Activators Debate Inclusive Tertiary Education

“Arab springs revolutions have shown us what happens to countries that sideline youth priority concerns. We must quickly find solutions to the youth’s outcry for free education. No form of censorship tricks will defuse those ticking bombs this time around.”

Those were the words of former South African acting president, Kgalema Motlanthe’s where he warned the ANC during the National and Provincial Elections rally in July 2016. Since then, very little has changed. In fact, contrary to what the former president said, a lot of bombs were aggravated. A number of young people, including Activators have made their voices heard.

University of South Africa (UNISA) student and social change driver, Nelson President Simelane said: “The problem here is that we are dealing with a government that doesn’t want to hear anything that seems to challenge the premise of this country’s structured inequality, particularly the capitalist economy. It is rather utter dejection that this regime comprises of black majority who hail from humble backgrounds but now suddenly reduce themselves to mere apologists of the oppressive system that deny the black child from accessing quality decolonized education.

Watch Wits University students strike against 8% suggest maximum fees increment


Contrary to popular belief, Mpumalanga Activator Vusi Tshabalala is convinced that the feasibility of free education is a ludicrous idea that a democratic state such as South Africa should not have entertained. He also lambasted all those who are using national government as a scapegoat. “Shifting the blame to government leaders is a lazy excuse. The reality is free education can never work in South Africa if we still have millions of educated people refusing to repay the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Where do those individuals think government will get the money to pay for the upcoming generation of students?”  

“According to the University of Johannesburg research report, South Africa is a country with the highest (68%) dropout rate in the 1st year. Students who claim to not have enough money to pay fees should consider alternative income streams like getting part time jobs,” said Tshabalala.


Black Management Forum Student Chapter and National Deputy Chairperson and social change driver, Tshepo Wilfred Mabuya, believes that the Minister’s decision of a maximum 8% increase has crashed all significant education struggle gains: “This decision will continue to place young people at the worst margins of our economic growth and development opportunities as many of them will get financially excluded. Some of the immediate implications of this decision are: Potential national student unrest that will delay the current academic year; tertiary education dropout statistics increasing; quality skilled workforce shortages and national economic downturn,” said Tshepo.


Researcher at the Centre for Integrated Post School Education and Training at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Zolisa Marawu, believes that free education is possible if South Africa moves beyond smoke and mirrors. Marawu argues that: “There are several reasons for students’ anger toward the state and university managements. The most immediate is that Nzimande’s statement dealt with fee increments but sidestepped the fundamental issue. All the minister has done is to kick the can further down the road, deepening students’ disquiet and provoking conflict on campuses. The State cannot merely exhort citizens to patiently await an increase in economic growth and its trickle downward, while blaming “selfish” students for taking resources allocated elsewhere. There are revenue sources that can be examined carefully and accessed to fund free education for all, at all levels.”


Image from bdlive

Ambassadors of Change Hosts Heritage Day Event

Established in February 2016, Ambassadors of Change is a youth-orientated group that seeks to inspire the youth in communities to identify and develop their talent and their mission is to develop new role models with profile and educational support.

They also motivate them to live their lives to the fullest. The organisation has 70 dedicated members. Youth coordinator and founders of Ambassadors of Change are Faith Thando Sidinana, Sibabalwe Mkungela and Sibulele Qavile.

A united team with the love of CHANGE in young people in life, together with hosted successful Heritage Day event at the United Methodist Church in ward 96 in Makhaza, Khayelitsha. We’re grateful that, finally, an event of this nature took place here in Makhaza. We invested so much time to make this event a success, it was not easy but it was worth it,” said Sibulele

The event saw different communities, groups of elders and youth gather together to celebrate culture and customs. Attendees included musicians, artists, drama enthusiasts and individuals sporting traditional wear. Community leader, Pastor Mashiya from the Covenant Evangelism Movement also attended the event and said: “Through these kinds of events we want to promote a drug-free society where the youth will divert its attention to programmes that will build and benefit society.” “Our children lose focus because there is no one to establish their natural talents and send them to relevant people to nurture potential growth and recognition. That is why significant days like Heritage Day allows us as parents to note what else our children are good at. Our role after this event is to give the necessary support to these kids,” added Pastor Mashiya.

Founder/Activator, Thando Sidinana said: “Through networking we have been able to put together this successful celebration for our community and we are grateful for the positive response from our community.” Thando who has been a member of ACTIVATE since 2014 and Although the event was a resounding success, our main speaker, Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Buti Manamela couldn’t speak to us because he arrived early to an empty venue and had to proceed to other commitments. We are calling for people to learn to respect time.

