Yolokazi Mfuto attends international conference in Ghana

When I first learned that I will be going to Ghana to attend the International Model UN conference in Accra from the 3rd -7th January, I was ecstatic! I knew God had answered my prayers and finally I was realising one of my goals. The experience in Ghana exceeded my expectations. Ghanaians are so friendly and kind to visitors, I will never forget their hospitality. I didn’t know that Africa was so rich with young minds eager to learn. The model UN conference is aimed at helping the youth understand and emulate the work of the United Nations so that we find a better way of discussing critical issues without violence or rage.

The conference was separated into committees which are entities of the UN. The committee I was part of is the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the topic we were discussing is: “Agri-business and rural entrepreneurship in eradicating poverty.” Over 20 delegates formed part of my committee where we discussed, debated and came out with resolutions that can be implemented throughout the world. Some of the discussions were based on empowering small holder farmers; how to deal with drought; educating the youth about the importance of agriculture and helping those who live in rural areas cultivate their lands.

I thought representing the country of Netherlands whilst coming from South Africa would be daunting, however I found it to be more educational. After this experience, I’m more knowledgeable about what is happening in Western Europe and what we can learn from them as a country. At the General Assembly, all 193 countries of the UN were represented including my beloved South Africa, however I was saddened when I found out that we were only two from South Africa. I hope next time there will be a big group to attend this prestigious conference.

My dream is to have a Model UN conference here in South Africa. I believe we also have the potential to host conferences of this caliber where delegates will be equally honored to attend. One thing I would love to let my fellow South Africans know is that: “It always seem impossible until it’s done.” So never stop dreaming but pause and wake up to pursue your dreams so that you can sleep better at night- It is all doable, let’s just believe.

Equipping the youth

Name: Albert Moholola (Manoko)

Province: Gauteng

Albert describes himself as a caring and disciplined individual who promotes morals, transformation and education.

Why did you decide to be part of the ACTIVATE! Network?

Activate creates an environment where young people develop solid individual and collective identities while improving their self-worth. It connects young people with valuable skills.

What did you enjoy the most about training?

I enjoyed the space where we as young people are given a space to talk about our lives. Topics from training were inspiring. The singing, dancing and playing games were great fun.

How has training helped you or changed your perspective?

Because of training, I look at a given situation from different sides.

What do you think the role of the youth is in developing the country?

The youth ought to promote the culture and interests of the country. We must take care of ourselves and teach the younger generation while having fun.

What is your field of interest?

My field of interest includes hygiene, safety and education.

How would you like to drive change in your community?

I would like to tutor learners and motivate them with their academics.

Now that you have completed training, how do you plan to keep active in the network?

I will attend ACTIVATE! events to consistently connect with Activators

What are your plans for next year?

I would like to be part of the corperate world or join the SWITCH programme.

How will you be involving the network in your plans?

Inviting Activators to events I host.

Compassionate leadership

Name: Singata “JOLA” Dabata     

Province: Eastern Cape

Singata describes himself as a reliable, loving, soft spoken individual who likes to help others in need. He furthermore explains that he is goal orientated, full of charisma, gentle in heart and brilliant. 

Why did you decide to be part of the ACTIVATE! Network?

The decision was made based on various aspects, looking at my involvement in leadership and there was a gap that needed to be bridged which was expanding my horizon. Furthermore, there was a need to trigger the spark within me to execute and be involved in my community while trying to find solutions on the socio-economic ills that we encounter in our day-to-day lives.

What did you enjoy the most about training?

In module 1, I enjoyed the session of a past collage which taught me to be at peace with my past and be able to let go. The importance of knowing your identity and being able to rely on your principles and values as you progress in your life is important.

How has training helped you or changed your perspective?

The training helped me in many ways on how to navigate in solving the problems using object cards, also to scrutinise the situations you come across and not forgetting to look at the background where most solutions lie.

What do you think the role of the youth is in developing the country?

It is high time for the government to give the youth a chance to be part of democracy and policy making as I believe that the youth are the future engines that will build, mould and bring life to South Africa. Young blood is needed in all spheres of government and society to move forward. The country needs young intelligent people filled with great ideas that will enable the development of the country. 

What is your field of interest?

Leadership. I am passionate about leadership and what I have discovered is that leadership is not just about being a leader and have followers, but it’s about collaborating your vision and goals together with those whom you lead. Another thing is that we need to listen to our people and not to think, on their behalf but have a joint venture and to ensure that all goals are achieved at the end of the day. We need leaders that are not self-centred who think of themselves but leaders that will give all to his/her masses.

How are you driving change in your community / How would you like to drive change in your community?

 

I believe change starts within. It has come to my attention that we need to start having conversations on where our starting point is. In my community, we started a cycling club targeting the youth to keep them active and stay away from drugs and alcohol and in that way we foster leadership, communication workshops and life skills development. In the long run, this will have a positive impact on the community with regards to dropping drug abuse and alcohol abuse thereby grooming future leaders that will steer the nation forward.

Now that you have completed training, how do you plan to keep active in the network?

 I plan to collaborate with other Activators and get involve with projects that comes up.

