VBS Doing Mary Go Round on Poor South Africans

By Koketso Marishane


The South African public sector under the ANC government has become a nuisance, characterised by corruption among other malicious things. Seemingly, those who are connected to authority, will reveal how the country got to be where it is now.

Indeed, it seem the politicians in the ANC have read less of Conversations With Sons and Daughters by Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, Always Another Country by Msimang and We Need To Talk by Prof. Jonathan Jansen.

Unfortunately, that is the view we get when we scrutinise the report on VBS Mutual Bank by Adv. Terry Motau’s titled ‘The Great Bank Heist’. The tragedy with the VBS Bank plot is that billions of Rand from the poorest black people in South Africa have been stolen by rich and connected politicians for whom the vote chunk has put in power through the ballot box.

This refers to our beloved pensioners in deepest rural areas of South Africa. But then again, their immediate families are not affected hence one may ask: why are we surprised by this? After all, this is the same Mutual Bank that rose to prominence in 2016 after it had rescued the troubled and headstrong former President Jacob Zuma with a controversial loan of R7.8 million to pay for his Nkandla scandalous debt. From a distance, it did not make any business sense just how a Mutual Bank of such nature could plunge itself into such a risk.

However, not so long after the move, serious actions were made where 14 municipalities from the Limpopo, North-West and Gauteng Provinces inconveniently deposited approximately R1.5 billion of the public funds into the VBS Mutual (not commercial) Bank despite the fact that those transactions were said to be illegal in terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA). Did anyone care to act against these?

The Motau Report reveals that the ANC politicians have looted from the poorest black South Africans, approximately R2 billion. The collusion between the globally esteemed auditing firm and VBS Bank left the poorest rural black people of Limpopo high and thirsty. Surprisingly, instead of reporting the observable malicious deeds that were manifesting at the institution, the esteemed auditing firm decided to report no irregularities, which directly deepened the bank’s risk exposure and left its’ books in disarray.

The direct consequence of these actions, are that planned development projects in the various municipalities came to a standstill because the ANC-led government allowed the public purse to be diverted to the private pockets of their members and some political organisations. The Report fingers specific ANC people as the “kingpin’ of the scheme. The other 53 characters that stole the people’s money include tribal chief in Limpopo who is said to have pocketed R17.7 million.

Interesting, when there were calls for the VBS Mutual Bank to be liquited or put under curatorship when it experienced liquidity challenges, the EFF was loudly vocal in defence of the Bank as if they’re protecting public interest. The organisation stated that VBS was a “bank of black people”, which should have been saved. That note sounded authentic until recently when The Great Bank Heist Report revealed that a certain EFF member who is also the brother of the EFF’s senior politician, has stole about R16 million from the money of poor Black South Africans.

Recently, another media house went further and stated that EFF member “has allegedly received R1.3 million illegally from VBS Mutual Bank into the party’s bank account”. That media house, also wrote that “EFF senior politician’s younger brother, allegedly funnelled around R10 million through a company into a personal bank account belonging to EFF senior politician”.

Judging from the recent news, on Wednesday night Adv Motau SC, told the ENCA anchor that their Terms of Reference were limited to tracing and following the money flowing into the VBS Mutual Bank, and the one flowing out. But they could not go beyond the immediate entity or person who received money from the bank. He then expressed hope that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) would conduct thorough investigations beyond the imposed limiting Terms of Reference and recover all the money, while unleashing the might of the law against the culprits.

The vote chunk needs to ask the difficult questions: What type of a country has South Africa become where politicians are at liberty to mismanage the economy and steal the taxpayers’ money without any consequences? Presidents violate their Oaths of Office and the Constitution without any consequences. Parliaments abdicate their Constitutional authority and duty of holding the Executive accountable without any consequences. Politicians continuously steal the public money and get rewarded with ‘deployments’ into higher spaces of responsibility and higher paying offices. Cabinet Ministers lie under oath without any consequences. What has South Africa become?

As things stand, mindful of the South African dynamics, it’s most unlikely than not that about two thirds of the Members of Parliament and the Executive may go to jail. Like, what are the chances? In only a Quarter of a Century, the ruling party has run the country’s economy down the drain. That is all the reason why the vote chunk must take serious reconsideration on their options come election next year, which is briefly a few months from now.

Ultimately, the masses and the voters must work for South Africa to fulfil the South African Vision (NDP2030) that the nation has agreed upon, which entails that “South African belongs to all its people. We, the people, belong to one another, Our homes, neighbourhoods, villages, towns and cities are safe and filled with laughter. Through our institutions, we order our lives. And the faces of our children tell of the future we are crafting”.

Koketso Marishane writes as a concerned citizen.


“Exploring the Social Entrepreneurship Ecosystem in a South African Context” 13 – 14 October 2018 at Workshop17 Maboneng

DAY ONE Saturday 13 October SE Ecosystems & Financing

Time Session Facilitator

9:00 – 9:15 Welcome!

  • Why Workshop17 Maboneng?
  • Why Switch?

Westleigh – OPEN Nhlanhla, Claire – SSEP

9:15 – 9:45 Plenary: “Exploring Social Entrepreneurship

Ecosystem in a South African Context”

Belisa – Belle & Co.

9:45 – 10:30 Play: “Switchers Build an Ecosystem” Belisa – Belle & Co.

10:30 – 11:30 Networking Tea Capacity Building

11:20 – 12:10 Breakaway Sessions:

  • Why Social ENTREPRENEURSHIP (MTN Foundation)
  • The Art of Failing (BBC)
  • How to get funder ready (Black Umbrellas)

Guest Facilitators

12:10 – 13:10 Lunch

13:10 – 14:10 Maximizing Opportunities Interactive Session BBC, NYDA, RED Bull

Amaphiko, Black Umbrellas

14:10 – 14:45 How To: “Financial Modelling for Social


Asanda – ACTIVATE!

14:45 – 15:00 Working Tea

15:00 – 17:30 Digital Skills Training For Entrepreneurs Facebook

17:30 Closing and Thanks SSEP

DAY TWO Sunday 14 October Making an Impact

Time Session Facilitator

9:00 – 9:10 Welcome back! Nhlanhla – SSEP

9:10 – 9:40 Plenary: Inspirational SE story Greenpop CEO

BRICS Media Journal

9:40 – 10:30 Breakaway Sessions:

  • Building Your Narrative: “Power of storytelling & How to build your story”
  • Building M&E Indicators: “How To Plan For Impact”

Red Bull Amaphiko

Aliyah – ACTIVATE!

10:30 – 10:50 Networking Tea

10:50 – 11:50 Panel: “How ITC Plays a Role in the SE Ecosystem”

  • Q&A

Guest Panelists x 3 Switch Facilitator

11:50 – 12:15 Lessons from India: “A Startup Safari Experience” Penester & Vusi –


12:15 – 12:30 Insights: “Morning Lightbulb Moments”

12:30 – 13:30 Lunch

13:30 – 13:45 How to: “Pitch Like A Pro” Activators

13:45 – 16:00 Pitching Den Panelists

16:00 – 16:15 Announce Winners & Prizes

16:00 – 16:30 Closing Remarks & Thanks SSEP

The Great Depression – The Death of the African Child

By Tlotliso May

Depression has become a newsworthy issue. I have noticed, with time, that a lot of people have started talking about depression, and how a lot of young people are dying when they could easily get help. I have, sadly, at the same time noticed that there is an exponential rise in the suicide attempts, and sadly a lot of the said attempts are successful. In this opinion piece, I am going to discuss the two types of suicides and I will, lastly, enter a discourse on how depression has affected the black community and how black parents – admit it or not, have become catalysts for depression and why depression stays winning in claiming the lives of black kids!