Ward 96 councillor Danile khatshwa said it was good to be at the event, to celebrate the importance of culture and its practices. Danile furthermore urged parents and the community of Makhaza to take centre role in shaping communities through arts and culture programmes. He said: “Respect, tolerance and sympathy is one of the fundamental practices that need to be brought back to our societies so that we can eliminate a number of wrong doings and wrong doers.” “Parents are quick to judge their children on the choices they make, instead of listening and reasoning with children while finding common ground to meet each other half-way. This is why we have so many children on the streets, because there was no common ground reached at home, no support at all. So today, I urge parents to take Arts as an important field to bring together isizw’esimnyama (black community),” added Danile. Amongst the groups that had outstanding performances were the Proud Young Dancers who originate from Khayelitsha and is made up of young girls and boys who are five years old and older. “Children bring light and unity to us,” said ululating Makhaza community member.

Ambesiwe Vutuza, member of the Grade 4 Arts Group, Ezakwantu said: “I joined the group this year through my brother. The group has been a home away from home, I have met new brothers and sisters and we all love each other. I couldn’t sleep on Friday night; I was so excited waiting for this day to arrive so that I could showcase my talent.” In her late seventies, Gogo (grandmother) Nophambili Qavile from Eastern Cape, in Centane said: “I arrived early Saturday morning from Transkei to support my grandchildren in their cultural performances. I am overwhelmed to be here, these traditional dances remind me of my early days when we would sing and dance at every household in Centane during a traditional ceremony,” said a happy Gogo Nophambili.

Switch Weekend Comes To A Close

After a hearty breakfast, the final day of the Switch weekend seminar commenced with Paul Smith, founder and CEO of Ignitor, a company accelerating and assisting entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. Ignitor does this by utilising the LEAN start-up programme, coaching and mentoring.

Paul introduced Switchers to methods to test business ideas quickly, the importance of product-market fit, how to make the first 100 people in your business happy and the importance of writing a simple pitch utilising credibility markers to convince funders.

Switchers were encouraged to become part of the Ignitor Accelerator programme but were discouraged that the programme was not offered in rural areas. “If you want to become part of the Accelerator programme, be proactive, come together and raise money to invite organisations like Ignitor to your areas. You as Switchers need to take the lead and be innovative about how you go about soliciting help,” said Switch Co-ordinator, Carrie Leaver. “We need you guys to succeed. If you look at what makes life successful, its entrepreneurship, especially in technology. Go out there and build a better world,” said Paul.

Second guest speaker, Frank Magwegwe, CEO of Momentum Market and certified financial planner representing the Financial Planning Institute of South Africa, gave a talk on Money 101 and spoke about essential financial management strategies for start-up businesses. “Money does three things for us: we either spend it, we save it or we share it. For people to better manage money, you need to change behaviour. We go through life and have many money decisions to make. We make about 4-6 money decisions a day, whether these money decisions fall within your means is another question,” said Frank.

After sharing an embarrassing story about buying a trolley of groceries but not having enough money to pay for it, Frank spoke about the importance of budgeting. “Budgeting is beautiful because budgeting is simply a spending plan, you direct the money instead of the money directing you.”

Quick rules for budgeting

  • 50% of your money should go for essentials.
  • 30% of your money should go to lifestyle choices.
  • 20% of your money should go to savings.

Sobering money facts

  • 77 out of 100 South Africans have no money left at the end of the month.
  • 86 out of 100 South Africans use credit for day-to-day expenses.
  • 94 out of 100 South Africans don’t have enough money for retirement.
  • 8-9 % of clients say they don’t save because they don’t have money to save.
  • Spinach is 10 times more expensive from Woolworths than at Shoprite.

Frank furthermore highlighted that saving doesn’t create wealth, only taking risks creates wealth. “You must take risks and that is where investing comes in. If you keep your money in your savings account, you’re probably getting a 3% growth, however u can grow your money by more than 9% if you invest in shares on the stock exchange for example,” he explained.

Carrie furthermore emphasised the importance of a having a group of like-minded people outside the Switch environment as grouping together is the best way to share ideas and resources after the seminar. “You are not alone. There are probably people all over the country who are looking for like-minded people. Social media platforms are not only a good source of motivation and inspiration but they also connect us all, use them,” lamented Carrie.

At the end of the final day of the seminar, Switchers felt encouraged and appropriately equipped with requisite skills to make their individual projects a success. “Success is never a straight line, there are unexpected turns and obstacles you will encounter. Switch can only take you so far, but the onus is on you to make your project a success. Failures are part of journey, embrace it and move forward. What makes us Switchers is we see opportunities and we see problems, but the problems excite us,” said Carrie.

Switcher, Lusanda Yose from the Eastern Cape was beaming with optimism and hopefulness at the idea of opening her own coffee shop at the end of the weekend seminar. “Switch helped me because I had a lot of ideas but no idea on how to implement them. Switch has helped me explore other avenues and because of that I’ve had a good year. I look forward to putting in the work to make my coffee dreams a reality,” she said.


