Rape Culture is Every Black woman’s Nightmare

Black women live in a society that constantly reminds them that they are not human enough.  For every pain and violence against their bodies, society always finds an excuse of why it happened. We are constantly blamed for being raped, that it is our fault; we asked for it. No one sits and ask themselves how we manage to cope with all of this. Black women have wounds that will never heal because they are told to forgive and endure when they do not even get justice.

Justice to a Black woman is a foreign concept that seems far-fetched. Being a black woman means fighting for your life every day, living in fear of what might happen. Our homes are not safe, in the streets we are not safe. Either you are taught how to escape rape, taught how defend yourself when that time comes. No one tells rapists not to rape! Male privilege shields and protects men beyond our imagination. If a man rapes you, there is certainly something wrong with him psychologically, you were drunk or wore a short skirt so you asked for it. Men are never wrong. It is always a woman’s fault.

Rape culture is the normalisation of rape in our society against women, rape culture is violence against a woman’s body. Rape culture is when we say to a child “do not report it, it isan embarrassment to the family”. It is when we question the victim whether they are sure if they got raped or it was just rough sex. Rape culture is not only penetration but the undressing and sexual comments made by males when you pass by them or anywhere, when your boss feels the need to say something about your sexuality or how you dress. Rape culture is victim blaming. Rape culture is when we say to a married women he did not rape you, you are his wife therefore he is entitled to have sex with you. Rape culture is when we ask a victim whether she screamed or not? Rape culture is when we say your NO was not strong enough as if there is a measurement of how a no should be. Rape culture is the sexualisation of a woman’s body by society.

Black women have been silenced about rape, they have been blamed for all the pains that emerge from the rape culture and have been left to pick up their own broken pieces. When a woman has been raped, society tries to get smart about rape, ascribing rape to how she was dressed up, how drunk she was and the people she was with forgetting that at the crux of the matter is rape, lies consent. Women have been made to feel guilty of how they dress up, who they decide to associate themselves with and how they choose to have fun by the very same society that continues to view rape as a normal culture.

Part of the problem that women are faced with is when they voice out their problems and they get to hear people saying “but men get raped too”, that is rape culture because at that moment a person is making rape seem normal. We will continue to feel suffocated by rape as long as we still associate the struggle of fighting against rape to a certain gender, as long as we continue ripping each other apart and not coming together as one to fight this horrible giant called rape.

In our view rape culture can only end if males can stop supporting us only on Facebook or twitter but run their own campaigns that seek to end rape. Rape culture can end the day women would believe another women when she says that she has been raped with a premise that “Guilty until proven innocent”. Rape culture can end when we stop making women feel ashamed for reporting rape because police men are throwing comments as to how the women was dressed up. Rape culture will end when society stops teaching males that a woman’s body is their property to own and a woman is there to satisfy men sexually. Rape culture will stop when society stopping justifying men for their brutality against women bodies. Rape culture will end the day we dismantle patriarchy.

WE ARE FRUSTRATED AND DYING BECAUSE OF RAPE CULTURE…WE ARE SUFFOCATING BECAUSE OF PATRIACHY.

Youth Initiative Changes Lives in Limpopo

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”- Martin Luther King, Jr.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle

Those were some of the common used quotes at the” My Career My Choice exhibition event took place on Wednesday, 17th August 2016 at the Maraba Tribal Authority Offices in Limpopo. The well-attended exhibition is the brainchild of the Limpopo activist and community leader, Khomotso Komape who runs the Aganang Youth Organization.

The event’s main objectives included sharing academic opportunities, career paths and linking young people to potential study donors and employers.

Komape, who also organised the exhibition, said the Aganang Youth Structure’s decision to host the event during the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Women’s March was informed by its belief that access to quality education and resources, and doing away with demeaning pass laws were not the only major demands of those who staged the massive march.

“The Youth Structure has realised that most Grade 12 learners do not apply for their tertiary studies timeously or readily decide which career paths they want to pursue. Unlike in the past, prejudicial pass laws were limiting our people from moving around freely on their land including the lack of education and access to resources. These factors limited our people from fulfilling their dreams”, explained Komape.

The event was supported by the Department of Social Development and one of South Africa’s leading banks, Nedbank. National, provincial and regional government departments, academic institution and prominent like Department of Labour, Wholesale and Retail SETA,Construction SETA, Department of Health, Zurel Bros College, National Youth Development Agency, Service SETA, Capricorn District Municipality and Provincial government of Limpopo, CTU College, Limpopo Premiers office in Youth directorates were among some of the participating organisations.

Komape said, “Aganang Youth Structure is very impressed with feedback and all our strategic stakeholders’ collaboration in making sure that this career exhibition happens.  This massive student turnout is a clear indication that our young people and communities really need educational empowerment projects like this”.

He further said that more similar Aganang Youth Structure community and youth development programs will soon be rolled out in the Limpopo Province.  

The My Career My Choice career exhibition concept seems to have resonated with many globally acclaimed South Africans; outgoing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela being one of them.  While speaking at the Top Women Conference recently held at Emperor’s Palace, Madonsela lamented that the South African society is neither willing nor ready to give room for women to lead.

“Gender equality is an extension of Ubuntu. The essence of Ubuntu is to look after the welfare of every member of the group, to optimise the well-being of the entire group. A woman’s place should be wherever she chooses to be. Embracing gender equality ensures that resources are harnessed successfully to the benefit of society. The ideally 50:50 concept which is intended to give is equal opportunity for women and men to engage in decision making should not just there, as an idea but serious polities that will make that happen must enforced.” said Madonsela.

