Tea with a Thought Leader

Superpowers: iLoveback, the Land and your Data.

By Fumbatha May

Welcome to the second edition of Tea With A Thought Leader. The aim of this campaign is to connect Activators with thought leaders and their opinions through rounding up the global highlights of each month.

Fumbatha May is a data scientist and writer. He is a fellow of the (unofficial) Extended Youth Programme for Over 35s.

Gather around everyone, we have much to discuss and very little time to do it. First up is of course the land issue. If you haven’t heard already, we are now in the middle of a process towards finalising expropriation of land without compensation. The process kicked off on March 3 with the overzealous wooing of the ANC, desperate for iloveback from the EFF, supporting the EFF’s parliamentary motion to establish a constitutional review committee to investigate implementing Section 25 of the Constitution of South Africa (please read up on it for yourself, it’s available online).

“I’m leaving Mary – I’m going to Australia… they’re gonna eat us Mary!” has been the typical refrain from those with the land, as noted by Trevor Noah in a stand-up routine from 10 years go. So let’s dispel the misinformation. First of all, no one’s gonna eat you Mary. VAT may be going up and incomes might be depressed but nobody is outchea tryna eat you Mary, calm down.

Expropriation of land without compensation has always been part of our post-apartheid Constitution – that’s exactly what Section 25 is about. It’s just that the government, attempting not to scare Mary and her friends off to Australia, didn’t really have a clear plan of when and how to invoke it. The March 3 parliamentary motion set the ball rolling for government to come back to us – the citizens of this country, of every race – to ask for suggestions on how best to apply Section 25. It’s an opportunity for us to take all those suggestions we’ve been making to each other in our social circles, churches, schools, shebeens, on social media; and make them part of government policy. As citizens, one of our rights and responsibilities is to make submissions on important matters to give the government an idea of what we want. Calls for submissions are data collection exercises that aid decision-making. So I implore you all to keep an eye on your local press for announcements of dates for hearings in your area which will begin on May 8, 2018 in Limpopo and will travel throughout the country until the final one on June 22, 2018.

Another story dominating the news at the moment is the scandal involving Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and Trump. Quick recap: a former Cambridge Analytica employee sent shockwaves throughout the world when he blew the whistle on how data from 50 million Facebook users was used to target people with pro-Trump messaging in the run up to the American presidential election which Trump won (on a technicality).

This story is important in for two reasons: 1) we don’t really understand how social media works; and 2) we need to take more responsibility for what we consume online.

Data mining isn’t inherently wrong. It’s a bit like having superpowers which can be used for good or evil. For instance, mining social media for personal health info could provide much-needed data to medical researchers to illuminate rare/misunderstood conditions or co-morbidities (illnesses that arise as in relation to others, like diabetes and heart disease). In the Cambridge Analytica case, these powers were used for evil, breaking the cardinal rule of having superpowers.

How do we protect ourselves from this evil? One way is by verifying the news we consume online. By now those of us who have been closely following the Trump-Breitbart-Cambridge Analytica saga know that fake news has been an indispensable weapon in Trump’s election campaign. For fake news to be effective, its intended audience must either be wilfully ignorant or just lazy to verify the source and content of the news they consume. The idea that the data of 50 million users could have shown a high probability for this campaign tactic to be effective is alarming. We need to be vigilant and stay woke to the BS always. Google is free and for now still the best tool we have to fight back against being lied to.

So the next time you read something that makes you sit up and pay attention enough to want to share it with your friends, STOP and GOOGLE first. Check if you can find the story or information on another credible site. Check what other info/stories you can find from the original source. If something in you makes you doubt the truth of what you are reading, it’s better to err on the side of caution and not share it. You will not get a prize for being the first in your crew to share info. You will earn more credibility if you choose to wait and share only those things you are absolutely sure about. Knowledge is hard work but the wisdom you gain in return is worth it, almost like a superpower.

Gender Based Violence and Human Rights Imbizo

On 21 March 2018, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation and Africa Unite commemorated Human Rights Day by hosting a Gender Based Violence and Human Rights Imbizo at Phillipi Village in Phillipi, Cape Town. The Imbizo sought to create an enabling platform for a broad spectrum of thought-leaders, activists and other key decision-makers to critically engage the pressing question of gender based violence from a human rights perspective.

In her opening remarks, Lezerine Mashaba, moderator of the Imbizo highlighted the historical link between Human Rights Day in South Africa and the events of 21 March 1960. On that momentous day 69 people died and 180 were wounded in Sharpeville and Langa respectively when apartheid police fired on a peaceful crowd that had gathered in protest against the pass laws. “It is important for us to reflect on the lessons of the Sharpeville Massarce in our quest to address modern day human rights challenges. On 21 March 1960, ordinary people rose in unison to proclaim their rights”, she said.

