We Should Not Be Punishing Drug Dealers in Schools

By Leander Julius

I went to a rather standard high school in Johannesburg – but also a school with a reputation for its drug usage amongst the pupils.

I remember one afternoon after “break time” the principal instructed me to ‘watch the criminals’ – the pupils caught selling dagga, until the police arrived – and arrive they did! Fully-fitted for a drug ring raid, they carried several magazines of live ammunition and full tactical gear – they were prepared for the war on drugs.

Although this was a scare tactic, it hardly worked. The boys in their tippexed Karrimor bags were neither remorseful nor intended to stop their little drug empire.

The show of brute force and punitive disciplinary measures along with name-calling had no effect on them. They were the dirty mark on the school’s name. The criminals, the drug dealers and all sorts of other negative names.

The system “worked” as it always does. Expelling the pupils, the system did what it knew best – to treat the symptom and not the cause.

WAR on drugs DOES NOT WORK

I however believe in finding an unseen benefit. I believe in harnessing the obvious entrepreneurial skills of drug dealing pupils. However, I need to state categorically that I am not advocating for pupils to sell dagga – let us not forget that dagga is still illegal and drug dealing is not something we ought to be praising.

Instead, what we need to be praising is the obvious skills sets that that drug dealers have.

My reasoning is simple: I sincerely doubt anybody sells dagga for the sake of it. People sell dagga to make money – this is a no brainer. Even dealers themselves never use drugs – it is all about supply and demand. In essence, it is all about business

Pupils who sell drugs – even though selling dagga is illegal – are not criminals. We need to move away from treating them as criminals

These pupils have a wealth of untapped entrepreneurial potential, and when you punitively punish a pupil for selling dagga destroys the entrepreneurial morale of a young mind

My argument is not concerned with the moral and legal arguments around dagga and drugs. I could not care less if you are a liberal or conservative on the topic – that is a lengthy topic for another day. What I want you to think about and realise is that drug dealing pupils are brilliant entrepreneurs. They see a need and satisfy it.

 

So, are we praising drug-dealing pupils?

No, we are not!

If you sold dagga at my high school, you were either expelled or suspended. This seems to be the norm in South African high schools. Of course, each case has its merits, but it would be foolish to apply a one-size fits all model when there are alternatives.

Again, looking at the potential a drug-dealing pupil possesses, I do not think that expulsion should be an option (perhaps for repeat offenders.) Punishment that is not vengeful and punitive in nature is the best way forward – especially when dealing with children.

Remember, we are working with young minds – minds that we can expose to new possibilities. In essence, we can quickly rectify and rehabilitate problematic behaviour in children.

Even though rehabilitation is a strong word, remember that the key principle the South African justice system is based on, is restorative justice. Expulsion is not restorative!

Now imagine the restorative justice is harnessing the entrepreneurial skills of drug dealers for a greater good.

 

So, what do you propose?

I propose suspension/hard labour AS WELL AS a mandatory entrepreneurial skills sets “detention” that runs for a month or more.

By making mentors available, to teach youngsters business skills (which they probably already have) – pupils can channel this entrepreneurial energy to a sustainable, legal business.

In fact, let me be bold in saying that the most probable reason for drug dealing amongst pupils, is a lack of role models – That and the need to sustain oneself. Both these reasons are not criminal in nature, but a symptom of a greater society – but, again, story for another day.

 

However, this idea is not without fault.

First off, we need real people– real role models that pupils strive to emulate. It is pointless putting a pupil through this program without a role model because there will be little to no incentive to stick to the principles of the program.

Then we have the issue of equal access to programs. One has to wonder about pupils who want to participate in this program. Do they have to sell drugs to qualify?

We are in desperate need of youth economic development in South Africa and the solution lies right in front of us! We should not be punishing drug dealing pupils – instead, we should be channeling that entrepreneurial energy into businesses that have the potential to change South Africa.

We cannot fight youth unemployment and to a large degree, most social ills, if we continue systematically suppressing entrepreneurship.

Let us stop following a system that does not work and start thinking out of the box – let us stop punishing drug-dealing pupils.

Leander Julius is an Activator! who is passionate about micro-economic development and challenging the system.