African Union leader, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Geraldine Frazer-Moleketi, Rashida Manjoo, and Judge Navi Pillay are some of the many prominent figures who issued a stern warning to all patriarchal sectors of society who don’t want to transform.  


Komape also briefly explained the long term benefit for companies who wished to support Aganang Youth Structure. “This project may be led by a youth organization but that doesn’t mean civil society, advocacy organisations, government departments and the private sector are not welcome to contribute. Their contribution will benefit the high school learners that are part of this initiative” he said.

He also assured all stakeholders and interested parties that Aganang Youth Structure will soon be rolled out Limpopo provinces.  Dates, times, venues and other logistical issues for the next events are yet to be confirmed.

Members of the public who are interested in supporting Aganang Youth Structure initiatives are encouraged to contact Khomotso Komape on 071 286 4587 / 071 214 1441 or contact the organization via email on aganangyouthstructure@gmail.com or aganangyouthstructure@yahoo.com  

Including social media platforms such as the Facebook page: Aganang Youth Structure, Instagram: aganangys, Twitter: @Aganang Youth Forum and Pintrest: AGANANG youth structure


 

Women Who Win In Educating

Introduce yourself

My name is Nolwazi Ntshingila (31). I’m a 2013 Activator from KZN – Durban, Umlazi.

What is your field of passion/interest?

I’m passionate about community development, women empowerment & literacy.

What are you doing to drive change?

I’m involved in various projects in my community and surrounding rural areas.

This year I joined Activator Voro Ngobozana as the Donate a School Bag Campaign KZN Coordinator, where we host concerts and other events to collect school bags and distribute them amongst the disadvantaged communities in our respective provinces.

I have been part of the MISA union National Women’s Forum Committee since 2013. We host annual events in our respective provinces – Girl/Boy Child at Work, Beauty and the Beast (all expenses paid matric dance for a boy/girl from a disadvantaged home who is a high achiever at school) and MISA Woman of the Year.

Every year on Women’s Day, I host the Loxion High Tea in my township (Umlazi)  with the aim to pamper all the hard working women in the community that don’t have the luxury of attending Women’s Day events in town due to financial constraints.

I also organise blood drives at my workplace (since 2012) as a Blood Controller for the SANBS. On 3 August 2016, as part of the ACTIVATE! Making Local Government Work campaign, I was one of the Observers at the Local Government elections and my role was to ensure free and fair elections in my ward. And of course, I’m an Activator.

How has ACTIVATE! Supported you in driving that change?

From where I was in 2013 when I first joined ACTIVATE! to where I am right now has been through ACTIVATE! teachings and connections. I have become more confident in myself and the work that I do. ACTIVATE! gave me the tools to unleash my potential and spread my wings.  

Acknowledging August as women’s month, what does it mean to be a woman in leadership in South Africa today?

Gender diversity is still big a challenge in South Africa.  As a young woman, working in a male dominated industry is a daily struggle on its own where decision and opinions made by female leaders are disregarded. Women empowerment has been and still is mere lip service, but we as women need to stick together and fight all the processes that oppress us. Businesses need to empower more women to step up and be counted and included for their talent and skills and what they can bring to the business when they are placed in high-level positions.One of the key problems for women taking up leadership positions is that we are expected to earn respect when we are appointed, whereas men get respected because they have been appointed and that is frustrating. Work policies should be favourable to both male and female employees in terms of work and family commitments. Until men realise that being a woman doesn’t make you any less capable, we still have a long way to go as a country.

What should be the priority in setting the agenda for South Africa in the next 5 years?

Politics and economic growth should be the priority in setting the agenda for this country in the next 5 years. Whether we like it or not, politics affects us one way or another. Politics affect the country’s economy, and the state of our country’s economy determines our future as citizens because political instability affects economic growth through physical and human capital accumulation.

How do you motivate yourself?

I motivate myself by reading. Reading exposes you to a world of imagination, showing you that nothing is impossible in this world.

Final comments?

Don’t let the fear stop you and don’t let obstacles deter you. Nothing is impossible, as long as you put your mind and heart to it.


 

Activator Empowering The Youth Through Literacy

Thando Mkoyi, a self-motivated literacy specialist and Activator based in Khayelitsha, hosted yet another eye-opening Sinovuyo Township Reads workshop on literacy at the Khayelitsha Site B library on Saturday, August 20.

The event which was filled to capacity by Khayelitsha residents included- amongst others- children and parents of all ages. The event was to bring together a community faced by a growing number of learners dropping out of school due to inabilities to read and write.

“We are here to cross fertilise and to find some alternative methods on how we can get our township reading”, says Mkoyi, “Promoting the usage of our mother tongue languages and creating inclusive spaces for our children and community to read and be accountable to its own development.”

Ekukhanyeni’s Public Primary School 11-year old Oyisa Ndilele says “Ever since I joined this program I have drastically improved on my reading and writing skills at school, as a result I now read my home language [isiXhosa] with confidence and understanding.”

“I’m also part of an organisation called Nali-Bali (here is a story) which works hand-in-hand with Sinovuyo Township Reads. Nali-Bali keeps me grounded and focused as a young promising graduate”, adds Oyisa.

20-years’ service provider at the Khayelitsha library, Lindi Dyantyi, says “The importance of reading to our children helps develop verbal abilities in expressing feelings. Because I support initiatives that elevates a black child, I make sure that even learners who do not have money to make book copies at the library are assisted. I do this out of my own pocket at times.”

Delivering his message for the day, workshop organiser Thando Mkoyi said “Only 5% of children are being read to, while 17% are active readers.” He said this is tantamount to the number of learners that makes it in tertiary these days, if one gets lucky.