Miss Mashaba added that “21 March has become an iconic date in our country’s history that we commemorate as Human Rights Day as a reminder of our rights and the cost paid for our treasured human rights.

Delegates representing various organisations including the Department of Health, the International Peace Youth Group, SWEAT, Overberg Development, Khayelitsha Peace Building Team, JUST Choice and the Phillipi Brotherhood Project participated in an array of activities and discussions aimed at deepening their understanding of gender-based violence as it relates to human rights.

As part of the proceedings, participants were challenged to explore the root causes of gender-based violence, unpack the effects of gender-based violence on society and reflect on the changes necessary for the creation of more gender just communities.

Facilitators Lezerine Mashaba and Eleanor du Plooy creatively employed a tree analogy to create an interactive and engaging environment for critical discussions.  Drawing from the tree analogy, participants identified roots of gender-based violence as unequal power relations between men and women, patriarchy, culture and religion among other things. Furthermore, participants maintained that these identified roots naturally lead to gender injustice, inequality and ultimately gender-based violence.

Though gender and women’s empowerment issues are gaining currency within the South African development context, gender, sexual and reproductive rights are still regarded as taboo, too sensitive and emotive to warrant attention by the broader society. It is within the above-noted context that organisers of the Imbizo sought to stimulate dialogue on Gender Based Violence and Human Rights, with a particular focus on the rights of the most vulnerable in society including women, children and the LGBTIQA+ community.

Representatives of SWEAT, an organisation at the coalface of sex worker advocacy, human rights and mobilisation in Africa, shared with the plenary their experiences as human rights activists and lamented the criminalisation of sex work in South Africa.  “Criminalisation of sex work infringes upon a sex worker’s rights to equality, privacy, human dignity and bodily integrity as enshrined in the Bill of Rights.” argued Pam Ntshakula.

Commenting during a plenary session, activist and writer Zilungile Zimela emphatically stated that “Just as communities worked collaboratively to advance the human rights of the LGBTIQA+ community in post-apartheid South Africa; we have a moral obligation to contribute towards the struggle for the recognition of rights of the most vulnerable in society including sexual and reproductive rights. We must as a matter of principle, learn, unlearn and relearn that which makes us human in order to contribute meaningfully towards the course for the transformation of society for the public good.”

Hasina Subedar from the Department of Health urged delegates to work together to address the challenge of sexual and gender-based violence. She mentioned that the Department of Health is committed to increasing access to health, educational and other services to improve the lives of adolescent girls and young women in South Africa. “Through the She Conquers Campaign, we are partnering with communities to empower girls to take charge of destiny to become the women they want to be”.

The Gender-Based Violence and Human Rights Imbizo concluded with attendees recommitting themselves to working, together with communities, more effectively toward the advancement of a more gender just society and for the rights of the most vulnerable in society.

 

Righting the wrongs

By: Paul Mabote

Writer, Poet, Recording Musician, Community Developer.

This article reflects the views and activities of Activators around Human Rights Month (March) and Human Rights Day (21 March 2018)

March is Human Rights Month in South Africa. A month dedicated to celebrating the rights of all human beings living in the world. I took some time to find out what Activators are up to this Human Rights month, and what they were doing on Human Rights Day (21 March 2018).

You Strike A Woman, You Strike A Rock.

Dikeledi Makau is a 2017 Activator, originally from Mpumalanga and currently residing Alexandra Township. She is an education activist and is very passionate about development in South Africa. She has also been a South African Human Rights ambassador since 2008.

Dikeledi is also part of the Human Rights Commission and has worked with Freedom House, which is described in their website (www.freedomhouse.org) as:

“An independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world. (They) analyse the challenges to freedom, advocate for greater political rights and civil liberties, and support frontline activists to defend human rights and promote democratic change.”

Makau says that she is most passionate about Children’s Rights, as she feels children are the most vulnerable and that they need the most protection. She is also against Xenophobia and she is currently planning an anti-xenophobia talk at Liberty College in Kew, a suburb in East Johannesburg. Talk about a young lady on fire!

Fire On The Mountain.

Constitution Hill, in partnership with the Human Rights and Social Justice Fraternity, hosted the inaugural Human Rights Festival from the 23rd to the 25th of March 2018. The festival commemorates Human Rights Day, paying homage to the victims of the Sharpville Massacre of 21 March 1960, and all the other heroes who lost their lives in the fight for democracy.

Activator Moedi Mokaba from Kagiso, West of Johannesburg, attended the festival and he shared his experience. Moedi says that he got to meet and engage with interesting people who are doing amazing things within the space of Human Rights. He enjoyed the live performances and says that he wishes to be one of the performers at the festival in future.