Inaugural Switch Weekend Seminar Kicks Off

Fifty-five delegates from around the country joined together in the first ever national SWITCH weekend seminar at the Alpha Conference Centre in Johannesburg. The seminar brings together Switchers from diverse backgrounds who run various projects in their communities to exchange ideas, exchange lessons learned, develop skills and inspire each other to strive for greatness.  

Drive, resilience and determination are words Switchers know intimately. After travelling from far and wide, with some spending hours on a bus to get to the seminar, Switchers enthusiastically participated in a networking session, public speaking activity and shared experiences, among others. The day was jam-packed with dynamic speakers and informative presentations created to reinforce the positive gains Switchers have achieved within their individual projects. Said Ndumiso Sokhela from Durban: “For me, the day has enlightened me and provided me with specific information as a networker and public speaker to achieve my project goals.”

Guest speaker, Steve Mululu, CEO of Dream Body kicked off the seminar by emphasising the importance of seizing opportunities. Using an unconventional presentation style, Steve rattled the group by challenging who they are, why they were at the seminar and how they propose to plan for the future. Steve furthermore hammered home the significance of time: “Time is the only true democracy in the world. We only have 24 hours in a day. It doesn’t matter where you come from or who you are time is consistently constant. The difference is what you do with your time. Do you invest your time or spend your time? That will determine how your future unfolds,” he said. Duane Kok from Pietermaritzburg encapsulated Steve in one word “organic.”

Carrie Leaver, SWITCH Co-ordinator gave the group a practical talk on legal forms for social enterprises, touching on essential issues every social enterprise should be cognisant of when registering. Carrie emphasised the importance of understanding the purpose of a ventured social enterprise, and the difference in processes when registering or applying for funds as PTY’s, NPO’s or NGO’s: “130 0000 non-profit organisations are competing for the same funds and corporate spaces are also tighter with money. If you have a sustainable business plan, companies will give you money. You just have to find the right funders,” explained Carrie.  

Another guest speaker, Mpumelelo Zulu, founder of Kofi Africa, the first premium coffee bar in Soweto along renowned Vilakazi Street, shared his experience of creating a credible brand and owning his dream: “You need to believe your brand is actually good. That’s why I strive to give my customers a good cup of coffee even when I’m not there,” he said. 

The group also participated in a public speaking exercise facilitated by Slilindile Ncube where she highlighted essential public speaking skills required for funding presentations. Erika Joubert presented a session on partnership analysis in order for Switchers to understand collaboration, the difference between developmental partnerships VS ordinary joint ventures and the various forms that partnerships can take.  

Although the group was thoroughly spent by the end of the first day, everyone seemed excited to confront the final day of the weekend seminar. At close of the first day, William Sirengqe from Orange Farm said: “It was well organised and the content was fruitful,” while  Dean Jates from Western Cape said: “The first day has reminded me that I’m on the right track and its okay to make mistakes, but it’s equally okay to be successful, I can’t wait for tomorrow.”

Could a Sisterhood Be a Tool To Drive Change?

My name is Philisiwe Phelokazi Cenga, I am currently living in KZN, eMlazi. Activator 2015 and I am a quarter of a century old.

What is your field of passion/interest?

Well, that’s quite a question. Women empowerment and education, mainly. I am also a researcher, of which I really love.

What are you doing to drive change?

Currently, I am part of The Sisterhood Tribe, a group of young women who are passionate about women empowerment and safety in society. I just started hosting a series of sex talks called Bring a Lil Sister, your “Lil Sister” can be 12 or 20 – it doesn’t really matter. The first one was hosted in UMlazi. This is to give these young women a safe space to talk all things from relationships to sex and sexuality. Our main aim is to encourage conversations around these issues so that they can make better and informed decisions about their sex lives and sexuality in general.

I have also co-founded and currently co-run an NPO called ChangeSA, this is my original baby with Monica Ndlovu. We tutor, mentor and give career guidance to schools around uMlazi, we are currently working with two schools at the moment and looking to expand in the coming year.

How has ACTIVATE! Supported you in driving change?

The network! Being part of such a powerful network of young people gives you that courage to get out there and advance yourself, advance your skills and do more for your community. The human resources at your disposal, the project planning tools and funding opportunities, this all has helped me quite a lot in successfully running my work and personal projects.

What is your take on the recognition of performing arts in South Africa?

Personally, I do not think it is getting the recognition it deserves. I don’t think that people recognize the role performing arts can play in education. How it can be used to discover and develop a person’s individual identity. How watching your favourite play or listening to music can teach you so much and inspire you to critically think about social issues. How listening to Mama Miriam Makeba and following her music can teach you so much about black history in South Africa. There are valid reasons though for this under-recognition, I believe. Poverty and inequality continuously corners us into that survival mentality, viewing anything that has to do with entertainment as a luxury or something that cannot help us tackle the important issues in society.

How do you reinforce culture in the work that you do?