I discussed with two friends last year, at the height of my depression, how most black kids who attempt suicide do not have an actual ideation of dying, but attempt suicide with hopes that their parents will realise how they are having a difficulty. There are basically two outcomes for suicide i.e. to make parents aware of the hardship that one has endured, often after years of being dismissed when you attempt to register a concern. The purpose of this kind of suicide is a cry for help, the kind of help that barely comes and is often offered a little too late. The second type of suicide is one that seems to be very prevalent in black communities and lately is largely observed in our institutions of higher learning where black students are seen to be on a suicide spree – usually to no fault of their own, this is an intentional type of suicide that most people dub as forwardness while to a certain extent I see bravery in ending one’s  misery after nights of having to turn your pillow to the other side because of the tears that one cries in vain because in black communities suicide barely comes, because of the culture that black parents have of crying over spilled milk – when the milk was shame, ignored and told how it does not compare to other brands of milk.

I wrote a while ago that “Depression thou art a cunning bitch” and I still stand by those words because depression in conquering the black communities seems to manipulate the way that we think and has created a space for itself in our communities. I believe depression stays winning in our communities because of two not-so-distinctive reasons i.e. the sheer ignorance displayed by black communities and the fact that black parents do not want to accept that even at our age we can be depressed. Black parents are always the last to find out that their child was depressed because our parents and the communities we live in dare tell us to stop acting white when we are found to be suffering from depression.

I am unfortunate to have felt the effect of a parent denying that their child an opportunity to feel because when last year needed, it ended on a very sad note for me after I finally admitted to my parents that for almost the past three years I have been harbouring depression and lately suicidal thoughts. I expected understanding and love from both my parents but to my surprise only my mother understood and my father instead suggested that I get prayed for, despite having asked that he invests in therapy. I later discovered that most of my fellow black people do not believe that depression exists and they go as far as condemning children  with depression symptoms as brats and accuse them of “Acting white” this is even worse if you’re a black man because we have been taught to distance ourselves from our emotions as far as possible.

Depression has plagued African families for a very long time and the increasing suicide rates call for urgent action. African parents need to wake up to the reality that the black child is dying in silence…

Featured Image Source: HSE

#ActivateSIS Launch

In 2017, ACTIVATE! participated in the SA Innovation Summit (SAIS) and as a result of our presence and impact last year, ACTIVATE! returns as an official partner to the summit, hosting Africa’s first Social Innovation Summit (SIS).

ACTIVATE! believes that social innovation is a tool that young people can use to empower and help communities. As the population of the country comprises of 60% youth, we encourage young people within the A! Network to be active solution providers to the numerous social ills that plague our communities. ACTIVATE! believes that innovation should be about the people, for the people, by the people and with the people. From the smallest acts of kindness to large income generating streams that speak to socioeconomic ills such as crime, poverty and youth unemployment (among others); young people are at the heart of real innovation. SIS highlights these young innovators by providing a platform to expose them and their ideas to spaces where they can meet and interact with potential investors.

#ActivateSIS will see 50 social innovators showcase their innovations which seek to tackle a specific social ill in their community in the categories of Health, Literacy, Active Citizenry, Youth Economic Participation and Interconnectedness and Inclusivity. These young people, along with our network of over 3500 young people and our great list of speakers are proof that the youth is in the process of building the future worthy of our longing!


Activator Thabo Pitso – A selfless force to be reckoned with

By Tlotliso May

Activator Thabo Pitso is a Free State born Activator who, among other things, is very passionate about literacy and unemployment that has plunged our young people. He has collaborated with other Activators to ensure that they do the little that they can in their respective corner of South Africa, the Free State – as is the very purpose of ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, to cultivate leaders that do all that they can to ensure that they create a change in the corner in their communities, in order to realise a much bigger impact. Beyond being a seasoned Activator and leader, he is an approachable person that can accommodate anybody who wants to be in his space for any reason – a very good and required quality for a person who is a change driver in their community. He has been working in the library space from 2015 and endured the associated hardship of volunteering until late 2017. In his tenure of volunteering at a community library, he also assisted learners in both primary and high school and primary with their homework and ensured that they also got assistance with their assignments.

As an Activator, his work is almost never over. He also established a feeding scheme to assist children that are from disadvantages families. Without much resources and a desperate need for help, Mr Pitso and his partners had to offer help only to those children that really need help and restrict their helping hand only to those learners that show this need for help. In 2015 July and December, respectively he held an event where he and the people that he partners with. In partnering with Activators: Sebina Ramaseli & Gregory Molefi (2017 Activators) an organisation called H.O.P.E which served the same purpose of assisting young people who are from disadvantaged backgrounds. This project also targets days such as Mandela Day – for its inherent giving nature and Christmas in an effort to ensure that the said children are able to feel like others when this merry day is celebrated.

Activator Thabo Pitso joined ACTIVATE! network in 2016 upon being referred to it by another Activator named Tshepo Mabuya. Activator Thabo Pitso also alludes his reason for joining ACTIVATE! to be his genuine wish to change the lives of young people, he believes that once young people are given expression to challenge the status quo in their respective communities, they will do so with overwhelming excellence. His modus operandi is always putting his community – especially young people first in all that he wishes to do, as far as his community activism is concerned. In his endeavours, he exhausts the human resource that ACTIVATE! offers for Activators post training – as he has partnered with Activators more than once, which essentially creates cohesion within his corner of the network services the mission that Activators have to “Dare create the future”.

Thabo currently works as a librarian under a programme of literacy led excellently by Activator Action Setaka. Upon realising that there are little to no jobs in this country a partnership which fosters innovation came about between Activator Thabo and Mothobi Tshabalala where they held a CV – Clinic Day, where they teach young people about what they should include in their CVs and what they should leave out such that they are suitable and more favourable candidates for their desired jobs – this programme was held in Makeleketla, Windburg. Despite the apparent financial and resource predicaments, Mr Pitso continues to assist young people with their school homework and provides them with business advice from registration and general business advisory – free of charge.

The challenge that Activator Pitso faces in carrying out his projects with other Activators includes, but is not limited to; finance, venues that projects can be executed from but also marketing material to ensure that a maximum amount of people reached and avail themselves for the said help – these aforesaid predicaments equal to nothing to a man of his stature who has devoted his life to changing the lives of the youth , most of the times he willingly uses his own funds to ensure that he contributes to the well-being of the young people in his constituency.

In the foreseeable future, Activator Pitso is planning to launch a vernacular Spelling Bee competition which will both embrace the Sesotho Language and ensure that learners take interest in literature, particularly that which is vernacular based. He also intends to start an ECD upon his completion of the community development course. This making up part of the many ideas that he has as far as changing the status quo regarding the state of the youth in this country.




2x Call Centre Agents for Recruitment of Activators

Opportunity closing date: Saturday 18 August 2018

Employment: Fixed term from 1 September to 14 December 2018

Siyashesha Leadership Incubator NPC is a non-profit, dynamic organization that develops skills, builds opportunity and connects young leaders from across South Africa through the Activate programme.