Bead The Discrimination

Moedi is a poet and also has his own company, BEAD EXTRA, which deals with fashion and beadwork. He is most passionate about the rights of disabled people, as he has a nephew who is living with a disability. He says that people living with disabilities are often marginalized in society, and that it is important that we remember that they are human too, and that they need all the love, care and support that they can possibly get.

It Is Your Right!

It is good that we have Human Rights and that we celebrate Human Rights Day each year. However, the sad truth is that many of these Human Rights continue to be violated every day, in many parts of the world. I urge everyone reading this article, myself included, to educate themselves, their friends, families and colleagues about the different Human Rights that exist; and the importance of exercising them, if we are going to have a world that knows right from wrong. Aluta Continua!

 

Catching up with Ayanda Cokoto

The ACTIVATE! Network has existed for 6 years, we follow-up with Activators from 2012 to find out what progress they’ve made since completing the ACD programme. 

 

The human right of rebuilding a new South Africa

By Dumisa Mbuwa

As we celebrate human rights month, it is important that we take an introspective look at where we stand as a Nation in relation to realising the freedoms promised in 1994. Did we achieve the fundamental tenants espoused in our republic’s Constitution? Is socio-economic freedom finally within reach for all South Africans? Most importantly, did we manage to transcend beyond merely being given suffrage?

The less affluent communities in South Africa post-1994 are decorated with burnt roads (from never-ending protests), non-existant public services, unemployment and crime. The promises of a better tomorrow that came with 1994 were just that, promises. “Tomorrows” are really reserved for whites, the political elite (ANC/EFF), and affluent, educated, Middle Class Blacks (MCB’S) who live in leafy suburbs where neighbours smile more than they greet.

In rural areas, the populace is currently diminishing due to mass migration (especially youth) into cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg. Leaving behind vasts amount of land to be left unused, and uncared for. While the older generation that treasures the agrarian economy is rapidly withering, the post ’94 generation of South Africans are more determined to pursue a life in the city rather than planting cabbages and onions in the fields or owning a farm.

This reality is compounded by a recent study by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), which found that 92% of Black South Africans (who account for 79% of the population) who had received free land as compensation, opted for financial compensation instead.

The study also found that 78.3% of South Africans actually want good, qualitative education (particularly for their children) and jobs over land. While only 2% believe that land will truly alleviate poverty and unemployment in South Africa.

The Land Expropriation without Compensation policy that the ANC and EFF support is clearly based on what South Africans expressly do not need.

Both (ANC/EFF) are determined to emulate Zimbabwe and every single country that has failed (like Venezuela, Greece, Spain, Cuba, and Portugal) due to delusional, short-sighted, socialist policies. Especially for its youth.

Sadly, a majority of South Africans have been academically compromised by the ruling party’s post 94 (government’s) crippling education system that renders more South Africans dead (due to depression, unemployment and suicide) than church cults prevalent in the Eastern Cape save lives.

Over 70% of grade 4 learners cannot read. 10 years from now they will be illiterate, eligible voters.

How can they not when a majority of South Africans not only do not know about State Capture, even though its prime villain was former president Jacob Zuma, who is being charged for a legion of crimes by the National Prosecuting Authority.

This should come as no surprise especially when only 15% of South Africans actively read (a majority of whom being whites, particularly white women), and only 5% read to their children.

This is in addition to over 70% of the country’s children being fatherless and raised by single mothers, aunts, children, grandmothers and neighbours, in overcrowded households where poverty and suffering are common.

Is it any wonder then, that a majority of South Africans still vote for the ruling party, even though all the latter has done was to annex them into more, extreme poverty and suffering?

Anything that resembles hope in South Africa is slowly diminishing by the way South Africans no longer view themselves as a collective and have embraced indivudality, a concept foreign to traditional African values. Especially with president Cyril Ramaphosa pretending to be a genuine social agent, when he is yet another ANC leader that is bent on devaluing whatever is left our country with the same vigour he uses to fake jog.

The pathway to rebuilding a fallen nation like ours begins with a deep need to look into the mirror and ask ourselves: is it not clear that South Africa is in a far more dire position now than it was under racist Apartheid? That realisation is key in mobilising the people to make the Constitution a living document and not an aspiration.

The hour for us to cross the Rubicon and reclaim the South Africa that was promised to us has finally arrived.

 

Let’s talk about Human Rights

By Nomvuyo Sebeko

LET’S TALK ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS

When the church ladies look at me as if I don’t deserve to leave

All because I chose to abort the baby that was inside MY BODY

And was carrying my DNA…..

LET’S TALK ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS

When the community feel like they have every right

To talk about MY SEXUALITY and which gender I fall under

Even when I tell them how I feel inside…

LET’S TALK ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS

When all the men in the taxi rank feel like they have all the rights

To tell me how to dress my OWN body and how a Woman is suppose

To dress so that they can respect her….