Mkoyi tasked Early Childhood Development Centres (ECD’s) practitioners to create a culture centred foundation phase for learners to learn to read and write at an early age. “One of the challenges we are facing is that we do all what we can at crèche, if the parents at home will not enforce their children to practise what was learnt, these children will not succeed at all if they will rely on us only”, said ECD practitioner Nosandile Mazomba.

Language Activist, Vuyisile Fefeza said that reading improves concentration and is fun if it is understandable. He added that even when one listens to the radio, IsiXhosa speaking presenters from the popular township community radio station Zibonele FM tend to mix their mother tongue with English. “ That to me doesn’t sit well because it is not like these people cannot read, write and speak their mother tongue fluently, it is because they want to fit in these so called cool circles of model-C learners”, he adds.

“The Vukani Newspaper, which is a community paper, has sections written in English, whereas English readers get their newspapers strictly in English with no compromise. Whose interests are we serving if our own community paper cannot address us in our own mother tongue?” asked Fefeza.

Cape Town TV presenter and Radio personality Doctor April, popularly known as “Mphathiswa” (Minister) said “I’m here today to give support to my fellow Activator and long- time friend in this initiative that seeks to build our communities for the better.You would remember that Khayelitsha is mostly known for its high level of crime, which in most cases the root cause of this is the continuous drop-out of black children from school because they cannot cope well.”

“Why is it that there are less children of colour that dropout from school? It is because they are able to express themselves in their mother tongue everywhere they go from an early age.”

“English is the language they use to communicate at home, it is also the language that is written in most textbooks at schools and is still the medium of instruction for everyone” added April.

However, multilingual professional storyteller Xolisa Guzula emphasised on a united front approach to tackle the literacy problem facing communities. Guzula encouraged children and parents to form relationships that are careering based and motivated.

“Parents should be curious to know what their children learn at school on a daily basis and visit the schools during the year, not only when a child fails a subject and only then interest is shown, it’s too late.” concluded  enthusiastic Guzula.

NW Activator Vows To Lead SA To Real Freedom

“As long as many of our people still live in utter poverty, as long as children still live under plastic covers, as long as many of our people are still without jobs, no South African should rest and wallow in the joy of freedom.”

“It is not our diversity which divides us; it is not our ethnicity or religion or culture that divides us. Since we have achieved our freedom, there can only be one division amongst us: between those who cherish democracy and those who do not.”

In a bid to keep those and more values of South Africa’s first black democratic elected president, Nelson Mandela, North West Activator Thabiso Motlakase and dozens of young people hosted a deepening democracy debate in Schweizer-Reneke in the Ipelegeng Community Centre during election period.

The Schweizer-Reneke panelist debate saw political parties like the African National Congress (ANC), Forum for Service Delivery (S4SD) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)  as they were trying all they could to lure votes from attendees while the Democratic Alliance (DA), the Congress of the People (COPE) and the African People Convention (APC) dramatically pulled out at the last minute.

The Schweizer-Reneke debate is the brainchild of social literacy and life skills training organization, Mamusa Library Book Club which is led by Tena Kgaswane. The main objective of the Mamusa Book Club is to give a platform and voice to youth who make local government work.  

The socio-political navigation strategy which was used by event organizers afforded community members an opportunity to interrogate political parties’ realistic governance plans (as articulated in their manifestos) that speak to immediate basic community needs and the implementation strategy that is in line with the National Development Plan: 2030 vision. The robust discussion also integrated political parties’ ideologies on supporting committed youth leadership structures that seek to influence progressive socio-economic high standards.

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

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

Motlakase lamented opportunistic political parties who only take young people serious during election season and neglect them once they are in power. “Gone are those days where those who can shout unrealistic political slogans are guaranteed votes.  So that means all political parties need to have do-able manifestos that speak to people’s needs, not mere rhetoric that rubber stamp selected constituency egos”, he said.

He also rebukes elders who keep on insulting youth intellectual capacity. “The loosely used phrase ‘lost generation’ is one of many age-gap syndromes that need to be addressed. Any society that describes young people as careless and useless needs to help physiological more those it deems lost,” said Motlakase 

Motlakase cautioned all South Africans (young and old) to be aware of politicians’ desperate campaigns to divide and rules deceits tactics. Quoting the National Development Plan, the community development activist said that despite our political ideological differences, South Africans are duty bound to always use national legislative guideline documents that will move the country forward. “Our vision is a society where opportunity is not determined by race or birthright; where citizens accept that they have both rights and responsibilities. Most critically, we seek a united, prosperous, non-racial, non-sexist, and democratic South Africa.

All participants receive a DVD copy of all talks and a range of selected articles and reference books that include The National Development Plan, The National Youth Policy, and the Municipal Councilors Handbook.

Motlakase, his colleagues at Mamusa Library Book Club, and Conversation with Men programs will soon be rolled out through the North West province. Mamusa Library Book Club has not yet confirmed the dates, venues, and other logistical issues for future events. All they were willing to confirm is that the following debate topics will be around ways of fixing the South African education system.

Public members who want to participate or are interested in supporting the initiative are encouraged to contact Thabiso Motlakase on motlakase@hotmail.com or 073 750 9221. Alternative communication social platform to follow Twitter: @mamusabookclub or Mamusa Library Book Club on Facebook.


 

Lets Do It For The Girls

Statistics vary when highlighting the number of young girls whose lack of access to sanitary pads lead them to missing school and therefore receiving a different standard of education to their male counterparts. According to UNICEF 1 in 10 school-age African girls do not attend school during menstruation, or drop out at puberty because of the lack of clean and private sanitation facilities in schools.  . Others,  such as those whose protest interrupted Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi at the International AIDS conference say that “7 million girls” miss school each month because they don’t have access to or money for sanitary products.