These incumbent will be reporting to the:

Recruitment Coordinator at Head Office 2

  • Engage with applicants telephonically
  • Facilitate the completion of Activator application forms via telephone
  • Engage and communicate in a professional manner
  • Friendly and effective service when answering calls
  • Ensure that interaction within the call centre is demonstrated at high level on a daily basis
  • First call resolution – ensure that all incoming and outgoing calls are managed by first call as far as possible
  • Facilitate the completion of telephonic interviews
  • Facilitate the completion of follow-up/confirmation calls for interviews

Call centre admin

  • Complete daily call tracking log sheet as a measurement for tracking queries
  • Ensure all administrative duties related to call centre activities are updated via the relevant system (Salesforce and/ or Google sheets issued by recruitment coordinator)
  • Report on targets achieved daily
  • Report any red flags to the recruitment coordinator as they arise
  • Manage the integrity of the data a. Submit time sheets on a weekly basis to the recruitment coordinator. Time sheets should be in by 4pm each Friday.
  • Assist in allocating successful candidates to a nodal or roving intake based on area/location

Recruitment strategic deliverables

  • Ensure all daily targets as set by recruitment coordinator are met
  • Issue reports and data to assist recruitment coordinator in measuring interaction and trends within the recruitment process and engagement with potential activators on a daily/ weekly basis as prescribed by recruitment coordinator.
  • Be aware of team coordination and how one fits into the larger recruitment and ACD functions
  • Ensure that tasks issued are managed and completed within the stipulated requirements and time-frames
  • Ensure that you are trained and up to date with Salesforce and any other systems implemented by the organisation and/ or the recruitment coordinator
  • Team work and innovation
  • Participate in daily target meetings and weekly updates
  • Promote creativity in the team
  • Engage with other portfolios as required
  • Operations and Human Resources
  • Ensure compliance with all HR policies as set by the portfolio and the organisation
  • Ensure that all equipment in your possession is handled with care and that a Custody of Electronic Equipment document has been signed and a copy issued to you for your records
  • Comply with the Assets Management policy and report theft and/ or damage immediately to the recruitment coordinator and Operations director
  • Ensure all relevant staff information documents have been completed and supporting information submitted
  • Ensure employee wellness prevails
  • Attend employee wellness sessions as required
  • Ensure staff safety is maintained at all times
  • In terms of Occupational health and safety, report any faults / hazards to the recruitment coordinator
  • Report Injury On Duty incidences to the recruitment coordinator


  • Be proficient in English and at least 1 other official language
  • Computer literacy – intermediate. Must be able to use Google sheets. Prior experience with Salesforce advantageous. Fast typer.
  • Grade 12 certificate
  • 1 – 2 years call centre experience
  • understands the phonetic alphabet


A successful candidate should be:

  • able to articulate him/herself well telephonically and is able to convey the recruitment and application messaging simply
  • friendly and professional
  • able to communicate enthusiastically
  • able to transcribe telephonic responses meaningfully and with as much detail as possible
  • acquitted with the geographical understanding of South Africa
  • working hours will be Monday to Friday from 8:30 until 14:30 /9:30 until 15:30

Remuneration: R 6000 per month pending experience

To apply, submit a CV and motivation letter with the subject line: Call Centre Agents to: hr@localhost by no later than 18 August 2018 No late CV’s will be considered. Please indicate if you applying for the Cape Town of Inland post.

Should no feedback be received within two weeks of the closing date, kindly accept that your application was not successful.


Tribute to Africa’s 2nd Saint

Imagining Women Inclusion for Women’s month
By Koketso Marishane
Once upon a time there was a lass named Manche Masemola, and she stood her ground in her conviction for social, cultural and religious justice. In her final words as a teenager, she said briefly: “I will be baptised with my blood”. To date, the world continues to remember her from the different corners of communities.
I am a social innovator, and I spent most of my time as a facilitator. I currently facilitate social inclusion programs that bring youth across gender, race, and class together to bridge their differences and build communities through the core values of open-mindedness and understanding.
Now and then, during my practice, I encounter to some extend, peculiar behavioral patterns shaped by environmental contexts needing communal attention for resolve. These include, among others: 
  • Systematic shifts of the perception of the entire community, women and men, to adopt a more inclusive and holistic approach to development. Hence, empowerment and advocacy need to tie hand-in-hand. 
  • Economically empowered women are an embodiment to what change can look like for their community.  Women social entrepreneurs are the living proof of women’s ability to participate in the economic process while enhancing social capital. Change must happen not through other people, but organically within the members of the community themselves.
Because we don’t live in ideal communities, we must challenge ourselves to use both material and immaterial things to work towards achieving our set long term national agenda. And this will happen when women are given the chance at appropriate and relevant platforms to be able to unleash and realise their potential, self-worth and restore dignity. It will be beyond the output of enabling women to self-finance their families, but to shift the perception of fathers, husbands, brothers and certainly all men to engage more women to participate in the economic and social sphere. It will change family dynamics. 
Women will gradually have more decision-making and financial power in the household, more girls will be sent to schools, domestic violence will be eliminated, maternal and child mortality rates will be reduced, and fertility rates will be lowered. It will spark a ripple effect in an organic manner that will shift perceptions towards greater gender equality on a systematic level. Dare I say, if President Barack Obama could do, we too, can do it!
Practical philosophy: 
To realise this vision, we need to constantly use innovative methods and tools to organise ourselves as people in communities, and bring together everyone (high school pupils, university students, artists, engineers, non-profit professionals, public officials and business professionals) to participate in cross-disciplinary collaborations. We need to continuously promote the human centered design thinking approach, which is a form of social innovation, to generate feasible solutions to solve our social issues in our communities.
Public participation:
South African President, H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa said the other time, that “the country needs national healing”. In order to make this healing process a success, we all need to ask ourselves the difficult questions: “what is my/ your/ our outrage?” What is an issue that me/ you/ we have always cared about? We need to develop a sense of self-knowledge of who we are, what our values, beliefs and strengths are in order to facilitate our inner capacity to transform change in the outer world. 
It doesn’t matter what we do, as long as we align our beliefs with our passion and expertise. Then, identify where we can fill in the gap within the wider society for that process of change to happen. We need to nullify the mythology that social entrepreneurs have to be founders because as research shows, people will eventually participate in the remaking of the field of social entrepreneurship when the value proposition is worthwhile.  
There is room for everybody. The bottom line is to do something we love, which will sustain our perseverance and strength to master it. We need to continue engaging in our communities and we’ll ultimately further our personal and communal growth. Because personal development and social progress is a mutually reinforcing process, we cannot exist without the other thus, like the former President of Ireland Ms. Mary Robinson has said in her book: My Life Giving Voice, everybody matters in the process of nation building as envisaged in the National Development Plan 2030 Vision of South Africa.
Koketso Marishane is the National Development Plan 2030 Vision Ambassador, founder of Marishane Youth Development Forum and writes as a concerned citizen.

Social Innovation- Making Ubuntu Fashionable

By Anele Gcwabe

In a world where there is a new buzz word every day, it is easy to get caught up in the hype of using trendy words. We often find ourselves going to extremes, overusing this “up-to-date’’ jargon in an attempt to remain current, we end up neglecting the essence behind these “new” words. In every space where prominent business owners and young people meet, you are guaranteed to hear the terms ‘Social entrepreneurship’, ‘Innovation’, ‘Social innovation’ and ‘Social change’. I cannot help but wonder how social innovation will ever work as a tool for social change when the jargon around this ideology repels the layman.