LET’S TALK ABOUT HUMAN rights

When the community feel like they have a right to tell me at which age

I AM SUPPOSED TO get married, have kids, house, cars and an excellent

Career as if I share my life with them….

LET’S TALK ABOUT HUMANS RIGHTS

When the society feel like I AM LESS OF A MAN if I chose to

Raise my children while my wife is building her career and ensuring

A bright future for our children…

LET’S TALK ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS

When I feel like I am leaving a life that I have borrowed from someone else

While I feel like my life is nothing but a dark place where everyone have

Al the rights to take decisions except me…then they say

Happy human rights day!!!

Mining the gold we all have in us.

“Everyone has, in themselves, gold that is yet to be mined. And sometimes all it requires is for us to help them see it, in order to mirror it back to them. This is what helped me build my organisation, over the past 15 years, to what it now is.” said Marian Goodman at the youth economic participation programme themed “RMB (Rand Merchant Bank) meets activate”.

The fifteenth of March 2018 will mark a very significant day in the history for ACTIVATE! entrepreneurs. The event held at the “June 16 Memorial Acre” (a venue designed to mark the heart and historical moment of the 1976 student uprising) will go down as the day when a wealth of knowledge, networks and resources was shared with activators by the staff at RMB. Activators received an opportunity to present their ventures to RMB experts who work with some of the largest cooperates like Woolworths. In response, the experts helped refine concepts and shared their networks, knowledge and other resources in order to help the young entrepreneurs.

 

While a lot of Activators summed up their entrepreneurial challenges as financially related, they acknowledged that when you have an opportunity to engage experts in the field of business, you come to a realisation that resourcefulness is the key for running a successful venture. One needs to intensely look into leveraging networks in order to ensure that the lack of finance is evaded successfully. It became imperative that as young entrepreneurs we need to ensure that we are always prepared for opportunities of a lifetime in the lifetime of the opportunities that are presented to us. Activator Phephisile remarked that “Opportunity is seized by the prepared, it is always important to have a clear winning elevator pitch ready so as to maximise the use of time given to speak to potential funders and networks.”

There is a hunger for success amongst activator entrepreneurs. The RMB executives highlighted that they are impressed with the work that is done by activators. What stood out most in the reflective session for them was the fact that most of the entities and ideas for business coming from the change drivers are about impact, change and profit. This shows that there is a strong shift from the traditional business focus that puts profit at the forefront of everything even to the detriment of its own producers. “Activators have a challenge of navigating the business world and this poses a need to ensure that we mobilise business support from those that have walked the terrain” said Daniel one of the experienced asset managers from RMB.

The call by RMB to have its employees involved in community development has come at an opportune time for activators and this will allow collaboration with experts in the business. The possibility of leverage was brought to life in the resolutions that were made by activators and RMB. The most notable resolution was that RMB and Activate should consider collaborating on creating a crowdfunding platform so that where it is not possible for all change drivers to access such opportunities. The second is a need to create a virtual marketplace that will link resources and projects in order to create a stronger impact in the country.

Tshepang Mokgatla

Published Author, Success Coach and entrepreneur

2013 Activator

Activator, dancer, choreographer and theatre practitioner starts a gym in Bloemfontein

By: Zilungile Zimela

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

16 MARCH 2018

Re: Activator, dancer, choreographer and theatre practitioner starts a gym- a safe space for the LGBTIA+ Community.

Bloemfontein born Activator Sifiso Teddy Mhlambi, fondly known as the ‘Pink hustler’ has always aspired for only the best things life has to offer. A little over two years ago he was approached by a newly established gym (SS Health Club) that was at the time in search of trainer who specialised in aerobics or any dance oriented workout, for which he was the perfect fit.

“While the trainer there, I decided to enrich and further my knowledge into a healthier lifestyle as I was in a steady journey to self-reinvention,” added the flamboyant Teddy-B.

From the first day conducting his first training, Teddy-B felt the strong desire to one day open his own establishment also focusing on promoting healthy living- a gym that would have the dual function of firstly being a fitness hub and a safe haven for the members of the LGBTIAQ+ community. He added sternly that, “as a theatre practitioner and member of the LGBTIA+ community I have observed how the same community can neglect to lead a healthy lifestyle thereby contributing to the deterioration of our health.”

Teddy is a classic example of what happens when a young person decides to take action steps and journey towards attaining personal goals, in this case “personal fitness goals”. The gym is currently undergoing massive facelift and will be open for business towards the end of 2018 with a whole list of fun and interactive workouts that will have your body bolting with fresh and new energy.

The high-spirited and ever motivated hustler Teddy maintains that “When in doubt…Be extra!”