A! Health Champions Hacking Tarvens

During the AIDS conference in Durban, it was discussed that the number of new recorded HIV infections has increased to 2000 per week. And that the demographic that is most affected is youth aged 15 – 24. This prompted the forming of the A! Heath Champions that will focus in dealing with the various diseases that seem to be targeting young people.

                                      Hackathon on Alcohol and Drug Addiction in Thobelani Secondary, Mpumalanga

The community engagements are called Hackathons and they seek to explore community social ills through conversations. It involves sharing ideas, experience and innovation solution. One of the biggest problems facing South African Health Sector is that the existing interventions are not working. Most of the time young people shy away from local stakeholders such as clinics for information because of the stigma of being judged by the health professional for living a certain lifestyle. The A! Health Champions, have taken it upon themselves to use the Hackathon model to hear the real voices of youth regarding the following issues:

  1. With so many interventions aimed at reducing the high disease burden, why are young people not using them and why are they continuing with risky behaviour.
  2. We also wanted to find out if young people knew what role their behaviour is contributing to the country’s high disease burden.
  3. We also wanted to find out what young people think needs to be done to decrease the high disease burden.                  

Eyadini Labantu HIV/AIDS infection in youth Hackathon in Durban, Kwazulu Natal

 

The A! Health Hackathons hack into spaces that young people normally hang out that are considered hot spots for risky behaviours such as taverns, school grounds, shisa nyamas and clubs as those are places where you find young people who are practising risky behaviours like having unprotected sex or abusing drugs. The aim is to use these Hackathons to find out the real reason why young people are engaging in risky behaviour. The A! Health Champions turn these hot spots into safe spaces.

Inter-generational Hackathon on Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights in Tso’s Butchery in Kagiso, Gauteng

 

The A! Health Hackathons were held in various chill spots across the country. The strategy of using these places enabled the A! Health champions to provoke critical conversations. We can hack into big issues so that we could do something about it. The topics that the Hackathons mainly focused on:

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Alcohol and Drug Addiction
  • Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights

Hackathons were held in partnership with local stakeholders such as nurses, counsellors and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that the medical matters that arise are addressed by qualified professional. The A! Health Champions turned hot spots into safe spaces where youth can open up about real issues that they are facing. We were able to reach many young people in various provinces and we will be continuing the Hackathons with local stakeholders.

                         

Pangu Pangu Shisa Nyama – Kwamhlanga, MP                         Napjadi Liquior Store, in Mankweng, Limpopo

 

 

Our next step is to meet and share our finding in the 1st A! Health Bosberaad where all the A! Champions will meet to share their ideas and develop community interventions that will have an impact in #YouthHealthMatters.

We are the alternative!

 

Because #YouthHealthMatters

Introducing the A! Health Champions

Pssss…. have you heard? ACTIVATE! has a new focus group where all their focus will be on the #YouthHealthMatters. Over the past 5 years, the ACTIVATE! has had Activators that have been working in isolation in various health initiatives. Well, this year we are happy to introduce the A! Health Champions that are Activators that are running initiatives or working within the Health sector who are working together to become an influential force for good, in the South African Health Sector.

Now you maybe asking yourself what is this A! Health sector and what role it plays in assisting the alleviation of the high disease burden in the country? Well, the A! Health Sector is a platform where Activators working with Health issues or rather under the Health Department work together to implement real change in the community. The sector recognises the work done by both the health workers on the ground and the government health Departments. With that said, the plan is to assist in professionalising and elevating the work that the A! Health Champions are doing in their communities.

As we have seen the South African Department of Health has and still is making a huge effort in trying to reduce the number of people infected by HIV/AIDS, especially the growing number of young people living with the disease. The other issue is that the government is trying to control the high rate of young people who are addicted to alcohol or drugs. The country’s disease burden is such that the government can’t be working alone to resolve issues. Which is why the A! Health Champions have taken it upon themselves to work with the government and other sectors to ensure that we have an impact. We believe that by working together, we can make a difference.

The main reason for this increase in the country’s disease burden is that the Health Sector is not youth friendly or youth-led. The A! Health Champions have been engaging youth and have taken it upon themselves to be at the forefront of the pandemic and are leading alternative methods of combating the high disease burden. They are also championing the importance of living healthy lifestyles so that youth can see that there are positive alternative lifestyles options rather than drinking or doing drugs for fun.