South Africa is fortunate because she has ACTIVATE! Change Drivers to make certain that we do not replace the heart with “meaningless” jargon. Let’s talk about Social Innovation.

Social Innovation can be described as a fresh way to solve a social problem. This solution is considered to be more effective, efficient; sustainable and generally useful to all members of the society. The core of social innovation is that it seeks to add value to society as a whole rather than just grow the profits of private individuals.  So, social innovation is ‘Ubuntu’ on steroids. Yes, steroids. Let me explain. In exactly the same way gym junkies use steroids to enhance muscle build up, social entrepreneurs combine the African model of ‘Ubuntu’ with the capitalist business model to fix social ills and earn an income while doing that. A combination of Ubuntu and entrepreneurship breeds social innovation. Using business as a force for good. Taking the village to market. Moving from ‘I’ to ‘We’. Taking small steps to global change. I could write a book.

ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is bringing ‘Ubuntu’ back (in exactly the same way Justin Timberlake brought sexy back) by hosting South Africa’s first ever Social Innovations Summit (SIS). After attending the South African Innovations Summit (SAIS) in 2017, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is partnering with SAIS to host the Social Innovations Summit within the Innovations Summit in September 2018.

Imagine a colourful assemblage of young and old in stimulating conversations about capitalism, global inequality and the role of business in society. Imagine a space where the leaders of tomorrow are sending a clear message to the business and political leaders of today.  Imagine a space where the business and political leaders of today are listening to the leaders of tomorrow. It sounds like magic, but it’s really just going back to the basics- unifying the community through the sharing of innovative (in simpler terms, ground-breaking) ideas.

You might be reading this and thinking that SAIS and ACTIVATE! Change Drivers are duplicating efforts by having a Social Innovation Summit within an Innovations Summit. I mean, it’s the same thing right? Wrong. Allow me to simplify it for you. The SAIS focuses on commercial innovation while ACTIVATE’s SIS will focus on social innovation. Although certain goals of these two innovation models overlap, commercial and social innovation often have very different goals. Innovation, on its own, may be very successful in a profit-making context but lacks the ability to address extreme social challenges. Using commercial innovation to address social issues would not only be a waste of resources, it would also break the trust between the enterprises and its consumers. Social innovation is fuelled by trust and social capital. These are two materials that are not easy to buy.

You can view commercial innovation and social innovation as twin sisters. One sister is very good with numbers and seeks to push profit-driven success at a large scale. The other sister is more concerned with how and where she can create the most impact in decreasing inequality and helping those who are in need of support. I’ll be a social innovator for a moment and give you an example that will highlight the difference between these two sisters.

Think of Gog’ uFlo’s orphanage down the road. Gogo saw that there were a lot of orphaned children in her community. Because of the absence of adult supervision and poverty, these orphans grow up to be criminals and drug addicts. Gog’ uFlo decides to open up her home to these young kids so that they can have a sense of belonging and adult supervision so that they don’t feel obligated to turn to crime and drugs for survival. Gogo gets funding from the local municipality to help feed these orphans, she’s a social innovator. Sis’ Thembi, the commercial innovator would have failed at solving this problem because she would have simply seen a market where she could make a profit and expected the orphans to pay rent. Both these women were innovative because they came up with solutions to a problem, the difference is that one is profit driven and the other is impact driven…

For the strength of our community, ACTIVATE! Brings South Africa the Social Innovations Summit!

Activator Sindisa Qeqe building Sisterhood Heroines in De Aar.

Wherever she is present, 2018 Activator Sindisa Qeqe is not only heard but felt. With a survival story that she uses to empower other women. On the 4th of August, she hosted an info expo for local learners and had fellow 2018 Activator, Neo Mogoje, there to represent the A! network.

Activators Sindisa and Neo handing out A! goodie bags.

“The aim of the event,” Sindisa says, “was to expose matriculants to information. Because while some of them know about different government departments, they don’t have an idea of what the departments produce in terms of educational and career fields.”

Sindisa’s concern is that some school kids are forced to reject their skills if the skills are seen as non-profitable, and that is why, she reckons, organisations like Activate! exist – to provoke a true leader in a person at a very early age.

As a young leader herself, Sindisa is living proof that there is more to a young person than what meets the eye. The challenges she has overcome give her a right to stand in front of other people to motivate them to become the best version of themselves. She says that she sees herself as a great example to talk about the saying that says “You can’t talk of a wheelchair when you were never in one,” because she has the same reality as the young people she seeks to empower.

On being an Activator, she notes that the Journey of being an Activator is inspirational. “We are to led and are made leaders by the leaders that we are taking along with us in this journey,” were her exact words.

It is the small drops in the ocean that create ripples of change!

Singayisusa Nanini Na!

By Kanyisa Kayise Booi

On the 01 August 2018, I was in the front lines of #thetotalshutdown march that sought to bring the country to a standstill, to bring to an end to “the purging of womxn in Southern Africa and to stop Gender Based Violence towards womxn, children and the LGBTQIA community”. The struggle songs sung in 1956 still applied to this generation of the oppressed and shunted, we sang them as though they were a prayer to reach those who had the power to change it.

I caught myself thinking of Section 9 of the Bill of Rights of the South African Constitution and all its assertions and wondered why the South African government was breaking the law. Why was this group of people marching here seemingly unworthy of that which the supreme law of the land provides? Looking around at womxn with placards of statements and experiences with the silent singing of “senzenina?” I realised that it should be about being deserving, it is our right to live lives of dignity.

Thousands of us sang and screamed from different corners of South Africa because we were tired. What was said in 1956 (wath’abafazi wathi’ imbokodo) was no longer true. We are not hard objects to be thrown round. We concede that if you strike us we will bleed – to death. As we bused to Pretoria in the mist of the singing stories were being exchanged. What caught me is a womxn who told hers: “I belong to the Rastafarian religion. You know how everything is about peace? There was no peace in my home. I was beaten almost every day. My family said kuyanyamezelwa (you must endure) and my friends and sisters said I must leave. I never expected that leaving would bring the worst amount of abuse and torture. He beat me to near death because leaving him was embarrassing to his social standing; ndimjongise ngabantu. He raped and mutilated me so that I couldn’t even think of enye indoda (another man) ever again. Nothing prepares you for leaving, you imagine that thought things may be tough because you are starting over but you never think a person will come after you with such great violence…evil even.”  We can take this story apart and be shocked but this is a story of a woman who left and still violence followed her and the law did not protect her. This man has remarried and is living his best life.

We marched because we live and walk in prisons while violators roam free, ready to do more harm. We demanded that President Cyril Ramaphosa receive our memorandum of demand because he is the one who is ultimately responsible for this country. We cannot continue to be the raped, abused and murdered; at this point we are ready to advance.  One of the activists in the march said to President Ramaphosa – “You will make us violent womxn, in the end we will kill these men. We need the world to know that in the words of Winfred Madikizela-Mandela, “…singayisusa nanini” because the worst thing that could be happening to us is death and that is already happening.


A! Flag Flown High

By Action Sekata


The Activators who  represented ACTIVATE! at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam done so brilliantly. The influence of the network was felt and inspiring  stories were shared with the world. Gratitude to these Activators who represented the network wonderfully.