Ends

Notes to the Editor:

About ACTIVATE! :

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

For more information:

Facebook: Teddy B Vuitton

On social media:

Twitter: @ActivateZA

Facebook: ACTIVATE! Change Drivers

Catching up with Mokgadi Matlakala

The ACTIVATE! Network has existed for 6 years, we follow-up with Activators from 2012 to find out what progress they’ve made since completing the ACD programme. 

 

What Activators think about land expropriation

By Nomvuyo Sebeko

Soon after being sworn in as South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa mentioned that land expropriation without compensation would be effected in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA). He also assured citizens that this will be done in such a way that it will not affect agricultural production or jobs. The debates around the topic on TV and social media got young people talking about how it will affect them. This is what some Activators had to say:

Motsatsi Mmola 2013 Activator Limpopo

“United we stand divided we fall”

“Taking back the land to their rightful owners is a good thing because it’s like giving them their identity back. The main problem will be how people will use that land in order to boost our economy and create job opportunities since not everyone has the necessary skills and equipment to go into agriculture or just a small business venture. The taking back of land, does not guarantee wealth so what I think we need to do first is to change the government systems and how government does things. The problem is not that we don’t have land, the problem is that we are divided and fighting one another instead of being united and coming up with solutions.”

Siphiwe Mngadi 2016 Activator Gauteng

“Land without compensation means that government will expropriate the land without paying for it or what has been built on it. This will be done in a manner that will improve food security in the country.”

Kabelo Manamela Activator 2016 Gauteng

“My concern is not that we shouldn’t as Africans be entitled to land but the concern is the “Entitlement-mentality” that has been entrenched in our minds – indoctrination. I believe we are made to chase a ghost topic when the real issue of economic emancipation is being controlled by the minority. On the land topic, our education system has thus far as yet not prioritised the agricultural sector as a key fundamental agenda and the agricultural department is mainly seen as a cash cow for farmers, but it does not and has not played its part in entrenching farming as one of the TVET and or higher learning modules in our schools, as that is the focal point where we need to start as the majority (Africans). We are then given topics and or training on hand-work and or minor labour-intensive skills that have been the tradition since Bantu-education. The sooner we (Africans) diminish the “I deserve” mentality the better things will be for us.

A hundred years ago land was taken forcefully from their rightful owners by the oppressors and it was given to people who had power then. What about the San community who are regarded as the original descendants of the South African soil? Will they too get land?

 

Learners on gender: “Our vision is a gender fluid society”

By Nomtika Mjwana

ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, in partnership with the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) and Africa Unite, hosted a gender and gender-based violence hackathon with young community members who were predominantly learners from several high schools in the Western Cape. This took place at the Africa Unite Offices on Saturday March 10 in Spin Street, Cape Town city center.

The hackathons form part of the interconnectedness and inclusivity project that the above listed organisations (ACTIVATE! and IJR) are working on, which aims to create enabling and inclusive spaces of engagement around gender and gender-based violence, racial identity and intersectionality respectively.

“Despite 23 years of democracy and gains made in terms of access to socio-economic and civil rights the legacies of colonialism and apartheid still impacts how we relate to one another, specifically as it relates to gender. Marginalised gender identities battle to access what should be inalienable human rights, and until we address this legacy of inequality, we will fail to address the gender crisis.”- extract from the gender hackathon concept note.

The objective and purpose of the hackathon was to create a safer and brave space for learners to engage on issues of gender and gender-based violence (GBV); explore with them their perceptions around the roots causes of GBV and train them in hosting Hackathons in their own communities. Learners [Peer Educators] from Rosendale High, Simunye High in Delft Portlands High Mitchells Plein, Nelson Mandela High Nyanga and Heideveld High in Heideveld were in attendance. The group also included a few other community members, including Mr. Meyer, a teacher from Heideveld High School.

In holding the conversation, learners were first asked to identify and share what their understanding of gender, gender identity and gender roles was. “We need to understand what young people know as sexuality. They are raised and taught in a particular way, and if we want to unpack gender-based violence we need to unpack both the understanding of gender and that of violence. This way we take the conversation of GBV far beyond the heteronormative context”, Lezerine Mashaba, ACTIVATE! Interconnectedness Project Manager and the facilitator of the hackathon.

It was interesting to note that the peer educators’ definitions and understanding of gender was broader, and not so often associated with one’s sex. Furthermore, they shared interesting insights around gender as a social construct, and the confined mannerisms that gender binaries may entrench.

One of the learners spoke on how gender-based violence is primarily based on rigid gender roles, and those can be enforced through different forms of violence which can be emotional, physical, verbal, psychological and economical. They further explained that people may be violated because they are women and society feel entitled over them and their bodies, but also to other gender diverse persons because they either have a different sexual orientation from them [heterosexual] or because they do not conform to the rigid gender expectations that are placed upon individuals based on their sex assigned at birth.