Currently the A! Health Champions, have received various achievements such as reduction in pregnancies in the various university campus, and they have been finalists for various organizations such as the Innovation Hub, SABC Ventures and have received funding and support from their communities. They have trained over 140 HIV Counsellors and are assisting in increasing the pass rate in nursing schools while advocating for youth-friendly clinics nationally. And we are only getting started.

How will the A! Health Sector keep the fire burning? It will be hosting its 1st A! Health Bosberaad, in partnership with FEM and HOSPERSA. A bosberaad is an exclusive get-away to a secluded venue, usually in the bundus, that politicians used to attend during the apartheid era, to end political deadlocks. The A! Health Bosberaad will take place on the 1st to the 4th of November, 2017. 30 Activators from across the country, will come together with a goal to strategise for our future community initiatives and our role in implementing the National Adolescent and Youth Health Policy 2017. The A! Health Champions Pledge Ceremony will be the After Party of the Year. Tickets are sold out! Don’t miss the next one if you are an Activator who is a health professional or working in a health initiative and would like to join the A! Health Champions.

We have exciting plans for the next couple of years and are also in the process of working with exciting partners that will help us grow the impact in our communities. Join us!

https://chat.whatsapp.com/7ut44GWUjsBEHpXSwYy0QA

We are the alternative!

#YouthHealthMatters

 

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Promoting education and peace beyond 16 Days of Activism

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

27 October 2017

RE: ACTIVATE! Promoting education and peace beyond 16 Days of Activism #Committed2Peace #YESPeace

 On the 28th October 2017, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers and Africa Unite; affiliates of the YESPeace Network will collaborate to host a peer educator workshop in Cape Town, South Africa. The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4.7 Interconnectedness, Gender and Human Rights: Youth Training Workshop will endeavour to promote quality education on gender and human rights to enhance a sense of interconnectedness as a strategy to respond to the challenge of gender based violence.

As South Africa gears itself towards observing the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, it is important to reflect on how communities can be empowered to respond to the pressing challenge of gender injustice. The high incidence of rape cases, as well as other forms of physical and psychological abuse of women and girls and the LGBTIQA+ community in South Africa represent a profound social challenge affecting communities across the South African society. Given this, our efforts to build peaceful, interconnected and sustainable communities across the country must be cognizant of the dire need to address challenges facing the most vulnerable in society.

In light of the above stated the SDG 4.7 Interconnectedness, Gender and Human Rights: Youth Training Workshop will essentially aim to empower young leaders from in and around Cape Town with key competencies to actively contribute towards building peaceful, interconnected and sustainable communities across the Western Cape.

Participants will come from various community based and youth development organisations including the International Peace Youth Group, Social Services at City of Cape Town, the Khayelitsha Peace Building Team, Gender Works, Inclusive and Affirming Ministries and Youth Coalition to name a few.

The SDG 4.7 Interconnectedness, Gender and Human Rights: Youth Training Workshop will be arranged under the following arrangements:

Date: 28 October 2017

Venue: Africa Unite

6 Spin Street

Cape Town

Time: 09:00-16:00

The workshop is an initiative of the YESPeace Network which is a collaborative effort, led by UNESCO MGIEP, aimed at transforming education to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), especially Target 4.7.

About ACTIVATE!:

ACTIVATE! is a network of young leaders equipped to drive change for the public good across South Africa. Connecting youth who have the skills, sense of self and spark to address tough challenges and initiate innovative and creative solutions that can reshape our society.

ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook : Activate Change Drivers

Twitter : @ActivateZA

Instagram: @activate_za

For media related queries, please contact:

Zilungile Athenjwa Zimela

Communications/ P.R

Cell: 078 255 3378

E-mail: zilungile@localhost

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crime stats 2017 – Here are the facts via Africa Check

This week, Minister Fikile Mbalula released the crime statistics for the period 2016-2017. The fact sheet by Africa Check provides a breakdown of the main crimes of public interest. What are your thoughts?

 

Follow-up on Activators who attended the Innovation Summit 2017

Activators reign supreme at the Innovation Summit

Financial literacy activist from Butterworth, Xolisile Malgas and food security campaigner from Tsolo Nkululeko Ngqinambi along with anti-drug abuse Port Elizabeth based Aloma Malgas scooped entrepreneurial partnerships at the 2017 Innovation Summit that took place on the 6th to the 8th of September at the Cape Town Stadium.