 

The statistics are staggering and Activators across the country believe that change begins with them. They know that girls need all the support possible to stay in school and they are dedicated to assisting in the best way they can.

Activator Karabo Monatisi is proving that through active citizenship, young women across the Western Cape can attain the same level of education as their male counterparts and that nothing should hinder their journey to success, especially not their monthly menstruation.

“A few years ago I was encouraged by a story I read on Ground Up about a girl who didn’t have money for pads and had to use rags and newspaper. I realised that I needed to start making a change. We did research within the community on why girls were dropping out of school and found out that for many of them it was because of their menstruation. They would be too embarrassed to go to school because they simply could not afford sanitary pads”, says Karabo.

32-year-old Karabo from the Western Cape then launched the Sanitary Pad Campaign in 2013. Since then, the movement has collected and distributed close to 2200 sanitary packs to learners, some of which were distributed to Treatment Action Campaign members and to youth at the Site-B Youth Clinic.

“Since 2013, we have reached 800 young women, excluding the TAC and Site-B Youth Clinic youth.”

The Sanitary Pad Campaign is self-funded and collects sanitary pads through connecting with other youth who are motivated to preserve the dignity of young women.

Supporters like the University of Cape Town students who reside at the Graca Machel Hall Residence. Niyanda Maseti, the Social Outreach Representative at the residence reached out to Karabo and the campaign’s team via email saying that they had started a pad drive in their residence and they found the Sanitary Pad Campaign online and added that they were inspired by their commitment.

“…the impact you have in the society made me decide to donate these pads to your campaign.”

Karabo says that the impact of the Sanitary Pads Campaign does not end by donating pads to youth in need, but also to shift perceptions and how older and younger men talk about the issue of menstruation.

“We also work with young people and have separate round table discussions with girls and boys and talk about issues affecting them; health issues like menstruation and stereotypes. With boys we make them understand why girls have to go through the menstruation process. We then put the two groups together so that they can engage with each other. We want the youth to influence policymakers and ensure that pads are available in schools like condoms are.”

As commendable as the actions of Karabo and the Sanitary Pads Campaign members are, their enthusiasm and dedication to the upliftment of young women is echoed nationally through the ACTIVATE! network.

Fellow Activator from the Northern Cape, 27-year-old Pelonomi Tetem is also committed to change from within.

Currently volunteering at Kgatelopele Youth Information Centre, Pelonomi, says that she was originally driven to collect sanitary pads in her area after working with youth in the area.

“I live in Daniëlskuil, a town in the Northern Cape and most of the youth I feel don’t know their purpose. I want to give them, especially the young girls in my area, the opportunity to learn more about themselves. As a field worker at a youth centre in my community I assist them in mobilising youth to come to the youth centre where we host dialogues and workshops regarding issues that affect them. We also work in schools with personal development, and get sanitary pad donations.”

Activator, Matseleng Freda Moseneke from Rustenburg, launched Let’s Do It For The Girls campaign that focuses on one-on-one facilitations with Grade 6 and 7 youth at primary schools, focusing on sexual health, the importance of making good decisions, and any issues or hardships they are facing in their lives. Freda also hosts a sanitary pad drive across her community and then donates what she collects by reaching out to schools and asking them which pupils don’t have parents or are really struggling financially.

“Since launching the campaign we have reached out to close to 100 youth from Rustenburg and surrounding areas. Our aim is to bring back the dignity and to ensure that girls receive the same level of education as boys.”  

To contribute, please contact:

 

  • Karabo Monatisi – 074 930 7200
  • Pelonomi Tetem – 071 930 5348
  • Matseleng Freda Moseneke 071 000 4211

 

                                                                                                                                                                                      

Image from she28campaign

Kim’s Quest To Dismantle Patriarchy

Introduce yourself

Hello! My name is Kim Windvogel and I am a 25 year old feminist 2016 and an Activator based in the Western Cape.

What is your field of passion/interest?

I am a feminist and I believe in the empowerment of youth to drive change in this country, where 66% of the population fall under the age of 35.

What are you doing to drive change?

I run an organisation with 2 other extremely dynamic womxn of colour: Kelly Koopman and Loren Loubser called FEMME – Freedom of Education Motivates Empowerment. We believe students need an alternative educational structure that encourages creative, interactive learning and focuses on the needs of the student.

How has ACTIVATE! Supported you in driving that change?

ACTIVATE! is a very emotionally and mentally taxing programme. If you are ever a part of ACTIVATE! you need to trust the process and completely immerse yourself in the workshops. It’s like with every module I feel my body and mind growing stronger and stronger. ACTIVATE! puts you into contact with like-minded people and challenges you to think about things critically and then to structure those thoughts to come to your own, better understanding.

Acknowledging August as women’s month, what does it mean to be a woman in leadership in South Africa today?

It means not merely filling leadership positions, but changing the narrative of patriarchy and to use your voice for the womxn and feminist agenda.

What should be the priority in setting the agenda for South Africa in the next 5 years?

Education that is not prejudiced and does not continue to push the agenda of the previous regime. Education that empowers our learners to understand their histories. Restructuring what food security means by distributing our award-winning South African produce to South Africans, not exporting it for profit. Dismantling the societal constructs (Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy – bell hooks) that prohibit people from growing and freely existing.

How do you motivate yourself?

I remind myself where my people come from and how far we still have to go. This means constantly opening wounds and being cognisant of the injustices we face as people-, and womxn of colour.