Drawing to the end of the session, the learners engaged on how to create spaces of conversation and gender sensitization, as well as painted a vision of a gender just society. Some of the key elements that stood out spoke about a gender just society include:

  • A society that respects people regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity
  • No gender is dominant over the other
  • Promotion of self-love to be kind and loving to others
  • Freedom from judgement, gender stereotypes and discrimination
  • Gender fluid society and fair representation in media
  • No violence against women, children, gender diverse persons.

ACTIVATE! and IJR will continue to have these conversations on other platforms, including a webinar on March 19th and an Imbizo on March 21st , critically engaging on Human Rights and Gender Based Violence.

 

Gender-Based Violence and Human Rights Imbizo

By Rammolotsi Sothoane

The South African constitution guarantees equality for women and the LGBTQIA+ community as well as the right to freedom from violence, and access to socio-economic rights such as housing, land, health and fair labour practices.

As South Africa commemorates Human Rights Day on the 21st March, it is important to reflect on progress that has is being made to empower communities to exercise their rights as enshrined in the constitution. Notwithstanding progress that has been made through legislation focused on the promotion of redress and equality in South Africa, much still needs to be done to address the structural determinants of inequality, exclusion and fragmentation among other things.

The high and ongoing incidence of rape cases, the perpetuation of rape culture, as well as other forms of physical and psychological violence against women, girls and the LGBTIQA+ community represent a profound social challenge affecting communities across the South African society. Our efforts to build peaceful, interconnected and cohesive communities across the country must be cognizant of the dire need to address challenges facing the most vulnerable in society, centering women, children and the LGBTIQA+ community.

Gender equity and justice are fundamental human rights, guaranteed in the South African constitution. These cover political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights, including sexual and reproductive rights. Throughout history women’s rights and gender equality have been seriously undermined by patriarchal economic, trade and fiscal policies that have increased militarization, violence, poverty and inequality (United Nations Human Rights, 2014).

With respect to the afore-mentioned, it is incumbent upon to us to create enabling spaces for conversations that will ultimately propel meaningful action aimed at creating an inclusive and equitable society. ACTIVATE! Change Drivers and the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation are committed to creating platforms for critical discourse on pertinent issues affecting communities across the country. The Gender-Based Violence and Human Rights Imbizo represents an effort to promote quality education on gender and human rights in an effort to build cohesive, interconnected and inclusive communities across South Africa. Imbizo (derived from the tradition of African people) are essentially solution based dialogues aimed at creating enabling spaces for people to engage and share practical solutions to challenges affecting the nation or community.

 

The Big 5 Sectors

Our primary focus this year is the BIG 5 sectors: A! Health, A! Literacy, A! Youth Economic Participation, A! Interconnectedness & Inclusivity and Active Citizenship. These sectors were chosen by the ACTIVATE! Network through a series of engagements held across the country in 2017.

#BIG5Activated #PayingItForward #CommittedToChange

South  Africa  has  the  most serious  HIV/AIDS  epidemic  in  the  world,  with  over  six million  people  living  with  the  condition.  Moreover,  some  of  the  biggest  health  risks affecting  South  Africans  include  tuberculosis,  heart  disease,  diabetes  and  prostate cancer.   The  A!   Health   Sector   represents   an   effort   of   the  ACTIVATE!   Change Drivers     network     to     respond     to     unending     health     challenges     affecting communities across South Africa. ACTIVATE! Change Drivers recognises the important role youth can play in contributing towards addressing these and other social challenges.

In this respect, the A! Health Sector primarily sets out to elevate the work of Activators working within the health sector across various levels. The sector has initiated the A! Health Champions, in an effort to equip and empower Activators working in the health sector to be in the forefront of providing innovative solutions to challenges affecting society. The  sector  has  further  initiated  innovative  community  engagements  including Tavern Hackathons,  Clean  up  Campaigns  and  various  other  social  media  campaigns  aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles among communities in general, and youth in particular.

 

Literacy plays a vital role in the growth and development of any nation, and research has shown that the higher the rate of literacy, the better the potential to succeed. A high level of literacy can reduce poverty and crime, contribute to economic growth, and improve the  quality  of  life.  When  people  can  read  information  regarding  social  issues  affecting their communities, they are able to make informed choices. ACTIVATE! Change Drivers appreciates that the quest for the total liberation of our people begins with how knowledge is acquired, transferred and valued in society. The network has initiated the A! Literacy Sector with the primary aim of impacting how communities in general and Activators in particular engage with information in order to be empowered as functional literate citizens.

Through its GELEZA4Life strategy, the sector sets out to promote literacy as a strategic tool to address the interminable socio-economic challenges facing society today, including poverty, unemployment, and crime to name a few. In this respect, the network has committed itself  to  creating  opportunities  for  Activators  to  be  equipped  and  empowered  through various platforms to be able to contribute meaningfully into the public realm. Among these platforms are literacy exchanges, webinars, book launches and the annual literacy summit.