Activators gave their all in making their presence known and recognised by the 18 000 delegates of the 22nd international AIDS Conference. The ACTIVATE! delegates had various responsibilities, others were deployed as volunteers at the conference to assist with day to day operations, others were part of Global Youth Village, which is a space where young people all over the world gather and share their youthful projects.

As the beast in Youth activism and change driving, ACTIVATE! was invited to be among the panelist on the topic of  Global youth activism. The network voice was the articulate and well spoken Yolokazi Mfutho, 2016 activator from the historic province which gave democratic South Africa two Presidents, the Eastern Cape. ACTIVATE! was chosen among hundreds represented organisations at the headquarters of Youth Against AIDS. Wowing to debates was how Yolokazi shared the constructive character of her fellow Activators. “ACTIVATE! is a network where young people are not only anti-government but they work together with government and those in power to provide solutions rather than simply complaining.”

EL J Sebeo and Kholofelo  Baloyi were the ACTIVATE! face in the Global village connecting and making networks with the  youth global constituency. It was in this space were one can comfortably conclude that the future is promisingly bright. All the dreams of the desired future were perfectly practiced in this space, the energy and youthful innovations were shared here. Tolerance, equal and unjudging atmosphere was the livelihood of the area. Elias Sebeo had this to say, “The Global Village provided an opportunity to learn more about the challenges faced by young people in different countries and regions of the world. It challenged one’s ability and own beliefs to accepting that we now have a global character and identity to embrace. This is a space where everyone was free to be themselves without fear of being judged. Activator Kholofelo Baloyi, a calm thinker and an active activist in the African continent adds  profound remarks from Sebeo’s observation. “Global Village was insightful in many ways. It was a space where youth all over the world united over same challenges with bright ideas and sounds thoughts. It was an area where one felt really presented. A space for young people by young people who understand the world they live in and provide direction on how to deal relevantly with those problems.

Matlhogonolo Tlhomelang  was the ACTIVATE! agent at the Namibian  first lady conversation with young people. The first lady shared, in detail, the need of parents to come to the level of understanding languages and methodologies of youth, adamant that failure to do so may lead to youth not understanding the message, no matter how valuable it is. ” The first lady shared realistic approach in communicating with youth, if message are miles apart from young people way of doing things then we won’t get anywhere”

Nozipho Zungu was a permanent feature and ambassador at youth Against AIDS  headquarters. At all times this intellectual whom we pride ourselves with, wore her pan-Africanist lenses and provided protective membrane to African continent and blackness. Justice will be to quote her in communication with executives of UNAIDS. “UNAIDS and allies must stop giving HIV/AIDS a black face. When you read and view all mediums of communications, the face behind HIV/AIDS is black. This is not an innocent action but a propaganda to instill the idea that HIV/AIDS is blackish. If we continue this way, our objectives of finding cure won’t be realised because we distorted and operate on hidden agenda.

All the Activators present at this conference were overwhelmed and could not stop thanking ACTIVATE! Change Drivers for investing in them and dedicating resources to assist them in making the Amsterdam conference a problem-free experience.


Madiba stall becomes the action zone in the Netherlands

Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi presided over official opening of the South African Exhibition Stall at the International AIDS Conference in Netherlands, Amsterdam held under the theme “Breaking Barriers Building Bridges”. South Africa is represented by a strong delegation of more than 500 Aids activists, researchers, and scientists, government officials, Students, HIV/Aids ambassadors as well as Premiers, Deputy Ministers and MECs.

The Exhibition Stall, fondly called Vilakazi Street, is a South African corner and home and it shares South Africa’s stories, challenges and achievements on the fight against HIV. The stall didn’t miss an opportunity to join the centenary celebration mood of Albertina Sisulu and Nelson Mandela. This rainbow nation corner shares some of the most profound quotes made by Dr Nelson Mandela on HIV/AIDS. This is also a corner where HIV activists such as Prudence Mabele who is counted among the first black women to publicly declare their own status and known for her resilience and the fortitude to fight the stigma when it was not fashionable to do so. Tseko Simon Nkoli who was involved in the struggles against apartheid within the ranks of UDF and was detained in the Delmas trial as one of the Vaal 22 who was one of the first publicly HIV-positive African gay men is also celebrated through the stall.

Unlike all the stalls in the exhibitions, the South African stalls was a promising zone of actions and commitments on how to deal with challenges presented, the government responded immediately to requests from civil society which did not mince its words in reminding government of its promises.

The chairperson of deputy chairperson of  SANAC Steve Letsele, whose contributions to this conference has always emphasized actions than meaningless rhetoric took it to the podium and appreciated the history shared as well as government commitment to help eliminating HIV-AIDS.

” The global statistics says transgender gender population are 49 time higher of contracting the HIV than any other population and we need to be concerned “

“I’m happy about the presence of Ministers, Deputy Ministers and MECs who are present here. Umfundisi reminded us of ‘adopt a sector’, meaning that 18 sectors we work with, adopt a sector, work with them to deliver so we can create change.” On the spot the Deputy Minister  Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu adopted the men’s sector, Deputy Minister of Police Bongani Mkongi adopted sex workers and committed to speak with police to shift focus on prohibiting them to operate but declared to protect them against harm and abuse. Health minister Aaron Motsoaledi adopted people living with HIV and requested all MECs to adopt a sector in their respective provinces.

The Deputy Minister Hendrietta Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu instantly convened the men’s sector to draft a programmatic plan of action where men will respond to HIV/AIDS debacle. The ministry committed resources to assist men programmes, in this meeting the ACTIVATE! Network was represented by Kgotso Sothoane who was positive that ACTIVATE! will assist in mobilisation of adolescent boys and young men throughout the country .“ Through partnership with various stakeholders including A! Men, we will assist in mobilizing young men in the network to participate in dialogues, men parliaments and other activities to be hosted across the country. We are confident that we are equal to the task as one of those organisation with documented evidence of coordinating successful men-focused engagements across the country including the Intergenerational Men’s Summit hosted in March 2018 in Gauteng.  We have no doubt that we can replicate this success anywhere because we have armed ready activists who are thirsty for such developments.”

Education is the mother of leadership

Name: Nolwazi Ntshingila

Province: KwaZulu Natal

Facebook: Nolwazi Renee Ntshingila

Twitter handle: @sisanda1710

Instagram: N/A

Write a short blurb (summary) about yourself. In no more than three sentences.

A confident, highly driven and humble young woman with over 8 years’ administration experience in the motor industry. A previous MISA (Motor Industry Staff Association) Woman of the Year and recently elected MISA Young Workers Forum National Vice Chairperson.

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

Malusi Mazibuko saw potential in me. He gave me all the relevant information to go through to see if I’d be keen. What I read fascinated me and I decided to give it a try, not realising my life would be transformed.

What did you enjoy the most about training?

Meeting new people, not just new- people but young people that shared the same passion and with the same vision as me. I have made many networks and a whole lot of new friends in the last 5 years through ACTIVATE! Change Drivers.

How has training helped you or changed your perspective?

Training has allowed me to be more innovative when addressing issues of development, which allows for more effective and practical solutions. It also made me realise what we can do as a collective instead of being in your own little corner doing your own thing.

Have you been inspired and been the inspiration in your community and those you interact with?

A lot of Activators inspire me in their different spaces, that’s why I always collaborate with Activators in most of the work that I do. I do believe I am an inspiration both in my community and work space, and nothing makes me happy than realising I had made an impact on someone without even realising it.