Final comments?

“Like the kings in the past who forced their sons to watch as they would perform the ritual of beheading the criminals, I am forced to look at the oppression of my people, womxn and not turn my head or even blink. I have to be strong. Not for my father, but for my mothers and my daughters”

 Those who have voices that people listen to, it is not enough to ignore what is going on in the world and how it is a system of oppression that keeps society ill-informed to its doings so that it can continue the oppression of marginalised groups. It is not enough to turn away. We need to challenge and sometimes we need to take ourselves to places that seem too dark to process in order for humanity to heal itself and to dismantle the patriarchy.

INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY

Picture by: Action2015

International Youth Day gives us the opportunity to celebrate the powerful force that is Youth in the development of our world. The statistics show that youth represent the broadest representative demographic in population figures. Established firms that are mass consumer oriented direct their marketing to ensure that young people are attracted to their products and services. While market trends and analysis highlight young people as a notable consumer, the statistics with regards to economic participation in production and service rendering are quite discouraging.

Many of our nations, while afloat, are contracted with regards to economic opportunities. Other nations are failing to survive, and rely on limited means of trade with the world to remain afloat. Thus their industry is dependent on one sector with little to no room for the emergence of youth. Experience is often used as the gatekeeper for the entry of new blood into these entities, thus keeping a monopoly hold on the demographic that will get access to the fruits of the establishment.

These realities would very easily discourage many into the abyss of thought that there is no way out for the youth of today. For others, it is a ticket to rebellion and anarchy in the name of attaining a form of freedom without definition. However, there is a path to which our generation is called which requires the eyes and ears to be attentive to the wisdom of time. This can be found in the simple word, Vision.

Vision, in this context, refers to the perceived future/outcome of our efforts. While we have many plans of action, the question still remains, what kind of country, region and world do we intend on leaving for the next generation?  Are we going to leave them with the same options we had to choose from among, or are we going to take the initiative to explore beyond the immediate possibilities and perceived limitations which we have been programmed to believe that they are immovable?

In my experience in the world of diplomacy and youth advocacy, I have seen how the youth voice has been given pacifiers to deter the masses from seeking to go beyond the boundaries set by tradition for the maintenance of perceived order and governability. It has become as good as a caged hamster in a cage running against the momentum of the wheel in the hope of overcoming the momentum. The unfortunate truth is that this momentum never turns in favour of the hamster. It only tires the poor animal until it falls off. Even so, passive acceptance of our generation’s fate being unchangeable and dooming youth diplomacy to conferences and retreats that end with the same language documents is going to leave us apathetic and derailed from the task of uplifting our people.

It is therefore with this, that I challenge the youth leaders of this network and across the spectrum to choose to think differently about the bureaucracy which we are inheriting. Let us understand its science and limitations. Let us engage the world and its mathematical equations. Let us critically assess the trends of our culture and put in the work needed to ensure that we can ensure a supply for the demand of human evolution as the population figures continue to grow. Let us bear in mind the fact that principle trade traditions that saw the pillaging of nations for the benefit of others by form of conquest and unscrupulous diplomacy has only yielded a cycle of events that keep repeating themselves in different forms. Let us be the generation that decides that this cycle stops with us.

When approaching sustainable development, let us envision our role as the generation that embraces the true spirit of globalization where national interest doesn’t trump humanity’s interest. Let us be the generation that seeks to embrace the principles of value added diplomacy, where our nations seek to trade and interact on the premise of adding value to the counterpart being engaged. This approach to diplomacy is a quintessential start to the ensuring of a world where sustainable trade relations can be established. It also ensures that the value of youth innovation and evolution of the culture is not seen as a threat, but rather as an addition to the plethora of the nation’s treasure to integrate into the commonwealth of humanity.

I leave you with the words of the father of my nation, the late great Nelson Mandela who said, “It always seems impossible until it is done.”  

Happy International Youth Day

Bongani Gets A Nod For YALI

My name is Bongani Uhuru KaHlatshwayo, I am a 23-year-old from Matlosana, Klerksdorp in the North West.  I joined ACTIVATE! In 2013.

What is your field of passion/interest?

I’m passionate about community development, with a specific focus on youth development and educational development and equally – I love politics.

What are you doing to drive change?

To drive change, I create opportunities for young people in the education and entrepreneurial sectors, through sharing information such as bursaries and funding opportunities, through hosting developmental spaces such as seminars and dialogue sessions. I mentor a couple of young people in my town.

How has ACTIVATE! supported you in driving that change?

This is close to home, because I joined ACTIVATE! after I left the North West University while pursuing my studies in Political Sciences and International Relations. Within a year of being an activator, ACTIVATE! entrusted me with the responsibility of organising an engagement session (dialogue platform) in my province. This opportunity exposed me to a larger number of associates and stakeholders around me. Through being the Connector, I have work experience to reference when I apply for new opportunities. ACTIVATE! still continues to support me through the local stations and the Mobile Library initiatives, to which I’m a champion for. I have so much to mention, but I think the mentioned will do justice and I’m really grateful for the support.

Let’s talk about Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). What is the programme about?

Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) was launched by President of the United States Barack Obama as a signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. The need to invest in grooming strong, results-oriented leaders comes out of the statistics: nearly 1 in 3 Africans are between the ages of 10 and 24, and approximately 60% of Africa’s total population is below the age of 35.

YALI promotes three models designed to identify and empower young leaders: the YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship, YALI Network, and now the establishment of Regional Leadership Centers across Africa- which I will be attending.

How did you get selected?