Our culture, as black South Africans, or as South Africans in general, reinforces certain norms, the work I do looks at these norms and analyses how they might be harmful or oppressive to women and reinforce the ones that are positive to society at large. I try and relook and re-imagine what other types of norms might be positive towards women and reinforce those. For example, with ChangeSA we do our best to break down the gender stereotypes as to which career one can pursue, based on their gender, based on their background and also their socio-economic status. I am not sure if I make sense on this one

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

Education! The way the education system is structured and the ways in which it can actually work for us as the youth in making South Africa a better country.

How do you motivate yourself?

I think what motivates me is knowing what my bigger picture looks like and doing what I can to get the right colour of paints, brushes and canvas to paint it. Also, it’s just in knowing that I deserve good things and that my dreams as a black child are valid.

How can Activators get in touch/collaborate with you?

Well, anyone with the same interests as above can just hit me up. I am looking to do more work that encourages women to own who they are and their bodies. Also, working with my fellow brothers to host brotherhood talks, I think it is important to look at the male perspective as well. I am Philisiwe Phelokazi Cenga on Facebook, on twitter @ChldOfRebellion

Final comments?

It is important to have an idea what you would want your bigger picture to look like.

PRESS RELEASE: Ambassadors of Change Driving Heritage Day

Formally known as Shaka Day before 1995, Heritage Day is a national holiday and gives South Africans a chance to pause and take stock how their diversity can contribute to building a better South Africa.This day brings different forms of cultural appreciation and celebration nationally, as the young and old embrace their cultural identity in various ways and in spaces.  

Ambassadors of Change (AOC), is hosting an event that will take place on Saturday, 24th September 2016 at the Methodist Church in Makhaza. As country with different cultures, with many people from Africa, this youth organisation saw the need to give the Khayelitsha community a chance to reflect on themselves and their past, present and future- more specifically the youth of this country.

Ambassadors of Change is a youth organization that was founded in February 2016 by a dynamic group of young people in Makhaza that saw the need to drive change using innovative tools for development. Faith Thando Sidinana, who is one of the members of AOC, is part of the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Network of just over 2000 young leaders who are active citizens for public good.

We are aiming at encouraging people to learn about their culture, our National flag, our national anthem and other symbols of historic importance. We want to celebrate our achievements as a nation and look forward to a peaceful and prosperous future”, says Faith.

The Deputy Minister in The Presidency, Mr. Buti Manamela, is expected to give a keynote speech at the event, along with other inspirational speakers with various youth development backgrounds. The dynamic cultural group of young dancers: The Proud Young Dancers, under the Texas Battle Foundation, will be rendering a traditional dance performance.

The event will take place at:

40878 Gwegweleza Street




To confirm your attendance, contact Faith on 0786831829 .

For Media Related Queries, contact

Nelisa Ngqulana

ACTIVATE! Communications Manager

Email: nelisa@localhost

Cell: 0738178017

Is Youth Participating in Democratic Institutions?

Youth have an immense opportunity to influence South Africa’s political landscape.  Research suggest the current generation of youth in South Africa is being alienated from the country’s democratic culture. This is reflected in the low levels of youth participation in democratic institutions, low voter turnout among the youth and seemingly low levels of interest in political activities.

According to a 2014 report by the Institute for Security Studies, voter registration levels among eligible 18-29 year olds was just over 50%, a registration rate far lower than for older cohorts. It is commonly argued that youth have opted out of democratic processes such as elections due to the disinterest of the ruling elite in responding to their interests.  Promises of “a better life for all” are weighed against the lived realities of high levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality. Any genuine effort aimed at addressing the challenge of youth alienation from the country’s democratic culture must be representative of the dire need to create an enabling environment for youth participation in democratic institutions.

Despite their apparent lack of participation in formal political activities, youth have been at the forefront of many of the recent protest actions over service delivery, education reform and emerging social movements seeking to shift structural and systematic oppression such as “Rhodes Must Fall” and “FeesMustFall.” Thus, while young people are alienated from contemporary South African democratic culture, they are not singularly apathetic, and seek mechanisms and avenues to express their dissatisfaction outside of formal institutions. In light of the above, it is clear that South Africa’s youth are socially and civically engaged, albeit in less formally organised activities than prior generations may have been. One such event held by Activator Mzimkhulu Radebe on 26 July, in conjunction with the Department of Social Development and the Free State Unemployed Youth Forum convened a dialogue at Ntha Public Hall in Lindley, Free State. The event was aimed at providing a platform for youth and various thought-leaders in government, the private sector and civil society to engage on the pressing issue of low levels of youth participation in democratic institutions and processes

It is important to understand what drives young people to participate in democratic processes and with this understanding create an enabling environment for young people to contribute positively to the public realm.