The Innovation Summit supports and promotes innovation and facilitates collaboration between people to inspire sustained economic growth in South Africa. The outcomes achieved by the Summit, amplify and revive South Africa’s renowned competitive edge and it is a powerful tool to bring together thought leaders and practitioners in the field of innovation, show-case success stories, provide entrepreneurial support and accelerate growth.

The Grahamstown based social entrepreneur Nkululeko is the founder of Arum, an agriculture organic fertiliser (Smart Grow) producing enterprise. He applauds ACTIVATE! for linking him up with what he describes as “eye-opening business accelerating platforms’’ that has not just empowered him as an entrepreneur but also opened dozens of doors that will see his social enterprise grow faster than he ever thought.

“The Innovation Summit was the best thing to have ever happened to my entrepreneurial and community development journey. Some of my highlights were, securing big clients for my business, direct genuine one-on-one engagement with corporate sector decision maker and investors, short mentorship experience by Agri tech Director of Innovation Summit from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and most importantly getting the invite for my project at their Symposium in Sandton. That minor success alone, I could only have received through ACTIVATE! training,” he said.

Aloma Malgas whose project “Rea Thusa” addresses thuggery and drug abuse in one of the notorious townships in Port Elizabeth was one young person that was funded at this year’s SA Innovation Summit. She intends to extend her organisation’s reach and impact.

The Innovation Summit was a big eye-opener for me. The platform gave me a great opportunity to access and communicate directly to business captains, investors, social entrepreneurs, academics, innovation experts and fellow social change drivers. The lessons I have learned from ACTIVATE! training programmes like Switch really proved to be helpful for me as a social entrepreneur.  I used the opportunity to learn as much as I could, network, market myself and my organisation. I would like to thank ACTIVATE!  They revived my social entrepreneurial spirit. A number of interesting presentations reminded me that indeed there are lots of bad reasons to start a company. But there is only one good, legitimate reason, and I think you know what it is: it’s to change the world,” said Aloma.

On the other hand, the marketing and business development specialist based in Butterworth (Aloma) is the founder of early childhood financial literacy and emotional intelligence called Mwanga Youth Development Fund. According to Aloma, the East London grade 8 to 12 schooling pupils’ money saving entrenching social enterprise might not have received funding but formidable partnership it formed are far bigger than he can ever bargain for at this stage of his business.

“We did not win anything at the summit there was no competition but the summit offered a networking channel that you could set up meetings and do small presentations about your product or project to potential investors and partners and this was the case for Mwanga Youth Development Fund.”

“A startup company called MenUP Industries saw our value and scheduled a meeting with us. The meeting resulted in our businesses agreeing that MenUP will assist us in developing of a financial literacy accreditation standard module, preparing funding proposals and developing a strategic approach and sustainability model,” said Aloma.

Event coordinators and social change drivers Lezerine Mashaba and Claire Gemmill confirmed that the three Eastern Cape based social change drivers were among the 27 Activators from all over the country who applied with their startup businesses or social development projects and won tickets to attend this year’s conference. Claire said many of the Activators present made great connections with investors and other mentorship support.

“It was an exciting space to gain new insights and information on what entrepreneurship looks like across South Africa and the continent. It was really incredible to see and hear all the enthusiasm from Activators who were stepping up to promote their innovative projects and businesses. Some had a chance to pitch and attributed it to the confidence gained in the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers residential training programme, which equips Activators with public speaking, dialogue and debating skills, among others. The Summit was really a success and people took a lot away from the experience,” said Gemmill

 

 

Teen Suicide

By Matome T. Aphane

According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, about 31% of teen suicide attempts required medical treatment and 17% of teenagers have attempted suicide with 15.6% having made a plan to do it.

In addition, 9% of all teen deaths are caused by suicide and this figure is increasing. Suicide is the second leading and fastest growing cause of death in the world.

Affected teenagers are between 15 – 24 years, but recent reports showed that children as young as 7 years have committed suicide in South Africa. These incidents and others were reported in the past few months in some provinces including Gauteng, Mpumalanga and others. These incidents are shocking and depressing.

I believe teen suicide is caused by lack of support from the family, fights within family, any form of abuse and feeling neglected by society and family but statistics showed that most of child suicide is caused by cyberbullying.