Activator Victor Seshoka inspired me to apply and I applied for their 2nd cohort- I didn’t make it through. I skipped the 3rd application intake and applied for their 4th intake with reviewed essay answers and I made it to the interview phase, where we spent about 15 minutes on the conversation. Three weeks later, I got a confirmation email that I have been selected.

What are your expectations of the outcome of the Initiative and what do you hope to bring home to your community?

I selected the Public Administration and Governance module, due to my interest in politics, so I want to learn from things from a regional and continental perspective and also share my knowledge with fellow Southern African Development Community participants and be able to create networks that cut across our region. I hope to bring more information and knowledge and create relevant spaces for young people in my district who couldn’t be part of the programme and create partnerships with local stakeholders and create innovative and sustainable ways to develop Matlosana and hopefully the rest of South Africa.

As a leader, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’d be having my Masters in International Relations and a Law degree, which I’ll be starting next year.-Moreover, I would have launched the 1st Matlosana Youth Development Hub in Klerksdorp- married I hope(lol) and serving at the South African Embassy to China.  

Where do you see South Africa in the next 5 years?

SA would have reviewed its constitution and made amendments and it would be having more entrepreneurs and our economy would be back at being number 1 in Africa and also competing positively in the global economy  

Final comments…

My mentor normally says “Young people can progress from poverty to prosperity, provided they prepared to pay the price of purpose”. Through YALI,  and over the price paid, I wish to see more change in myself, my community and the rest of the spaces in which I am involved with, after all, if I don’t provide leadership, who should?

Opinion: Much Talk About A Coalition

It’s rather unusual and somewhat bizarre, to say the least, that in the post-apartheid South Africa for the first time, the ruling party has to beg for attention in a coalition with parties it deemed shenanigans due to size et al. 

Well, the reality is that whether our elders like it or not, the political landscape in the country has dramatically changed. Smell the coffee. 

The current power sharing coalition in major cities in SA can be attributed to dismal failure of the African National Congress (ANC) to win majority and form Government without the smaller, ‘mickey-mouse’ parties. 

The ANC, Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are now at the centre of power sharing coalition post 2016 LGE. The platinum query is whether or not the power sharing coalition will be of positive value to the communities in the affected municipalities? 

The setback of power sharing coalition will, among other things, include weaker or a less decisive Government (confused Government). It may be difficult for political control to be implemented when the DA, ANC and EFF are all involved. 

This is because despite the differences in percentages, and in respect of the outcome of local Government elections and the total number of seats each party secured, all political parties (DA, EFF and ANC) expected to trot fairly and equally. 

This could be improbable given the nature of politics and may result in great deal of instability within Government.

However, for peacekeeping sake, there must be an effective way to manage conflict and dispute in order for coalition partnership to survive; precisely at the Nelson Mandela Bay, City of Tshwane and City of Johannesburg. 

The same applies for smaller municipalities such as those in predominantly poor rural communities such as Thabazimbi, Mookgopong, Lephalale and Mokopane et al. One may argue that coalition Government may work better since the political parties join together to form a united front while retaining their unique and somewhat intellectual ideologies. It may however, also prove to be difficult to achieve true unity between desperate parties. 

From a distance, we may predict that the conflicting ideologies will be the source of internal conflicts and disputes that will eventually disturb the local Government service machinery. In these circumstances, political parties in coalition will have no choice but to often compromise their ideologies in order to meet at common ground for public policy. E.g. DA, ANC & EFF are most likely not to agree on land policy and nationalisation of mines.  Needless to say,  it may be suicidal for smaller parties to enter into power sharing coalition without proper political guidance. Nonetheless, the power sharing coalition may greatly benefit the communities in that the undemocratic or controversial legislation has considerably less chance of being passed because of greater scrutiny over public policy. 

We await with bated breath for the promised services. The time for action is Now! 

Koketso Marishane writes as a concerned citizen.


Young Leader Determined To Align SA With Developed states

It is of utmost importance for South Africa, as a developing state, to invest in youth development and adopt tactics of international standards.  Koketso Marishane, a social activist from Ga-Marishane in Limpopo, understands this importance. He has been working tirelessly creating alliances with other countries to seek development opportunities for young people in his community. As a result, ten of his mentees have been granted opportunities to partake in study programmes in countries like Russia, India and Germany.

The programmes are jointly facilitated by The Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation, The Special Commonwealth Assistance for Africa and The Technical Cooperation of Colombo Plan Scheme. Participants have broad options available to them in the fields of Information and Communications Technology, Management Studies, Rural Development Studies, Engineering and Political Science.

Marishane is a member of the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers network and, therefore, is committed and well equipped to drive change in his community. 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 Network connects these young change makers and equips them with necessary skills and resources to thrive in their respective social development initiatives.

With a vision that reaches beyond the borders of this country, Marishane believes that South Africa can immensely thrive if it models its socio-economic solutions to those of developed countries. “Most developed countries have always placed their youth at the forefront of development. It is crucial for South Africa to put most of our investment in youth. This will inspire them to adopt a culture of learning and then implement their knowledge and skills towards becoming well-rounded adults that will ensure the wellbeing of this country,” he says.

In 2015, while taking part in one of ACTIVATE! Change Drivers’ exercises, Marishane realised that a lot of South African youth live in environments that that deprives them of what life has to offer outside their confines. He felt compelled to start creating international networks with the aim of seeking global opportunities for the youth in his community. “I wanted to enforce the spirit of global citizenry to young people. Fortunately, my efforts were gladly supported by a Limpopo based multi-stakeholder forum with interests in youth development and my aims were fulfilled.”

In addition to fully paid diligent training at internationally acclaimed learning institutions, Marishane’s mentees will be exposed to global development systems. His next move is to encourage them to use their new skills and knowledge to further develop their own communities.  