In an effort to contribute towards enhancing civic engagement and social participation, the Activate Change Drivers network has, through initiatives such as “Activate! Youth Imbizo” and “Youth Making Local Government Work”, helped facilitate youth-led dialogues across South Africa. Projects Coordinator at Activate Change Drivers, Lezerine Mashaba explains that through platforms such as “Activate! Youth Imbizo” and “Youth Making Local Government Work”, the Activate! Network seeks to connect and collaborate with Activators in advancing the imperative of driving change for public good across South Africa.

Youth Engagements

Representing the Department of Social Development, Sibusiso Mokoena, Regional Youth Development Coordinator for Thabo Mofutsanyana District in the Free State, reiterated the importance of youth playing an active role in decision-making structures of government, the private sector and civil society. Mokoena mentioned the various youth development interventions undertaken by the Free State government to address the issue of inadequate skills and capacity among the youth of the Free State, including the NYDA Grant Programme, and bursaries offered by various government departments. Mokoena emphasised: “Young people must recognise that they have a responsibility to take advantage of these programmes, and many other youth development initiatives which seek to empower and capacitate them to contribute towards the development of their communities.”

As part of the proceedings, participants were also guided through processes of registering their NGOs and accessing funding provided by Social Development in an effort to ensure that their engagement and interaction with the public realm was not confined to the party-political framework.

Creating avenues and spaces for young people to make a contribution in the public realm will have important socio-political ramifications for their communities.


Image from LiveMag


Vuwani Continues To Burn

As I write this, I am reminded of the famous American black revolt movie called “Mississippi Burning.” Now in South Africa, we have our very own “Vuwani Burning.” 

I woke up today to news that the marginalised community of Vuwani in Limpopo Province, has yet again set alight learning institutions. This after, the very same community had burnt 25 learning institutions in less than a week a few months ago. 

It’s easy to throw all sorts of accusations to shift blame from the main perpetrators in the game, yet often, we fail to ask critical questions.

From a distance, we should ask ourselves, where is the community whose infrastructure is being destroyed? What exactly went wrong with our South African people? How does denying kids an opportunity to learn, advance the cause of those destroying valuable public property? Why is it that it’s only ‘black’ people who does this? Who are these people destroying our educational infrastructure? 

The reality is, there are so many deserving communities in need of infrastructure development that people of Vuwani are mercilessly destroying and they’re pulling their own kids backwards.

The sad reality is that the South African Government has now been forced to put aside other important projects requiring attention to attend to the Vuwani case. While schools that have been applying for infrastructure development in other communities are given the common, discouraging and boring response that priority is given to schools that have been stormed down and burnt. All the while, kids in other rural communities continue studying under difficult circumstances under trees- come rain come sun. 

The reality is, the ANC has become aloof. 


Torching 25 schools in less than 96 hours is an international record. From a distance, it’s not possible for any unorganised spontaneous community outrage to yield such results. Most black communities know that when a community mob is enraged, it will act collectively during daylight to attack public institutions. 

In Vuwani, the schools are torched at night. This suggests a trained, well founded mobile guerrilla unit capable of moving from one area to another quickly. The first six schools were torched on one night after a report back from community leaders subsequent to a high court ruling. 

The police and intelligence agencies must apprehend the culprits and these culprits must be taken to court promptly.  The guerrilla unit will reveal its masters. The masters must be severely punished by the justice system.

An unequivocal example must be made of these criminal elements. For months now, kids in Vuwani have been school-less. Their classrooms, desks and records gone with a criminal conflagration of their schools caused by reactionary pseudo-political forces determined to satisfy their backward political ambitions. 

The lynching of 25 schools is a huge and heavy national disaster. It’s a bloody-damn national tragedy. South African needs to seriously rally together and draw the line and say: “Not In Our Name.”


The reality is, the ghost of the past (apartheid) is haunting us. Apartheid gave birth to the demons of racism, ethnicity and regionalism among others. To fix this, a continuous dialogue on these national questions in needed. 

In addition, we cannot as the youth of the country continue to ignore the pseudo-political machinations of some scoring cheap political points inflaming the community’s for taking the matter through the courts, but alas they degenerated into the most barbaric acts of burning schools and other productive property. 

We can never advocate violence. For through violence, you may murder a murderer, but you can never murder, murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can never establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater but you can never murder hate. Darkness cannot put out darkness- only light can do that. Let Vuwani have schools. 

Someone please stop the voodoo.

Koketso Marishane is a social analyst and writes as a concerned citizen. 

Image from Google

Art For Lifeskills

“A society that has lost touch with its creative side is an imprisoned society, in that generations of people may be closed minded. Arts broadens our perspectives and can help us overcome prejudices.” – Globally acclaimed Irish youth development expert, Jessica Carson, once said.

This month, ACTIVATE! shines the spotlight on young people who challenge the status quo and set a new national standard through various art platforms in South Africa by showcasing their challenges and successes during this month. Free State based emerging published poet, writer, performer Multi-media digital designer and Activator, Kabelo Mokoena (known as Proverbial), embodies that and more.