Economic  growth  South  Africa  has  enjoyed  in  recent  years  has  not  created  enough opportunities   for   its   young   people   to   use   their   talents   to   earn   sustainable livelihoods.  Just  over  40%  of  South  Africa’s  population  comprises  young  people, and  youth  unemployment  now  stands  at  more  than  27%  amongst  this  grouping. ACTIVATE!    Change    Drivers    is    committed    to    connecting    young    people    to opportunities  for  growth  and  development.  In  this  light,  the  network  has  initiated  the Youth Economic Participation Sector with the aim of creating opportunities for improved access   to   training,   entrepreneurship   and   employment   opportunities   for  Activators.

With   this   in   mind,   the   Youth   Economic   Participation   Sector   employs   the   A! Classifieds    and    the    Entrepreneur    Buddy    tools    respectively    to    advance    the economic  participation  of  Activators.  Through  the  A!  Classifieds,  the  network  sources employment   opportunities   and   advertises   them   on   both   its   website   and   social media    platforms.    The    Entrepreneur    Buddy    essentially    sets    out    to    connect entrepreneurs   within   the   network   to   opportunities   for   development   and   growth in   the   form   of   workshops,   seminars,   webinars   and   networking   opportunities.

South   Africa    is    a    society    essentially    characterised    by    inequality,    exclusion, marginalisation,      fragmentation      and      oppression      owing      to      a      number of     factors     including     apartheid,     patriarchy,     gender     inequality     and     racism amongst    others.        Notwithstanding    progress    that    has    been    made    through legislation    focused    on    the    promotion    of    redress    and    equality    in    South Africa, much still needs to be done to promote a sense of interconnectedness and create an inclusive South African society.  Our  efforts  to  build  peaceful,  interconnected  and sustainable  communities  across  the  country  must  be  cognizant  of  the  dire  need  to address  challenges  facing  the  most  vulnerable  in  society  including  women,  children and  the  LGBTQIA+  community.  ACTIVATE!  Change Drivers realises the importance of   creating   an   enabling   environment   for   engaging   and   critical   discourse   on   the complex social conditions influencing the interminable challenges facing society today.

The  network  has  initiated  the  Interconnectedness  and  Inclusivity  Sector  in  an  effort  to empower Activators with key competencies to contribute meaningfully towards advancing peace, interconnectedness and inclusivity within communities across South Africa. With respect  to  the  above-stated,  the  network  has  collaborated  with Activators  and  various stakeholders  to  coordinate  a  series  of  hackathons,  workshops  and  imbizos  aimed  at unpacking structural determinants of gender  injustice and gender-based violence in South Africa and exploring possible solutions thereof.

The  current  generation  of  young  people  in  South Africa  is  typically  described  as  lost, apathetic and passive among other things. It is crucial to develop an alternative narrative of young people in South Africa – one where despite the challenges of poverty, unemployment and  crime  youth  grapple  with  daily,  they  remain  actively  engaged  citizens. ACTIVATE! Change  Drivers  essentially  views  youth  change  agents  with  capacity  and  potential  to contribute positively into the public realm. The network believes that this potential must be nurtured and developed in an effort to enhance civic engagement among South Africa’s youth  and  to  promote  youth  participation  within  South  Africa’s  development  context.

In  this  respect,  the  Active  Citizenship  sector  exists  to  elevate  the  work  of  Activators, who  are  driving  social  change  through  various  community  and  youth  development initiatives  across  the  country  and  beyond.  The  sector  is  committed  to  showcasing Activator   led   initiatives   and   campaigns   that   aim   to   respond   to   pertinent   social challenges  affecting  communities.  Among  these  are  such  campaigns  as  Sanitary Pads   and   School   Bag   donations   campaigns   respectively.   Moreover,   the   sector seeks  to  promote  civic  engagement  among  Activators  through  campaigns  such  as the  Youth  Making  Local  Government  Work  campaign  which  is  designed  to  ensure Activators   navigate   the   socio-political   landscape   of   their   respective   communities.

Catching up with Frans Ntsoereng

The ACTIVATE! Network has existed for 6 years, we follow-up with Activators from 2012 to find out what progress they’ve made since completing the ACD programme. 

By Lwazi Nongauza

#SheDecides

By Rammolotsi Kgotso Sothoane

 

On 01 March 2018, the SheDecides Flagship Event brought together SheDecides Global Champions  with 200 Ministers, youth leaders and parliamentarians from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Activators working with initiatives aimed at promoting sexual and reproductive health rights and women and girl child empowerment contributed to proceedings at this progressive gathering. Among these was Bongiwe Ndlovu who works closely with the A! Health Sector and Capacity Building at ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, Zanele Mabaso and Lerato Marulane both Youth Champions for She Conquers and Kanyisa Booi who is the country representative for FEM.