Most of the parents, especially black Africans, parents still believe and have stereotype that a child cannot be diagnosed with stress or depression, as a results they ignore the symptoms or signs of stress or depression among their children which leads to a child to commit suicide or attempt. This is a serious matter which needs an urgent intervention.

The Department of Social Development, local municipalities and civil societies need to create more educational campaigns and outreach programs to educate communities on how to see signs and prevent suicide. This intervention will produce good results and safe spaces for the future generation.

 

Important numbers:

The South African Depression And Anxiety Group (SADAG) – 011 234 4837

Lifeline – 0861 322 322

 

Image source: HealthUnits

Reflections on #SwitchSeminar2017

This past weekend, 56 delegates attended the annual Switch Seminar held at the Standard Bank Incubator in Johannesburg. Upon reflecting on the seminar, this is what several Switchers had to say:

Prudens Mtsweni

“The Switch programme has taken my mind and put me on a journey where it shifted my thinking to an innovative person passionate about business. I took time to research and learn about everything which involves health to understanding the human body as a whole. The Switch Seminar made things even more interesting by bringing in  amazing speakers which made me identify my weakness and gave me direction on how can I use them to my advantage and succeed. The speakers made me realise that I doubt myself too much because I think I don’t have enough knowledge and experience while I have the potential to carry this journey and be a success. Even though people do not understand why I took so long to start my company they will now see that I was not just building a company but a legacy.”

Shaun Manala

“On day one I learned alot about mentorship and understanding funders. Understanding funders was a presentation that opened my mind and now I understand what I should have before approaching funders.
On day two I learned to understand my personal finance and how to have a budget in place in order to be in a good financial position. I’ve managed to get all that I’ve wanted for my project to start running. This seminar has made changes in me. All thanks to Carrie!”

Vusi Tshabalala

Day 1 – “We all know what we want to do and have an idea how,coming to the seminar from all the different speakers from different sectors and views gives you that extra push you need,reignites the passion, repositions you to the right track and challenges you to close the. Seeing other Switches also encourages getting those partnerships and exchanging best practices.”

Day 2 – “The session was mind blowing and brain freezing at the same time as you ask yourself all those difficult questions that we always avoid or run away from. As a true social entrepreneur we have to answer them because we work with peoples lives. This seminar has been a complete cake with balanced ingredients, cream and the cherry on top.”
Sinqobile Mkhwanazi 
“Day one of the seminar was very interesting. I learned that getting funding is often more about the person than the project. If I do not have passion for my project, how do I expect to receive funding? As much as funders want to see profit, they also want to see purpose and impact. I’m driving change not just in my community but globally as I have this A! Network at my disposal.”
Thulani Sejo
“I learned so much from this seminar but what stood out for me the most, is a reminder to always stick to the basics , knowing want your target customers and beneficiaries really want. The two sessions that stood out the most from day 1 were  Dave, unpacking what funders are looking for , is a great way to determine whether or not you are ready to apply. Also highlighting the importance of researching and finding the right funder who is best suitable for your project.  Portia, and her story  made it so easy to relate to her. As a young entrepreneur, you will be faced with obstacles and even get to a point where you feel like you have reached rock bottom. However “the bottom is the perfect start. It is important to stay routed in your goals and firmly believe in your projects success”
“Day 2 – Was definitely a wake up call. Going back to basics should be a the top of the agenda.the personal finance session basically showed all of us that if w are not aware of tour personal spending habits, then the same habit will reflect in your business. Therefore budgeting and collecting financial records are important to measure growth.”

Switch profile – Molope Ramolotja

Peer Education Easily Explained

Peer education is a process or communication channel that can be used over trainings, teachings or sharing of information. Educating people on values and behaviour whom may share the same background or experience. Peer education seek no have impact on behaviour through peer interaction

Peer education best happen at colleges, schools, workplace, clinic, in the different communities and organizations, also among youth

The purpose of peer education is to encourage knowledge a attitude and intention to change behaviour, Also it encourage positive choice in a way of rendering personal support, listening to different point of view of others referring people and promote an enabling environment

Benefits of Peer Education

  1. Contribute to words an increase in knowledge, skills, values and attitude
  2. Enhance health seeking behaviour
  3. Reduce risk behaviour
  4. Promote resilience
  5. Rectify or influence a situation As a result when a peer is been educated by other peer it become more easier to inform of modelling of desire behaviour as a highly developed method of education in school