Mokoena is a teacher by profession as well as a co-founder of a Non-Profit Organization (Sisonke) that uses art to impart life skills to school going children. The organization mentors 110 kids (some have competed on national debate platforms like the Mzansi Spelling Bee competition).

The raw and unscripted young leader has been featured in a number of media platforms: Radio, television, and print.  Popularly known for one of his controversial quotes: “Long before the mind was raped, the body was long time raped”, Mokoena uses arts as therapy to heal masked social ills, confront cultural norms and provoke progressive national discussions from all sectors.

Mokoena might not be getting sufficient backing, but the determined young leader has already made tremendous inroads in arts with his recent public engagements and some corporate decision-makers and national government leaders like Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini.

In that engagement, he recited a moving poem rebuking the powers that be for being opportunistic and using stone-age social oppressive patriarchal and western political systems to censor and sideline legitimate and immediate issues of the marginalised people in society. Those views may not have sat well with authorities at the time, but they went a long way in convincing those old leaders who’ve heard the message not just to reconsider their views but to be change agent drivers in policy making processes.


Mokoena specially attributes some of his achievements to the ACTIVATE! Network. “Partaking in the ACTIVATE! programme has helped me with mobilising people of the same interest and equipped me to be able to register an NPO. It is because of ACTIVATE! Leadership’s Community Development Certificate Course  (CDCC) that the organisation is sustainable and continues to grow,” he said.

Moving from the assumption that everyone agrees with the fact that art is one of the very useful universal common language tools, Mokoena’s niche markets are youth from traditional, religious and intellectual spaces. According to him, this well-defined market serves his arts eternal legacy. “My arts mission is to inspire positive social change, provoke discussions, capacitate the already existing viable platforms that enable marginalised voices to be heard and influence South Africa’s thought leaders and their followers’ thinking. This can only be achieved when young people from traditional, religious and intellectual academia spaces are actively involved instead of being spectators as they are right now,” he said.

Unlike many sceptics, Mokoena is convinced that a well-planned arts practice does not just bring much consciousness but also contributes to the economy. That and many other reasons informed the core pillars of his long term vision which is to run at least, “four custom-made gifts business empires (which sells bookmarkers, poetry cards, and branded material).” According to him, “the business is already booming in some of Free State campuses.

Talking about art vested power to move mountains and deliver people to a psychological land of milk and honey, Mokoena said: “Historians may refuse to tell us that some of the key liberators of this beautiful country and from all over the world are artists who, during tough times, used their craft to encourage, and console people. Even during good times, arts becomes that one thing that brings people together.

According to Mokoena, art is a powerful but neglected tool that Africans need to popularise and commercialise. “How often do you hear people proudly telling you they love Italian stylish suits, Indian food, American music etc? All those things indirectly reflect the cultures and artistic expression of those countries. Why can’t the same be done with and for our own arts? Usual scapegoats like government, leaders, elders and educators alone cannot change that which they don’t know. Again I am saying – only when our art is popularly known and commercially attractive will we see arts as the social cohesion and major economic contributor. Artists have to lead the way by producing informative and commercially sounding graft, ” said Mokoena.

Those who are interested in partnering with Mokoena can contact him on 0782176334 or via his email address. He is also very active on social networks. His twitter handle is @Proverbial_Poet. On Facebook he is Kabelo Mokoena (Brother Colin)

The Art of Driving Change

My name is Luyanda Nodilinga from the Eastern Cape but I currently reside in the Western Cape, Kraaifontein. I’m 29-years old and was part of ACTIVATE! class of 2013.

What is your area of interest/passion?

I have and will be an always artist/performer. I love art because it connects me to things I have never dreamed of. My art has taken me to places I could not imagine, I have interests in music, dance, acting and a bit of poetry. Give me a stage and I will use it.     

How are you driving change?

I am driving change through an organisation called Light of Life theatre,. It’s been in existence since 2009 (7 years now). We have been training our peers for performing arts in our community. A lot of them have joined and grown to be university students, drama and movie actors. We have also inspired other youth to start their own organisations, so there has been big love and activity in the performing arts.                                                   

How has ACTIVATE! supported you in driving change?

ACTIVATE! has played a role of capacity building for me. Since the ACTIVATE training programme, my organisation has grown because we now  have a clearer vision of how we are going to move forward. We even won big festivals after 2013, such as the Zabalaza best fringe production, Artscape High Drama festival and we represented the Western Cape at the  Market Theatre in Johannesburg. Training taught me lots in terms of project running, leadership, etc.   

What is your take on the recognition of performing arts in South Africa?

Recognition for Arts and Culture is a disgrace.  The budget for Arts was 11 billion allocation from government. Small organisations like mine do not get anything from that budget.  We only survive through fundraising and by attending festivals. Therefore, art is not prioritised in our government even though a lot of young people are artists . We push our work without any support from the Arts and Culture Department.