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


PRESS RELEASE: Young Observers Report Back On Elections

According to observations made by members of ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, the 2016 Municipal Elections were not short of mishaps, despite systems in place to ensure a smooth running of the process. As part of its nationwide campaign to guide young people in making local government work, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers encouraged some of its members to become observers at this year’s elections.

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 Network connects these young change makers and equips them with necessary skills and resources to thrive in their respective social development initiatives.

Over 80 Activators observed the elections at different voting stations all over the country. As observers, their role was to keep an eye on voting procedures to ensure that they are transparent, free and fair. The Activators reported a number of incidents that tampered with the election process:

Bad time-keeping

  • A voting station in Cosmo City (Ward 100), Gauteng was still not open by 07h45.

  • Another one in Auckland Park (Ward 58) also in Gauteng closed by 16h00 and started counting. Voting stations were supposed to close doors at 19h00.

  • By 07h38 there were still no ballot papers at a voting station in Zondi 2 (Ward 45), Soweto, Gauteng.

Miscommunication from IEC

  • Some observers in Free State did not receive their bibs and accreditation from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) at the briefings even though emails stated that they would. As a result some did not participate.

  • Observer briefing dates kept changing at the last minute and IEC officials failed to pitch at a scheduled briefing session in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

 

Misunderstandings

  • Even some IEC representatives were misinformed. A presiding officer in Mankweng (Ward 31), Limpopo was not sure of the correct voting procedures and kept asking the observer for assistance.

  • Due to misunderstandings some voters voted for more than one political parties and ward councilors in Kagiso EXT 12 (Ward 13), Gauteng.

Violence and safety

  • An observer in Mankweng (Ward 30), Limpopo was told to leave the voting station before the counting began and threatened with violence. A physical fight occurred at the same station and there was only one police officer available to intervene.

  • In Ntuzuma (Ward 43), KwaZulu-Natal, a political party representative handed ballot papers to voters before they got to the voting booths, which led to a violent fight.

Disruptions during the counting process

  • In Free State, an observer had to keep recounting the votes until it was 03h00 in the morning because representatives of a certain political party kept on disrupting the process.

  • A similar incident occurred in Mpumalanga because representatives of political parties disregarded the rules of the IEC.

 

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

 

Actively changing tomorrow

Looking through history books we see that young people who went into politics were a select few who could be easily manipulated to push the agendas of the older generations; they were used as political pawns in someone else’s game. The desire to run for office for young people in many parts of the world was dead; youth became apathetic, and didn’t care much for politics.

If given enough opportunity how big of an impact would the youth have if they were given an opportunity to run for office? It can’t be disputed that young people are radical in their thinking and approach when bringing new ideas to the fore, this is exactly what brings about the change that South Africa currently needs. “Leaders know the agenda but there is not enough space for them to drive transformation,” Rudzani Mofamate, a ACTIVATE! network member.

Thamsi Dambuza, a member of the ACTIVATE! network also shares, “It’s great seeing more and more young people running for elections. Currently, South Africa needs young minds that can help develop our country.”  

She further adds that it is challenge the youth need to take up. “They should not enter the political space just as a voter but they should enter as candidates rallying for office as well. This will inspire the youth to have more of a participatory role in the country.” This is in fact true, young people learn by example and motivated when they see positive role models take a stand. With a young person entering the political space the younger generations feel inspired and develop a growing trust for the government.

This year ACTIVATE! will see some of their own standing for elections, speaking to Tshepang Mokgatla an Activator from Johannesburg shared what motivated him to participate in the elections as a candidate. “I was motivated to stand for the elections because I see a need to build my community. As a young candidate I believe that there is a lot I can share with other youth through my innovative ideas.”

Younger candidates are able to highlight youth issues such as education, training and employment. Fellow youth are put at ease because issues affecting the youth and the greater community. Having youth issues prioritized sees a culture of engagement being encouraged between the government and youth; youth are given the chance to ensure that they have democratic representation.

On this issue Rudzani adds, “The youth can make local government work only if we can take the centre role in political organizations and be given opportunities to occupy leadership positions so that the youth can positively influence change. Standing for elections is the one way that this change can be bought about, we need to be where decisions are made, and independent candidacy is just one avenue the youth can explore.”

Kanyisa Booi, will also be standing for the 2016 elections, “I am a youth participation specialist, and have dedicated a decade of my life to understanding what challenges South African youth face and elevating their voice. As an election candidate I do believe that I can play a bigger role in youth development and ensuring that a better South Africa is created for future generations.”

The youth need a voice, a voice that is going to be heard and work for them, youth participation is essential. The likes of Kanyisa and Tshepang are moving change forward. We are seeing more and more political parties opening up youth branches as a way of embracing youth involvement and encouraging participation. Molatelo Machaba, a member of the ACTIVATE! network is happy to see young people standing in the elections; he however feels “Youth should be involved in all spheres of government from parliament, to the judiciary, and the executive. Youth policies should be amended to include this, and youth platforms should be reviewed to serve the interests of young people.

Gone are the days when a majority of youth was happy to sit back and allow decisions to be made for them, the new Millennials are exploring other ways that they can bring about change for each other. They may still feel distrust towards the government and dissatisfaction at the lack of efficiency; the difference now is that they are working towards solutions.  The youth are not to be classified as problem children, but that they are an essential part of the solution when it comes to bringing about transformation in a growing world.  


New age leadership

During the last few years there has been an increase in the number of young people taking on leadership roles in their communities. This new leadership is opinionated and vocal about not only the youth’s needs but those of their respective communities as well; it is bringing together youth and mobilising them so that they become a strong cohesive unit.