What are your plans this year?

 I plan to enrol for SWITCH and Community Development Course. Start my own company/NPO.

How will you be involving the network in your plans?

I will be inviting Activators and publicise the working that I do through social media platforms. I will also reach out to Activators that would like to collaborate on projects of common interest and most of all be the marking agent for ACTIVATE!

Facebook: Singata Titsi Dabata

 Twitter handle: @SingataDabata

Instagram:@singata_dabata

Enterprise Development: A key to black sustenance

I started out my business and passion for working with small businesses in 2010. My company at the time was involved largely in project management consulting. My company managed training and construction projects for clients. As I grew in this field, I then began to add business consultation to my services wherein I would offer after training support to businesses that were sponsored by corporate. The services included business plan development, marketing plan development, corporate branding etc. until I pursued projects I was managing myself.

I then secured a construction project with a business partner of mine which was when everything fell apart. Yet, at the same time, it was at this very trying moment in my business life that I found my purpose. I realised that the statistic that at least 8 out 10 businesses fail in their first five years of operation was based on surveys done in township and rural South Africa for the most part. That most businesses that were in suburbia and city centres were well supported and had the right ‘stuff’ to succeed.

I then dedicated two years of my life to researching the enterprise development space and understanding how it plays a role in shaping up economies where businesses are set to fail even before they started.

The programme

My programme speaks directly to the lack of sustainable economies in township and rural South Africa (predominantly black areas). Due to the amount of time it took me to do the research and to build the concept, the programme has not effectively started. Yet is now at an almost advanced stage. Commencement is a matter of signatures away.

The premise is simple really. Every business has an ecosystem. The most unfortunate reality for black small businesses in township and rural areas is that people are always doing business only where the lower hanging fruit are vast. This creates saturation of products and services and shrinks market share, which secures inevitable failure. So the ecosystem; take a very common low hanging (yet incredibly profitable) fruit, the KOTA; this is a very common business in black communities both in rural and semi urban areas. It is a meal that soothes the heart like nothing else can. Usually the business that makes KOTA is the often the only business in that area that benefits from this ecosystem. The ecosystem for the making of KOTA consists of the following: potatoes (crop farming), fish oil (crop farming and processing), meat products (livestock farming), cheese (agro-processing and milk) etc. let us decide these are what are involved as raw material to make a KOTA. The reality is that all these are still businesses run by white capital and very seldom are black people in these areas found playing in such arenas.

This programme seeks to create a disruption in ‘business as usual’. The programme’s end goal is to see townships, semi-urban, and rural areas across the country building businesses that play in the ecosystem of every product and service they consume in order to create sustainable economies that are thriving, employing and building communities all at the same time.

I personally believe that the single greatest root cause of many a mankind’s ills is or can be directly linked to a lack of financial resource. When communities have the ability to produce, when they own means of production in order to gain financially as their white counterparts do, when they are in a position to create their own economy and, a rand can safely circulate within a given community (rural or semi-urban) at least more than 6 times, then only will we realise what a truly free nation looks like. And then we will celebrate the greatest achievements of human endowment in these residential demographics.

Enterprise Development is the salvation of small businesses. Socialism is the real wave pushing towards a truly free nation. 

Facebook: Nhlanhla Ndlovu

Twitter: @Ndlovu_N1

Cellphone: 076 689 6231

PRESS RELEASE: Young Social Entrepreneur Saves The Country One Schoolbag At A Time

Despite efforts by the government, South African youth are still confronted by a myriad of challenges including limited access to education due to social imbalances. As indicated by the National Development Plan, these challenges can be eliminated by 2030 through a collective effort by the citizens and the government. A young man from Wattville in Benoni, Xolane Ngobozana is contributing towards this plan through his campaign, the National Donate a Schoolbag Campaign.

The 31 year old social entrepreneur is one of 2000 young change makers across South Africa who are finding innovative ways to transform their communities and the country as a whole. These young leaders, also known as “Activators” belong to ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, a network that connects and equips them with necessary knowhow and resources to thrive in their respective efforts.

Ngobozana launched the National Donate a Schoolbag Campaign at the beginning of this year to help ease the burdens of the South African education system. “The Department of Education ensures that the youth receives quality education. However, there are many factors that are disrupting the system. For example, a lot of learners in disadvantaged areas carry their books in plastic bags as their parents can’t afford decent schoolbags for them. As a result, their books are damaged and they easily lose their stationery, which affects their overall performance at school.  Some of them end up dropping out and the cycle of poverty regenerates,” he says.

To partly salvage the situation, the National Donate a Schoolbag Campaign provides underprivileged learners across the country with decent school bags and other basic learning tools.  The goal is to raise at least 100 000 school bags between 2016 and 2017 and donate them to more than 100 schools all around the country.  So far, Ngobozana and his team of provincial coordinators have raised 350 schoolbags and some stationery, which were donated to underprivileged learners and child-headed homes in Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo and KwaZulu Natal.

Ngobozana continues, “My vision for the National Donate a Schoolbag Campaign goes beyond just providing schoolbags and stationery to learners. The campaign is a transformational movement with an ultimate goal to secure the future of our country. It is important to ensure that our future leaders are armed with education and the right skills in order to reshape South Africa.”