How do you reinforce/celebrate culture in the work that you do?

We celebrate culture by producing content (poetry, music, dance and acting) using our home language, and we make productions that speak about culture and traditions. We had worked on a production called Ndenzeni. It was about a child who must accept the calling for being isangoma but his father was Christian. We believe that culture shapes our being.

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

Art should be prioritised because it can build harmony among citizens.  With art in demand we could contribute towards addressing many social ills.  Many young people would realise their gifts and talent, and this would be inclusive of young people of all ages:  from ECD to tertiary level.

What inspired ‘Ndenzeni’ the play?

We had a brainstorming session about the clash of culture and westernisation/Christianity. We did some research on these dynamics, and then coined the production. The interesting aspect of the play is that it is generational; the ancestors “declare” that if they can’t get through the son (spiritually), they will get through the grandchildren. So it plays a lot on our belief systems and what has shaped us to this day.               

How do you motivate yourself?

My motivation is the constant reminder that whatever hustling and struggling we facing now, all the work will yield results and we will be rewarded ten years from now.

Final Comment

Art is life, life is art. To me it is healing and a space to be whatever I want to be. Watch out for Light Of Life Theatre because we’re going to be a big name in the South African Arts and Culture space.


Reclaiming, Restoring and Celebrating Heritage

At the launch of the 2016 Heritage Month celebrations in Sophiatown, Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa called upon the nation to support emerging South African artists who continue to lift the spirits of the nation.

This month, creative minds have the opportunity to lead the national agenda during Heritage month. Challenging creative minds to foster social cohesion, contribute to social consciousness while also advancing inclusive economic development will open doors for South Africa and its youth.

Based in the Eastern Cape, Activator, poet, writer and performing artist Zilungile Athenjwa Zimela is one of the many artists who are earmarked to be leading Heritage Day celebrations under the theme: ‘Reclaiming, restoring and celebrating our living heritage.’

The hard-hitting orator has worked with prominent artists like Nkqo, member of the famous Soul Clap Session; spoken word artist Baxolisi Mfidi, and fellow activator Singata Titsi Dabata. Zilungile has multiple art bases in Mthatha, East London and Port Elizabeth.

Zilungile uses her craft to challenge the so called “sensitive” social issues. She aims to inform, inspire and entertain her followers in the Eastern Cape, Kwazulu Natal, Western Cape and Gauteng. Talking about life lessons she has learnt through the arts, Zilungile said: “Art has been very instrumental in this country. I use art to evoke and impart life changing ideas to move this country forward. I use art to change perceptions and persuade the different audiences, readers or listeners to consider exploring untapped unifying alternatives.”

Zilungile attributes part of her achievements to some ACTIVATE! Leadership personal training, network, inspiration and support. “Being with ACTIVATE! has helped me grow my public speaking skills and stage presence. I have always wanted to brand my work and ACTIVATE! has taught me project management skills and how to shape my dream. ACTIVATE! has a holistic and hands on approach to the information they impart to us. This information broadens our spheres of reasoning and outlook on life,” she said.

Talking about her medium to long-term plan, Zilungile said: “My medium term goal is to strengthen my new arts business adventure, The Soul Indaba Showcase Experience. The aim of the business is to uplift and promote local Eastern Cape arts to the entire country, the continent and the world. If all goes well, my long-term financial focus will not only bolster my own career but also aims to give back to young people from my home province, Eastern Cape.”

Besides being an artist, Zilungile does project management and marketing for an Eastern Cape based youth communication and leadership program. Some of her achievements include obtaining a silver medal at CASAC, earning the gold prize at a Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college.


Listen to Zilungile Athenjwa Zimela talking about the power of arts

Those interested in working with Zilungile can contact her directly on: 0717764585 or 0782553378 or via email Her Facebook account is Zilungile Athenjwa Zimela. She also has a Facebook page: The Soul Indaba Showcase Experience. On Instagram, she is _NGILEVDH.

The bitter taste of the 2015/16 Crime Stats

Working towards creating a country where residents feel safe in their homes, businesses, at school, while travelling or while shopping remains a fundamental human right for all citizens. Among Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, security or the perception of being safe is one of the most basic human development needs behind what motivates people. Additionally, personal safety is a prerequisite in the National Development Plan (NDP) for the country to develop and ensure enhanced productivity.

On Friday, South Africans waited with bated breath for the annual release of the criminal statistics for the period between April 2015 and March 2016.

Minister of Police, Nkosinathi Nhleko, along with his delegation, delivered what can only be described as the worst news coming from the police service since the Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega was suspended pending an inquiry into her fitness to hold office. The stats covered four broad categories of crime: contact crime, contact-related crime, property-related crime and other serious crime. On the positive side, crime in three of the four categories decreased during the current financial year.