Some have said that the youth of today are not able to lead because they are caught in between Apartheid, an era they never experienced and a Democracy that has promised them many things, but under delivered on these promises.  Is it then fair to say that young people are feeling cheated and are looking for a leader that will be able and fit to stand for them and address issues on their behalf?  

German Jacobs, a member of the ACTIVATE! network shared his thoughts on how ready the youth are to take up leadership roles, “With about 22 years of democracy I honestly think the youth leaders are aware of the challenges faced by the youth. Unemployment has been on the table for decades now. Education has been a key point for decades now as well, I feel they are equipped.”

A member of the ACTIVATE! network, Rudzani Mofamate, opposes this statement, “Very few youth leaders have carried the mandate of the developmental stake.” Had this been prioritised the country’s youth would not be feeling the way they are, leaders have disappointed them and have not taken their leadership roles seriously.

Kanyisa Booi, an Activator as well had a different sentiment to share, “Young people understand what their challenges are, and they also have ideas on how to change things for the better. The limitation is access to resources and the value of guidance from those who have walked the path before them. We cannot discount the value of experience, now this speaks to intergenerational strategy and the intentionality of current leadership to leave a progressive legacy.”

South Africa has seen a number of youth leadership come and go due to experiences not being shared, if their predecessors had shared their experiences with current leadership they would have been better prepared to confront the challenges that South Africa now faces. But South Africa’s democracy is a growing democracy; young people are reworking their leadership style to ensure that they serve their followers well. We now see youth leadership engaging with citizens on social issues at various levels through initiatives that have been planned and implemented by them. From what we seeing the younger generation is making sure that they are able to serve their people well by bringing new skills to their municipalities and ensuring that their communities are developed. This is the kind of leadership the country needs to move forward. In the coming years South Africa needs to become a country that embraces the youth.

Rudzani further adds, “I would like to see young people being involved in political organisations taking leadership and also be the centre for economic development in the country being councillors in our communities, “Rudzani shares. As a country we need youth leadership it is key to our economic growth, the youth are the people driving innovation, more doors should be opened up to accommodate young people.

German urges the youth to ask themselves, ’ARE WE READY? If the answer is yes, ‘DO WE WANT A CHANCE?’ I am sure we, as the youth will gladly jump for the opportunity and prove that we are hungry for the opportunity as we continue asking the most critical and pivotal question HOW DO WE EAT?” With the change of time it is becoming clear that it is the time of the youth, and their leadership is what is needed to unearth a new and better equipped South Africa.


Social Change Drivers Making Local Government Work

One of the easiest ways young people can be involved in local government is by building relationships with their elected officials in areas where they live; run social media campaigns to initiate conversations on accountability and active citizenship. This is the backdrop of the Swing Your Vote campaign. An initiative started by a group of change drivers who include members of the ACTIVATE! Network 

Swing Your Vote comes at a perfect time where youth from democratic processes abstinence is on the rise. According to Statistics South Africa, out of 24.9 million people on the voters’ roll and approximately 9.1 million eligible voters are not registered – more than 80% of these below the age of 35. Swing Your Vote, the one-year-old organisation, has received overwhelming support from seasoned political activists, experts and governance scholars.

In order to bring to speed with latest youth governance issues, Swing Your Vote members have attended a Public Governance course which was conducted by one of South Africa’s youth development organisations, Educo Africa.

 The organisation hosts online discussions, dialogues and interactive workshops in public spaces such as schools, clinics, churches, trains and taverns. They also use informative posters, pamphlets and stickers at the same public spaces. The aim is not just to mobilise the masses but also educate the public about how local government works.

Members of Swing Your Vote believe that young people have a right to be actively involved in democratic processes and to voice out their concerns and opinions. Therefore in order to ensure that such happens, they have decided to drive meaningful change in local government across the Western Cape at grassroots level starting with the upcoming municipal elections.


According to the leaders of #SwingYourVote, funding and getting more young people interested in addressing social ills are some of the challenges that the youth organization is facing. Swing Your Vote Public Relations Manager Anele Wondo cleared some of the misconceptions about the organization. “We are a young public governance awareness organization, nothing more or less than that. We are not starting a political party nor are we affiliated to one”,  she said.

One of South Africa’s revered political stalwarts, and former President Nelson Mandela’s  and political adviser, Dr Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada is one of many prominent leaders who believe that initiatives such as #SwingYourVote have potential to drive positive active citizenry among young people.

While addressing activators in August last year, Dr Kathrada said “Young people are the majority in South Africa.  It is very important that the youth is always involved in every decision making. Of course there are power hungry people who will try to make that difficult, but that does not mean young people must just assume spectator roles and watch adults take decisions that affect their lives. I wish all competent young people like you [Activators] can start now, roll up your sleeves and be prepared to serve this country.”

#SwingYourVote is supported by ACTIVATE!. The organization is currently operating in Cape Town. Some of the members: Siphelele Chirwa, Nicole Alexander, Zikhona Mgwali, Mcebisi Emmanuel Ntozinde , Anele Wondo, Mbulelo Ncevu, Shandre Samantha Slinger, Mkhuseli Madiba and  Xolisa Right  are Activators from Cape Town townships Langa, Kraaifontein, Delft, Khayelitsha and Hanover Park, but it is accessible to all young South Africans who want to participate.

For more information about Swing Your Vote, visit Educo website www.educo.org.za or contact the organization via email: MakingLocalGovernementWork@gmail.com .

Find them on Facebook: Swing Your Vote or Twitter:  @educoafrica.