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

Youth are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but also the partners of today. The qualities of tomorrow’s leaders lie in the characters of today’s followers.Youth are a crucial segment of a nation’s development and that is why their contribution is highly needed.

What is your field of interest?

Education is the mother of leadership, and that is my first love. My other passions are youth and women empowerment.

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

Through my organisation, I host a Loxion High Tea for women and young girls in my community as a platform for them to network and share ideas with other women.  I’ve also recently started a reading club for little children as my contribution in decreasing the alarming literacy statistics in our country.

In July 2018, I hosted the 1st Annual Youth Leadership Talk in Durban in collaboration with other Activators. The one-day DYLT event is a replication of the Tshwane Youth Leadership Talk (TYLT), an existing, tried and tested model by Agape Youth Movement (led by Activator Thabang Ramoroka) that has been successfully executed over the past three years This dialogue focuses on discussing socio-economic challenges in South Africa. Topics for the dialogue will involve education, entrepreneurship, youth development and others.

I am also the MISA (Motor Industry Staff Association) Young Workers Forum KZN Principal and our aim is to support the involvement of young people in their workplace and community, thus helping to empower them by reaching out, responding to their expectations and ideas while fostering useful and long lasting skills by way of education and training. We believe that education is the first most important step to success in setting the basis of an individual’s future.  MISA firmly believes that the power of young workers are in their ability and willingness to learn.

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

I’ve been an Activator since 2013 and collaborating with other Activators has been doing wonders for me.

What are your plans for this year?

Get the reading club off the ground and finishing my studies.

Is social media an effective way by which you can receive communication from us?

I prefer emails, but social media is also good.

Additional information you would like us to know?


A Fearless Change Driver

Name: Queen Nomonde Velapi

Facebook: Nomonde Queen Velapi

Twitter handle: @queen_velapi


Write a short blurb (summary) about yourself. In no more than three sentences.

I am a young woman who is driven by change, growth, empowerment and knowledge. The day I discovered myself is the day I became alive.

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

I decided to be part of ACTIVATE! because I needed the right direction and information towards my growth and impact in my community.

What did you enjoy the most about training?

Each and every lesson gave me a push and guidance as to how to do things and being with young people who have the same drive and purpose.

How has training helped you or changed your perspective?

Now I know what I didn’t know before, as I also said to the facilitators I went to the training empty even if I knew some of the things, but I didn’t know well so I had to empty myself and be ready to be filled up with information that will have solid grounds and motives.  Now I am more aware of what truly is than what was.

Have you been inspired and been the inspiration in your community and those you interact with?

Yes I have been inspired by many people around me and that has changed so much in me because in everything I do it’s all because of all the people that inspired me I am one of the people who inspire and help young people in my community as I lead a group of young ladies.

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

Change our ways of thinking and doing things and start getting information and knowledge, because that’s where we get it all wrong. With proper education and information, united we are the key to this country.

 What is your field of interest?

Women empowerment and Art

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

Having women empowerment sessions, mentoring sessions, photoshoots themed with African Queens.

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

I still have to attend Module 2

In each and every direction the network leads me I will gladly follow and lead from wherever. And I will use all the tools the network gave me to make my community a better place for all the young people.

 What are your plans for this year?

Host an event where young women will introduce themselves to the nation and also themselves.  I’ve already changed my work environment because the network helped me discover some things about myself and now there’s no turning back its all or nothing!

 Is social media an effective way by which you can receive communication from us?

Yes it is. Because that where the target is and that’s where all the people we are trying to change live and find comfort.

Additional information you would like us to know?

After my 1st Module, I had to change my direction and focus, ACTIVATE! reintroduced me to the person I was meant to be and I’ve been avoiding people I thought I needed to be in some placed, because of how our minds are programmed.  Now everything makes perfect sense and I fear nothing but not growing because what’s not growing is dead so I can’t afford to be dead with all the information I gained from my 1st Module.  All that I am now is all I have and need to improve by also changing other young people that I mentor and inspire.

Every time I look at these ladies I inspired, I know there’s more to come and that needs to be done.

I am an Activator and a fearless change driver!





ACTIVATE! partnership event with Cape Town Museum

We are working on a partnership with the Cape Town Museum and Western Cape Provincial Government on a social inclusion dialogue as one of the ongoing activities planned under Cape Town museum.

Cape Town Museum: a new Western Cape provincial museum. Though the museum’s programmatic focus is still being developed, it is envisaged that the museum will explore and reflect on Cape Town as a dynamic network of people, processes and natural and man-made features that extend beyond the official geographical boundaries of the City. The mission for the Museum include:

  • Being a public space that plays an important role in the development of social inclusion and cohesion, building a culture of active citizenship, reflecting on collective identities and fosters respect for human rights and gender equality, and
  • Being an inclusive public place that provides a platform to address social, economic and environmental concerns.

The museum does not have a building yet, the museum is active using its website as a virtual museum space and creating a physical presence through its network of partners and stakeholders. Our first engagements on Social Inclusion on 27 July 2018 is one of these projects undertaken in partnership with ACTIVATE! and Africa Unite. With this project, we would like to obtain a better understanding of the existence of networks in Cape Town and what divides us. Furthermore, we would like to explore how the Cape Town Museum can contribute to bridging gaps within communities and provide a public space for social inclusion initiatives.

We invite you to become part of this network and the Cape Town Museum space.

Date:     27 July 2018

Time:     9:00 – 14:30

Venue: Guga, S’thebe, Langa.

Click here to view >> Engagements on Social Inclusion provisional programme

Activators’ Strength Felt Globally

By Action Setaka

Youth Against Aids launched its AIDS Conference at its headquarters Saturday, 21 July 2018 where it officially welcomed over 200 young leaders from all over the world to its AIDS Conference operational centre. ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is one of the organisations invited under the Youth Against AIDS wing to be part of this international conference.  The ACTIVATE! Change Drivers delegation is led by Health Sector Project Coordinator, Rammolotsi Kgotso Sothoane, and it is comprised of Activators whose projects were chosen by Youth Against AIDS as innovative and deserving of a scholarship to attend the 8th International AIDS conference. These Activators include among others; Nozipho Zungu (Gauteng), El J Sebeo (Free State), Matlhogonolo Tlhomelang, Queen  Velaphi and Kholofelo Baloyi.


ACTIVATE!  is represented by the largest number of African delegation from a single organisation, this shows the respect ACTIVATE! enjoys globally for innovative thinking and their impactful projects. The day started with workshops on issues such as social media activism and different regional perspectives on issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. Typical of Activators, they engaged energetically and fully participated in these workshops. “The workshops gave us an opportunity to learn and connect with other like-minded young people, as well as forge possible partnerships on projects and help us to scale our projects on global space. I’m happy and confident that we will come out of this conference as people who are ready to face challenges with more confidence and strength,” says Matlhogonolo Tlhomelang.

This official launch was graced by the presence of Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé. In his speech, the Executive Director did not mince his word in saying the cure of AIDS will come from young people. “When I decided to launch this idea of ending AIDS, it was just a dream to many people. But I’m convinced that with YOU we will end this epidemic” said Mr Sidibé who says he bases his reasoning on the energy and creativity which he sees daily in young people. He advised young activists to never settle on thinking that they are leaders of tomorrow but must start acting and claiming space to lead

Michel Sidibé further urged young people to use this energy and creativity on social media. He said that young people are advantageous in knowing how to relate and take message to their peers appropriately. “Fight injustices, stop violence against adolescent girls, and early marriage. Write about these injustices and use social media to break these barriers,” added Sidibé.