The fight against crime is not only a police issue, it an issue that must be taken up by communities. But is the increase in contact crime an indication of the degeneration of society? Are the different underlying social fabrics that exist in various communities under threat of breaking down? These are difficult questions requiring complexed answers. Due to the nature of being socially related (contact crime), a concerted effort is needed by inter-related stakeholders along with an integrated justice system to ensure citizens feel safe.  

In a resounding blow to the South African psyche, General Khomotso Phahlane, Acting Police Commissioner admitted that although sexual offences have been sharply decreasing since 2013/14 (current decrease of 3.2% when compared to previous year); this may be due to a lack of reporting from victims. But with the consistent year-on-year decline of reporting sexual offences, what remedial action have the police embarked on to deal with the identified elements contributing to the decline?

General Phahlane, explained that the police have mounted a “back to basics” approach, an element of response aimed at doing the right things right. The current strategic and operational approach is informed by the objectives of NDP:

Although policing remains a thankless job with unrelenting criticism from “armchair” critics, Phahlane pledged to “paint the town blue” suggesting that more police will be deployed because communities must know that police are out and about. To this end, police have established a collaborative and consultative approach to policing with all stakeholders. They have already initiated consultation processes with various farming communities and businesses.

Police have identified three transversal issues required to improve the crime-fighting service they provide:

  • Police must act with integrity, discipline and enforce a culture of professionalism within the service.

  • Implement a proactive and constructive strategy to demilitarise the police service

  • The uncompromising compliance with the fundamental principles of policing, doing the right things right while establishing a culture of performance management and accountability.

“Contact crime requires effort far broader than just police service itself. We need to begin to engage the overall social outlook of South African society to deal with patterns of behavior,” said Minister Nhleko.  

On the positive side, the Minister announced that the crime statistics will henceforth be released on a quarterly basis to ensure statistics aren’t old by release date and that citizens are duly updated about progress made by police in the fight against crime.

I think we can all agree that policing is an essential but very complexed science. It requires numerous moving pieces to gel together to make progress a reality. To this end, I salute the hundreds of men and women who fearlessly protect the vulnerable everyday.

Ironically, the crime statistics were released on the eve of a Police Memorial held at the Union Buildings on Sunday for 72 police officers who were killed in the past year; 40 officers lost their lives while on duty.

Notable facts from the criminal statistics:  

  • Murder rate up by 4.9%, most cases indoors, domestic violence and alcohol linked (social contact crime)

  • Reported serious crime decreased by 1.4% from 2014/15 to 2015/16. This depicts a 9% decrease over a 10 year period.

  • Carjacking is up by 14.3%

  • About 5000 cases of arson were reported across the country with protests (Vuwani, FeesMustFall and RhodesMustFall) as major contributing factors.

  • Peaceful protests are on the decrease with more and more protests becoming extremely rowdy.

  • South Africans fear house robbery the most, up by 2.7%

  • Driving under the influence is up by 11.1%

  • 1.7 million crimes were reported by communities during 2015/16 financial year

  • Crimes detected as a result of police action contributes 17% to crime

Click here for video to full Criminal statistics report for 2015/16

Provoke Inspire Connect


Activate Change Drivers are constantly relooking at creative and innovative ways to build resources and create connections for Activators. 

This document outlines the use of a USSD platform which is used for application purposes. 

What is USSD?

Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) is a technology that allows users to access various services through the use of short codes.


We’ve found that only 60% of South African have access to internet / web services. USSD platform can be accessed by anyone and bridges the gap and can be accessed across South Africa

We’d like to recruit activators from all geographic regions, hence the USSD application.

What is the cost of using this line?

The cost is 20c per 20 seconds. The USSD system allows you to enter all data in 2 minutes. That is a total of R1,20 per session. If this time passes you are required to dial in again by using the *120*12000*1# number. The system will recognise your number & you will then start at the point that you’ve left off.

Where is my data stored?

Siyashesha Leadership Incubator the managing entity of the Activate Change Driver’s network uses a Customer Relationship management system called Salesforce to store all activator data. 

Why is my ID number asked?

The system that holds all data needs an identifying field. This is a number or name that will never change so that should applicants be successful through the recruitment process that their profiles be created based on their ID no.

What happens should the session time out while I’m completing it?

The session / application will time out after 2 minutes, if you take longer than this to complete you should dial in again (using no. *120*12000*1#). The system should recognise your number and will start again where you left off.

The system times out once I put in my email address?

If the USSD system times out after you’ve inserted your email address you may have included a space after your email address. We suggest you dial in again and complete the rest of the form. 

How do I know that my expression of interest has been submitted?

Your final screen will be “Thank you for Thank you for your interest. Please visit regarding further news on our recruitment drive”

Any technical difficulties?

Should you have any technical difficulties please email us on recruitment@localhost

Any feedback to your experience using the USSD line

Your comments and experience is important to us, please email us on recruitment@localhost