2.2.1.2 How do group processed promote learning

By knowing the participants and their different organs, it will make it easy to identify who is good at what and will work well together, also plan the group accordingly experience and knowledge also help the group people according to their given tasks

The role of peer educator is to gather information over the issue at hand and to provide a suitable learning environment. By creating condition for participant to engage with the information. Over the engagement facilitator can gain a through Basis of knowledge on the subject/issue of the workshop

  • Formal
  • Informal
  • Facilitator’s role

 

Picture source: Google

Pro-choice is Pro-life

By Nomtika Mjwana

Why does it cost people with uteri their lives to have a choice? Why is the abortion conversation so mystified and highly contested when people die every year, when the World Health Organisation (WHO) states that globally every 8 minutes a woman dies from causes related to unsafe abortion? That makes it a matter of urgency, but for many reasons that further perpetuate abortion stigma, this remains a neglected issue.

Abortion in South Africa

Our beloved country is no different, and may as well be feeding greatly to these shocking global statistics. Abortion has always been legal in South Africa under the Abortion sterilisation Act, but restricted to special cases. It was then liberalised in 1996 allowing for any woman of any age to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, and was further liberalised in the early 2000s to enable trained nurses alongside midwives to perform first trimester abortions (medical abortions in the first three months of the pregnancy), and provisions to report illegal providers. There are abortion guidelines which are currently being updated for this. The guidelines further breakdown aspects such as who can perform which abortions and referral protocol for healthcare workers.

This year, South Africa marked 20 years since the liberal abortion act was passed. The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act (CTOPA) states that any woman of any age can have an abortion in South Africa, not needing anyone’s consent but their own. It is acknowledged as one of the most progressive abortion laws globally, but as one would guess, there is poor implementation. The consequence to this is an estimated 10% of maternal deaths being from unsafe abortions in South Africa. Only 40% or less of the designated facilities that are supposed to offer this service are actually operational, which could also be the reason that an approximate 50% of abortions that take place are through illegal providers. As if this alone is not bad enough, we have not discussed the shaming, policing and stigma women[1] face during this process, which may alone be the reason ‘women’ would opt for illegal providers.

However through all this, let us recognise the growing number of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) that are resisting in this space. Young femmes are doing incredible work in engaging on this issue.

Abortion interventions in SA- September 28 and beyond

September 28 marked the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion, which is an internationally recognised day originating in Latin America and the Caribbean, where women’s groups have been mobilising around September 28 for the last two decades to demand their governments to decriminalise abortion, to provide access to safe and affordable abortion services and to end stigma and discrimination towards women who choose to have an abortion. This day then became internationally recognised, and more CSOs and some governments had since adopted it as a day for amplifying campaigns for access to safe abortion.  The Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition (SRJC), FEMRSA, and the End Abortion Stigma Initiative (EASI) are amongst the South African CSOs who took part actively on this day.

FemRSA removing illegal abortion pamphlets and pasting legit abortion referral stickers.

Kanyisa Booi works with FEMRSA, an organisation that seeks to create access to safe abortion through digital communication channels. They are counted as one of the organisations mapping abortion services in the country and where possible, being a referral system for women seeking abortions. FEMRSA organised a wonderful initiative of removing as many unsafe abortion stickers as possible around the city of Johannesburg. This initiative was led and attended by young people in the city. “We know that abortion is legal in South Africa. We also know that a lot of women are vulnerable to unsafe abortion providers. When FEM made the call to remove illegal abortion provider posters it was a way for us to conscientize (editor can use create awareness) young South Africans on the reality of unsafe abortions in the country, but also to make them realise how they can play a part in driving change in this context”, said Kanyisa.

Activator Nomtika next to an abortion art piece “Entering the void” which represents the missing narratives in our understanding of prochoice politics. The art piece is by Zola Ndimande.

The Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition (SRJCSA) held a series of panel discussions at Rhodes University, SWEAT (a sex worker advocacy group) and the Soul City Institute and at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. These panel discussions were addressing intersecting issues of access to safe abortion such as sex work, referral systems and protocols and understanding abortion in the context of reproductive rights and justice. “Medicine is a science, and we must respect that science. Abortion is abortion, a medical procedure. We cannot be calling it Termination of Pregnancy (TOP) as a way to reduce stigma- that further perpetuates the stigma. We must call it what it is”, said Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng (SRJC Vice Chairperson) when she was speaking at the Human Rights Council, calling out people who were suggesting that abortion rather be referred to just as Termination of Pregnancy as a way to get people to listen.

These amazing conversations and interventions did not end in September 28. On October 5th, the End Abortion Stigma Initiative organised an exhibition of abortion stories, Body of work: Abortion Conversations. The exhibition was full of young artist displaying abortion narratives through art pieces. Kea, a young artist from Klerksdorp, was exhibiting a piece called “I dare you to call home”, and the concept behind that was an experience she was sharing on how lonely going through an abortion can be, that one can’t even call home. “ I have so many close friends and family, but going through that I could not tell anyone because of the stigma attached to it”, she said.

 

[1] The Choice on termination of pregnancy act defines “woman” as any female person of any age.

Koketso Marishane 2030 brand ambassador

By Ramadimetja Makgeru

South Africa’s National Development Plan, launched in 2012, is a detailed blueprint for how the country can eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by the year 2030. On the 28th of September, minister in the presidency, Jeff Radebe, hosted  the official NDP 2030 Brand Ambassadors launch which took place in Rivonia.

The ambasassadors, 10 in total, were selected for the excellent work that they are doing for the country. Ga-Marishane born activator, Koketso Marishane is one of the 10 ambassadors and was kind enough to share his story.

How did you get selected to be the NDP 2030 Brand Ambassador?

“I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by beautiful positive spirits that understand the language of my heart. As a result, such people entered my name for various national and international competitions and I won them. Judging from my track record as a youth activist from childhood, travelling the different countries as I did to represent my country SA, the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) found it fit to recognise me for my contributions in the country and internationally by offering an award which I received in March during the 2nd South African Youth Awards.”

Who is Koketso Marishane?

Koketso Marishane is an internationally recognised trailblazer in the social sciences sector from Marishane Authority in South Africa. My journey in life as is typical of the story of a Visionary Pan-African sojourner, has been made possible by many a loving heart, and by a confluence of events and circumstances that only God can fully comprehend.

“To remain calm, pen and paper became my best friends, doing artistic endeavours which included articles and poems which led me to literary emperors in the global space. I can proudly say, I’ve seen further because for a long time, I’ve been standing on shoulders of giants.”

“I’m a social entrepreneur at heart, more on a facilitation side. I’ve worked in government, private and NGOs around the world in consulting. I’m a lover of the arts, especially the performing scene. I’m a writer and editor with various publications and I run book reading sessions that rock!”

“In words, I’d say the challenge with being around me or people like myself sometimes is that everyone you’d have a conversation with is a walking dictionary, a moving library & a standing book-shelf. The minute our mouths open you realise that everyone is a creator of conflict, a sculptor of drama and inventors of character. All have multiple personalities that articulates through voices. They are crazy, beautiful and intelligent. And damnit! I am one them.”

“On a general view, I have so much experience to understand that behind me is infinite power, before me is endless possibility and around me is boundless opportunity. On a smaller scale, am nothing extraordinary, simply your average everyday undiscovered humble world leader and friend.”

“Formally, my soft-diplomatic contributions to the socio-economic development of South Africa and the world (UN) gained me an arm length of national and international accolades. To date, I am still actively involved in local and international organisations and I see my greatest challenge as accepting that the outcomes of my contributions to the world may only be felt in the long term. Affectionally known as ‘Koks’, I have worked in multilateral organisations and the private sector and am presently looking for new opportunities to broaden my expertise and to contribute extensively to the development of the Social Sciences sector globally.”

Listen to his interview on Thobela Fm

 

The Igniter Of Hope

By Action Setaka

A typical ex-offender struggles to reconnect with the world. Battles to bear the pain and suffering that comes with stigmatisation, but in the midst of all Activator Vuyo Nekile is during on all cylinders to make South Africa a better place to live in. He rose above pain and despair to become a role model, an unsung hero and a father to many young people of South Africa. He has grazed the airwaves with his iconic voice at Radio Grahamstown for 8 years as a presenter in a number of shows which mostly involve talk shows, preaching and news reading.