The day ended with a movie on LBGTIA+ and mental health problems associated with coming out of the closet. Activator Nozipho Zungu was among the panellists and shared stage with respected Netherlands and Germany influencers who are experts on issues of LBGTIA+. Nozipho Zungu believes that the first steps to accepting LBGTIA+ is educating parents and that they should be the. “We must focus on changing mindsets of parents.  It is them that need the understanding of sexuality because their support means so much when you are battling with coming out. Therefore, more projects should target parents,” suggested Nozipho who works with young women in Johannesburg assisting them to be independent by building their character and sex education.

On the 22nd of July, all delegates were taken for a sightseeing tour. The opening ceremony of international AIDS conference will be on Monday, 23rd July 2018.


Mandela Day reignites Dj Schoolbag’s Pride Factor

By: Dj Schoolbag

On Mandela Day, ACTIVATE! was invited to accompany Pride Factor and the Abcon Group Foundation to Hawk Academy combined school in the Primrose, Ekurhuleni, where I come from. And I had the honour of accompanying Kay-Dee to the event.

Hawk Academy was founded in 2016 by husband and wife Directors Sipho Mkhonto and Agnes Mkhonto after they saw a need in the community where they have a church, named ‘Door of Hope Family Church’.  “Most of the learners come from the surrounding informal settlements. We aim to give them the best education and hope to get results this year,” Ms Anges said. To date, the school has about 950 learners between Grade R and Grade 9.

Head Mistress, Anges Mkhonto

Throughout the Hawk Academy journey, they have partnered with various companies such as Abland, among others. Within Abland, there is a non-profit organization called Abcon Group Foundation – who were the main hosts of the Mandela Day event in partnership with Pride Factor. 

Dene Botha (Pride Factor) and Kay-Dee Mashile (ACTIVATE!)

Pride Factor SA is a life skills academy dedicated to improving the quality of young people’s lives by inspiring, guiding and mentoring them to challenge their assumptions, broaden their aspirations and develop entrepreneurial thinking. The Academy consists of many inspirational young people, one of which is  Pride Factor ambassador Emily Mabasa, who formed part of the pool of speakers.

Emily Mabasa sharing her story

Emily’s story inspired me a lot, what I took away were the words, “Believe in your dreams and don’t give up because those kids need you more than you know”. To be really honest I was at a stage where I almost gave up on the Donate a Schoolbag Campaign, but after the visit, I saw that a lot of learners still need our assistance. Seeing the faces of the learners as they received everything, from food to the library that Abcon donated, reminded me of the many things that we take for granted every day while other people long for these things. 

Abcon Donated Library


After the event, I decided to relaunch the campaign to start by helping Hawk Academy in Primrose, Ekurhuleni to raise schoolbags, sanitary towels, roll on, stationary for the learners. I have been reminded that the simple content of “Donate a School Bag” has the power to transform a child’s life – the very school bag you donate could help to create future Doctors, Politicians, Humanitarian, Chartered Accountant and more.

A few examples of the content of our school bag:

  • Calculator and a notepad
  • Pens and Pencils, colored pencils, crayons and markers
  • School Shoes
  • Small Gifts (Sweets, toys etc.)
  • School Uniform and Shoes
  • Sanitary Pads
  • Old and New Clothes

To be part of the Donate A Schoolbag Drive contact Dj Schoolbag at 0613770745, on Facebook or via email at ndasbcampaign@gmail.com.

Nelson Mandela: a figure of literary inspiration

By Ace Moloi

Not only has President Mandela lived a life of political interest, but of literary inspiration too, writes Ace Moloi.

The launching pad of writing careers
President Nelson Mandela has been a subject of literary interest throughout his life and beyond his lifetime. His life and career launched many writers politically and creatively, who have produced text in academic discourse, the film industry, narrative non-fiction and other creative works. It takes no effort to locate a book written in his honour in any bookshop, or to find writings on him digitally, and this alone speaks of his great influence on the literary community.

Conversations with himself
President Mandela himself appreciated writing as a tool for self-contemplation, honest evaluation and emotional health. Having spent 27 years of his active life in prison, which sometimes meant solitary confinement, President Mandela resorted to writing his thoughts, his feelings and his fears down.

In his self-reflections, published in Conversations with Myself, President Mandela makes public his innermost thoughts, pulled from his personal archive. The book classically demonstrates the relationship he developed with the pen. It teaches us – the young change agents – the importance of personal journalism, events write-ups, observations and every detail that the fast-paced society of today generally overlooks.

It is imperative that we take time to ourselves, in quietness, so as to be attuned to ourselves. In President Mandela young writers learn the value of facing themselves, and writing critically about themselves.

Love letters to Nomzamo
President Mandela and his then wife Nomzamo Madikizea-Mandela (hereafter properly referred to as “Mama”) kept the fire of their love burning through the writing of letters. Though censored and some parts torn out of meaning, it is these letters that whispered sweet little nothings of hope, companionship and assurance to Mandela the prisoner. In times of darkness and solitude, reading Mama’s words quelled the spirit of despair that
threatened to engulf him, whilst giving an account of his household happenings.

Through these letters, it was as if the two lovebirds were teaching us, young people of instant messaging, that the profoundest act of romance is a thoroughly considered, detailed love letter to objects of our love. It is as though they were beckoning us to revisit the might of the pen, the beauty of literature, and narrate our own stories of Romeo and Juliet, Rolihlahla and Nomzamo.

A man of files
Not only has President Mandela taken a long walk to freedom, he wrote about it too, so that none of us would have to travel kilometres of route to learn about our past, but just visit our nearest library to read about it in Long Walk to Freedom, a riveting memoirs that tells the story of humble beginnings, difficult moments, victory and more hills to climb. In it we find a familiarity of circumstance, which reminds us that our dreams are valid. Furthermore, we derive for ourselves lessons from President Mandela’s generation’s errors, refine their tactics and buoy up brevity as we write ourselves into existence.

But personally, a lesson I take from this book is more about the behind-thescenes of it than the actuality of its publication. In 1974 when President Mandela started secretly writing his manuscript, each page of it was reviewed by his friends and epistemic peers, Ahmed Kathrada and Walter Sissulu. This indicates – at least basically – the importance of peer-review in the writing community, correctly to say that quality assurance in literature is of paramount importance.

Moreover, the effort it took President Mandela to complete the original manuscript (500 pages) reveals just how much he valued literature and its role in human affairs. Though it was a punishable offence to write politically on Robben Island, and despite the daily back-breaking toils, he persisted in writing his story, I would imagine motivated by the proverbial expression: until the lion learns literacy, every hunting story will be to the glory of the literate hunter.

We have none of the prison hardships President Mandela was sentenced to. Instead, we have access to literature. There are more publishing options for different financial brackets. We have social media for expanded reach and networking with experienced wordsmiths. Really, what could possibly be our excuse?

Rewriting Mandela: a challenge for young writers
Much has been said about the legacy of President Mandela. He has immensely and selflessly contributed to the making of a new South Africa, and went on to become the nation’s moral compass post-presidentially. He left us not only with his politics, but his literature too. A man boasting a wealth of archives, it is up to us to go deeper: to ask the right questions, to think of him anew, to rewrite his flaws, yet simultaneously honour his rich impact on humanity.
It is through reading and writing that President Mandela became an agent of change. Therefore, we should run forward with pens as spears, and books as shields.

