this woman on both formal and informal conversation. At no point did I ever see a potential girlfriend, “my human training  package” or  anything that  may  awaken  my  “sin  of  being  a  man”  as  per patriarchal norm and standard.

We had a conversation and from that day to date, I’m always mesmerized by how every day I learn a thing or two about life from her. She always takes me to task at any subject. She is the epitome of a modern day woman she defies patriarchal psyche in all aspects and as a champion an activist on issues of woman emancipation, I found in her a sister and confidant. I call her a “safest wardrobe of my secrets”. 

On her birthday I summarized her impact on me as “My rainbow of happiness, the sister who clouds my scepticisms with hope, the seed and branch of my thoughts on women struggle. The genesis of our relations are founded on laughter, inspiration and thirst to change the world, you are the master key of my inner strength” This statement shrink our 3 years relations.

This epitome of modern day woman whom I frequently describe as “A walking galaxy of ideas”  established  many  innovative  initiative  to  address  and  advance  the  social upheaval of women this is contrary to olden days in African communities where women were  groomed  to  submit  to  their  husband,  where  they  were  groomed  to  behave  a certain  way  in  marriage.  The  meaning  of  the  future  for  women  revolved  and  still revolves  around  marriage  but  this  phenomenal  woman  challenged  and  continues  to challenge the status quo in all frontiers.

One of the bright minds Themba Vryman once wrote and accurately give us an angle or better view on Nonkululeko as a modern day woman by saying “Many of those who crossed passed with her never forget her, not because of her choice but because Nonkululeko defines what leadership is all about. 

Nonkululeko is a symbol of hope for many. Through her selfless desire to see justice and prosperity many lives have been changed by her. A very stern woman yet soft-hearted human being” in his concluding remarks this intelligent silver-tongued continues “Like a constellation star shining bright in the sky. Nonkululeko, too, is our constellation star.

Meeting Nonkululeko and other Activators I concluded that mankind especially in the development sector cannot compete but co­operate. It was wrong of me to have a narrow expectation about the Activate programme but this “modern day woman” and Activators taught me endless life lesson. 

We are a fortunate generation to lead and live in the same era with you Empress, Nonkululeko Portia Hlongwane.