His name says it all. This is one gentleman where happiness and joy can be seen in a human form. A networker par excellence and a versatile motivational speaker with infectious sense of humour. Vuyo’s presence in the room sparks a flame of hope and happiness. He brings joy in the midst of despair. He is a Pioneer of development with great personality.

This selfless igniter of people’s hopes says joining ACTIVATE! in 2013 was one of the best choices he has made in his lifetime. To him ACTIVATE! is an archetype of the world he envisages; that is a forgiving world where there is zero judgment regardless of your past, where you have a network of people that inspire you in times of defeats and hardships, your support structure which strengthens you in times of uncertainties and fears, a world of opportunities and possibilities. He believes that the world needs more love instead of judging and misguided perceptions.

His opinion on existing government policies is that ex-offenders will always be likely to re-commit crime because if they are isolated in the mainstream economy and they don’t receive opportunities which will assist them to progress in life. As a result of this painful reality, this igniter of hope and seasoned community developer established an organisation called “Life Goes On” which aims to empower young people through life skills, business and other skills development programs i.e. computer studies, fashion design, plumbing, welding, etc. He calls on all progressives, government and private sector to partner with him in growing this brand which aims at creating a crime-free world.

He also owns a transport business and freelances as a motivational speaker in churches, schools and organised groups. We have faith that the struggle for injustices, unequal opportunities and crime will be well fought with him on the saddle.

Vuyo is driven by a mantra which says “Make the most out of your opportunities. No matter how big or small in the eyes of the people, be grateful that you have something many people in this world wishes”.

 

 

Gift Methule: Across The Border

My mind is constantly on the move. Boarding planes, buses and ships across the world. There’s a revolution of the voices that bring change. Cynthia Untamed has finally crossed the border over to South Africa. It’s amazing to bring these stories to life. Gift Methule is from Mpumalanga Province in South Africa and is currently here (Kenya) on an exchange program. He considers himself as an activist and youth organiser. One of the organisations that he works with in South Africa is called ACTIVATE! Change Drivers. He was trained on many skills such as public innovation and leadership. He is the station coordinator there. His office deals with collecting data from information centres, verify that they are credible and then distribute it to the youth.

They are keen on organising dialogues between the youth and their leaders. Gift is keen on encouraging young people in South Africa to engage with the government. They do this by teaching them about government procedures, policies and how to approach the government using appropriate procedures.

‘I also work with an organisation called Mamkhulu.org that empowers young children by teaching them about the dangers of drug abuse and dangerous criminal activities. Teen mothers are also encouraged to keep their children. We give them a conducive environment to accept their children and empower themselves. I am personally in charge of agricultural empowerment,’ he elaborates.

His focus also lies in helping the youth to commercialise their talents because he appreciates that not all children are academically gifted. The main challenge facing South African youth is unemployment, a striking similarity to many nations. He therefore urges young people not to rely on the government to get job opportunities but rather identify a niche in the markets and make money from that.

‘I am impressed by the kind of innovations being done by Kenyan youth who have taken technology very seriously. I am encouraged by the apps being created in this country to solve common problems in the community like M-FARM, an app that empowers farmers,’ he reflects. Gift describes Kenya as a beautiful country and hopes to explore more by going for cultural events and visiting areas such as Kibera where he hopes to collect positive stories of the day to day lives of the people living there.

The importance of engaging people cannot be underestimated. He stresses that if you talk about the issues affecting youth, then they must be present because the people with the problem are those who have the solutions. Education should accommodate different perspectives. It shouldn’t be all about getting a degree and commercialising the sector. Life is about how you impact people in terms of uplifting your community. Any form of education therefore, can be the key to success.

There is a wide misconception that black people don’t read. This is totally false according to Gift because he believes that reading is a choice, not a race issue. He is concerned about the fact that most people are still afraid about talking about the things that matter such as tribe. He appreciates the fact that South Africans have embraced each other regardless of tribe although he attributes this to their history with apartheid.

His hope for the future is to see himself impacting more people in his community. He wants to keep growing as a community builder. Further, he wants to see the youth believing in Africa as a continent. He would like to see them building their own narrative and creating change.

‘The future belongs to everyone and it is up to everyone to make their future brighter,’ he asserts.

 

Originally published from Cynthia Untamed.