Ace Moloi is a Bloemfontein-based author of three books: Holding My Breath, In Her Fall Rose a Nation and Tholwana Tsa Tokoloho. His work has been featured by every media institution that takes itself seriously. For more information on his work, follow him on Facebook and Twitter

We all have the seeds of the Madiba Magic

By Zazi Sintu kaWeyi

This day is one of the most recognised day in the calendar of our country. This is the day we honour the late former President Nelson Mandela and the legacy of his work through lending a hand to those who need it most and just immersing yourself and time to a good cause. Practicing active citizenry.

On the eve of this momentous day, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and its partners host annual lectures in remembrance of this icon. Yesterday was no different as Mama Graca Machel “gently ordered” US former president and the first African American president, Barack Obama, to give this lecture.

Previously, I wondered how (and even why) some of the “lecturers” were selected to conduct this mammoth task of speaking about the wonder that Mandela was. For me, it was so fitting that Obama spoke this year. Just the similarities in their candidacy eased my mind that the lecture was in good hands. Both Mandela and Obama were the first black presidents in their countries and the charisma of the two is something one can aspire to have.

Before handing the microphone to Obama, Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel, President Cyril Ramaphosa, Patrice Motsepe and Professor Ndebele shared their fondest memories of the Old Boy. His humility, forgiving nature and living up to his middle name, Rholihlahla (a naughty boy).

Obama on a high note, kicking straight to deciphering what active citizenry is and drawing parallels between the public and private sector as well as their social responsibilities. A point previously raised by Motsepe in his own speech. Motsepe made a deep statement that said, “The future of the rich, educated and young is not bright if the future of the marginalised is disregarded.” He spoke passionately about inclusivity and how it begets unity. He also noted the general folly of assuming that corruption is an inbred disposition of the private sector but also urged us to speak of the infest that lives within the private sector.

It was as though Motsepe and Obama’s speeches went through the same scrutiny as they were heavily themed with the message of inclusivity and active citizenry. Obama even went as far as naming the systematic injustices that were causes of humans to be on different ends of unity. He spoke about the elephant in the room of racial salaries, where white males were still at the top of the salary pool while doing the same work as their female counterparts. “We’re gonna have to fight harder to reduce inequality among all people. The struggle for social justice is never finished. We have to actively resist the notion that basic human rights don’t involve us.”

“We might even have to look deeper into an inclusive capitalism.” He said this after explaining how the majority of the world’s wealth was controlled by a handful. How this handful could afford to “give a little more.” He insisted that we focus on economics to make this here democracy work.

As activists in our communities, Activators know of the hurdles, red tapes and hoops one needs to fly through in order to achieve just one of the many goals that look us in the face. Obama addressed us too, he and many like him keep re-fuelling our light that often suffer life’s beatings and sometimes dim. If there’s anything you need to take away from his entire speech, young change driver, it’s these words:

  • It is not enough to protest, we also need to build,
  • If you know what’s in your heart and willing to sacrifice for it, ultimately, right makes might
  • Keep believing

Ahead of our 2019 elections, there’s a lot being said and done that will guide us into voting for whom we want to vote for. Let us use this time to come together, reflect and plan all the change we’d like to see in our communities. And as the worldly Thandiswa Mazwai says, “freedom is a restless place.”

Lastly, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done, our standard stance should that be of rolled sleeves.

Nelson Mandela, Albertina Sisulu, and Today’s Youth: Activism and Heroism

By Lindokuhle Ntuli

I often wonder, as a young leader and activist, what fuelled the spirit of activism and active citizenry in the generation of heroes like Mama Albertina Sisulu and Nelson Mandela. What factors and influences make up the calibres of such fearless and selfless leaders? What is it about Mama Sisulu’s upbringing, exposure to society and career as a nurse that made her take a stand and play an active part in the liberation struggle? What is it about the young lawyer in Madiba that brought him to believe in the ideals of a democratic and non-racial society and fight to see these ideals come true?

It is a truism that prior to 1994, the levers of power for the state were exclusively and firmly in the hands of whites. The leadership of all constituent state structures, including the executive, legislature and the judiciary, was all white. The arrival of the Dutch Indian Company in 1652, to find a resting station at the Cape under Jan van Riebeeck, marked the beginning of the process of land dispossession and segregation by white colonialists in South Africa. During both the 18th and 19th centuries, the operation of removing and relocating black people from their land became the order of the day with far-reaching consequences. By the late 19th century, the white settlers had occupied and controlled most of what is today the Republic of South Africa. Of course, the net effect of all this is that the whites had projected themselves as the sole gatekeepers of the Republic and all its resources and wealth. They determined the living spaces, academic standards, and employment levels for black people in the country. Regrettably, this segregation and exclusion resulted in South Africa, a home of birth and heritage for most black people, becoming a ‘white enclave – a preserve for the whites’.

The legacy of colonialism and apartheid left South Africa a society divided by class and race. The generation of Mama Sisulu and Madiba could not leave this harsh and violent reality unchallenged. Like millions of other South Africans, they too were born in an unequal society with unequal opportunities. Rejecting the status quo became a means to echo the voices of the voiceless and marginalised black majority. Thus, Madiba’s activism and Mama Sisulu’s resistance strongly featured as a reaction to the oppression, discrimination and deprivation wreaked by the apartheid government on black people. The legacies of Mandela and Sisulu were born out of the pain, suffering and marginalisation endured by black people. They assumed vanguard positions in the opposition politics, when it was unfavourable to do so, to fight for the rights of black people and the ideals of a free society.

The question today is whether our political emancipation since 1994 has brought about positive and real change in a society divided by class and race? It would be profoundly dishonest to discount the gains made since the advent of our democracy. From a political and governance standpoint, the evidence of transformation cannot be disputed. The generation of Madiba achieved one of its core missions, which is vesting the power to decide the government of the day to the citizens; expanding the right to vote to all. Thus, 1994 gave South Africa its first black President elected in terms of a new order and interim Constitution. In many ways than one, this was a new era filled with new promises and vision for an egalitarian society; a society based on dignity, equality, freedom and economic justice.

The painful truth, nonetheless, is that South Africa remains the most unequal society in the world according to a recent report by the World Bank. These are indicators that the economic programmes and structural constructs of the apartheid regime have its long-lasting legacy despite the 1994 regime change. Hlumelo Biko conscientiously describes South Africa as a society of two different and unequal communities; the white community which is made up of the few who benefited from the apartheid regime and the black community which consists of the poor majority who are still severely wounded by the injustices of our past. Perhaps this reality exposes the raw deal of our negotiated democracy. It was a compromised settlement, a grand illusion of freedom.

However, not all is doomed and gloomed. Each generation must find its purpose, fulfil it or betray it. The youth of today must take up the cudgels to fight these fierce battles for a more just and equal society. The Madiba and Sisulu generation played their role in the context of their struggle, irrespective whether we believe more could have been done. What happens between now and the next coming 20 years is dependent on you and me, the current youth of leaders. Incidentally, since the advent of our democracy, we have embarked, as a country, on a journey to remodel our society from an ugly violent society to a new and egalitarian society. Each of us has an important role to play in shaping this new South Africa.

What will your role be?