To raise funds for the campaign, Ngobozana and his team have been hosting a series of fundraising events in all nine provinces throughout the year. The team is determined to reach its target and will continue hosting the fundraising events through to 2017.

For more information on the National Donate a Schoolbag Campaign or to donate contact Ngobozane on 061 377 0745/0730092953 or ndasbcamapaign@gmail.com.

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

For media related queries, please contact:

Nelisa Ngqulana

Communications Manager: ACTIVATE! Change Drivers

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

Cell: 073 817 8017


Fickle American politics

Many people, myself included, were convinced that Hillary Clinton would win. We were so deeply convinced that we refused to listen to logic nor answer critical questions: What if Donald Trump wins?

Most public figures, dare I say ‘celebrities’, couldn’t read the signs, thus placed themselves in critical positions before the media, promising to leave the US should Trump win. They are now refusing, we hear, to respond to journalists who wish to follow up on the promises made. We know them by name.

The obvious danger of the Trump discourse is its’ potential to overshadow other important lessons – lessons beyond who deleted how many emails and who fondled whose breasts. This may remind South Africans of what happened during the ‘don’t touch me on my studio’ fiasco.

Why should we care about US politics?

Many people ask: Why are we concerning ourselves with American politics because we have our own mess to face? The reality is, USA matters in international politics particularly since the end of the First World War (WWI). Joining the WWI only in 1917, historians still struggle in explaining how it overtook major players and positioned itself as a central force in the crafting of the post-1918 world political architecture with US president Woodrow Wilson placing himself at the centre of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, dislodging prime ministers George Clemenceau (France), David Lloyd George (United Kingdom) and Vittorio Orlando (Italy) to have his ‘Fourteen Points’ as the fundamental guide to the discussions. These points later became conference resolutions such as the creation of the League of Nations. 

These points were also a response to Russia’s Vladimir Lenin’s November 1917 text ‘Decree on Peace’, proposing Russia’s immediate exit from the war, and for a just and democratic peace.

The US matters as the world’s biggest economy, and as an exporter of both progressive and retrogressive penchants. 

It mattered in the toppling of Kwame Nkrumah, and in the events leading to the assassination of Muam­mar Gaddafi. It also matters in the African political economy: think of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act. It matters in the support of most emerging economies in globally (Young African Leadership Initiative,  Mandela WWashington Fellowship, etc).

While who becomes US president is most important, we need to go beyond the winner and loser to societies and norms.

The candidates

A lot can be learned about the 2016 US elections. Before the 8 November elections, most Americans agreed that these were the most interesting elections in the history of American electoral politics. It was for the first time that Americans were subjected to unpopular candidates amongst the citizens and in their own political parties. 

An American research firm (Gallup), had found that both Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Party presidential nominee Donald Trump had an unfavourable rating standing at 25%; they both failed to obtain higher approval rates amongst Americans. The firm further points out that in 2008, only 4% of Americans thought that the candidacy of both Barack Obama and John McCain were not ideal. In 2012, for Obama and Mitt Romney, the unfavourable figures stood at 13%. 

What led Americans here is a subject of wondering, pondering and soul searching, even amongst American political scientists. The American political system must be inspected for possible clues. 

By design, the American political system (inclusive of the constitution, state laws and political culture) favours two political parties. This arrangement is further reinforced by the media, civil society and even research institutions. It is, therefore, extremely difficult for a third party, and its’ candidates, to emerge. Indeed, although there are other political parties, the political culture declares them non-existent. The numbers speak volumes  

For example, let’s zoom in on the sidestepping of the Libertarian Party and the Green Party candidates, former New Mexico governor Garry Johnson (Libertarian) and Jill Stein (Green Party), who are believed to possess qualities that supersede those of both Trump and Clinton. So shocking is the reality that some Americans weren’t even aware of their existence. 

Mainstream media and research polls were not even interested in what they had to offer. It’s for this reason that they’re not even dignified with an opportunity to challenge Democratic and Republican candidates. Americans were generally dissatisfied with both Trump and Clinton, yet unwilling to look at ‘third’ and ‘fourth’ party candidates. Mind boggling isn’t it.

Apart from the political system, the quality of democracy is also eye-catching. Although more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump, she still failed to become President. In 2000, Al Gore got higher votes than George W Bush, who became President. 

For more than 100 years now, the US political system provides for the ‘Electoral College’, whereby each of the 50 states (seen only as either Republican, red – or Democrat, blue), depending on the population, are allocated delegates. It is the 538 electors attending the Electoral College who get to decide who the US president becomes. It is, indeed, a strange and puzzling arrangement that leads to one conclusion: Americans may be in a dichotomy of their own making; the prison of self.

For most armchair critics, the questions are: Will Trump change policies and build walls? Will international migration to USA decrease? Will America really be great again?

It’ll be interesting to learn how developments unfold when Trump officially enters office in 2017.

Koketso Marishane writes as a concerned citizen.

Photo credit: Haiku Deck