SheDecides is a global movement to promote, provide, protect and enhance the fundamental rights of every girl and woman.  Among the key objectives of the SheDecides Flagship Event was that of encouraging more leaders from governments, parliaments, youth-led organisations and other supporters, in particular from the East & Southern African region, to Stand Up and Speak Out for SheDecides.

The event reaffirmed that every girl and every woman has the right to do what she chooses with her body; she has the right to health. The gathering further asserted that these rights affect her personal development, her participation in society, her livelihood and whether her family and community thrive.

In his opening remarks, South Africa’s Minister of Health Mr Aaron Motsoaledi described the SheDecides movement as a movement for humanity. “SheDecides is more than just a health issue, it is a human rights issue”, he stated. Mr Motsoaledi maintained that the SheDecides movement has the potential to fundamentally alter the power relations between men and women and therefore address the pertinent issue of gender inequality in general.

Activator and She Conquers Youth Champion Lerato Marulane echoed the Minister’s sentiments in her address. She emphatically stated that quest for gender equality must be cognizant of the need to empower women and girls to exercise their human rights.

Among the dignitaries represented at the event was Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director at UN Women, Diane Jacovella, Deputy Minister for International Development from Canada, Ulla Tornaes, Minister for Development Corporation from Denmark and Lilianne Ploumen MP and SheDecides Founding Champion to name just a few.

Key among the resolutions of the SheDecides Flagship Event was the need to mobilise communities and individuals across the world to work collaboratively towards advancing the fundamental human rights and status of women and girl children. Moreover, the event explored the pressing question of building capacity, increasing financial resources and enhancing accountability for action to achieve the afore-mentioned.

#SheDecides

#WithoutQuestion

A! Health Sector Responds to the Listeriosis Outbreak

By: Bongiwe Ndlovu

On the 5th December 2017 our Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi released a press statement informing the nation about the outbreak of Listeriosis and what causes it. On his press release he said “the bacteria is widely distributed in nature and can be found in soil, water and vegetation, animal products and fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables”. He went on to say “for this particularly outbreak, the most likely source is contamination of food at origin e.g. farms and agriculture as well as food plants.” The most recent press release took place on the 4th of March 2018, by our Minister stating that they have narrowed down the source of the deadly outbreak to Enterprise foods and Rainbow outlets. To date, the Listerioisis outbreak has claimed a total of 180 lives of which 50 people were from KZN, 92 in Western Cape and there are 436 have been reported as infected in Gauteng which is the province that has been affected the most in the country.  

As the A! Health Champions, we would like to advise the network and all young people to be vigilant of the food we consume even though we understand the high cost of food. We understand that the target foods are mostly consumed by youth in the form of school lunches and as staple food in most homes. To minimise the risks, while the investigations continue it is important to practice basic hygiene techniques such as:

 

  • Keep your hands clean at all times especially when preparing and consuming any food items.
  • Cook food thoroughly, never eat half cooked food or raw meat.
  • Keep food at safe temperatures.
  • Use safe water for domestic use at all times

We encourage people to refrain from consuming processed foods such as polony, cold meats and vienna sausages as a whole. Those can be substituted with eggs, peanut butter, jam and other healthier more organic options such as fish. We would also advise that more youth look at adding more fruit and vegetables in their diets. The vision is to move our diet from high processed fat and meat diet to a more organic diet that would ensure that children live a long a healthy life. To fight against a lowered immune system, we encourage people to incorporate daily exercise and drinking water as part of their daily routines.

Our call to action:

As A! Health champions, we understand that all parties involved are currently conducting investigations that will find the source of the outbreak so that we can ensure that no more lives are lost unnecessarily. We would also like to call on South Africans to take the matter seriously and even though it seems like a joke or a hoax to rather be safe than sorry. Just like how people did not believe the HIV/AIDS pandemic was real until it affected us personally, let us not wait until we or our loved ones are affected before we start taking precautions and taking care of our health. After all the funny social media videos are sent and gone and you(th) have received the 100 likes on social media pages, you(th) will be faced with dealing with the disease on their own. Listeriosis is real and it is killing people.

We would like to extend our deepest condolences to the families who lost their loved ones and will continue to conduct Pro-Youth Health Solutions that will look at training young people on how to live a healthy long life. We are looking forward to working with government and the private sector on how we can achieve this goal together.

We follow these investigations closely and scrutinize every decision taken as it affects every day South Africans that do not have the luxury of purchasing organic foods from high end retailers. The fact is as per Section 27 of our Constitution, everyone has the right to sufficient food, and we would like to champion that once the government and independent investigations are completed that there are legal repercussions of placing South African lives in danger in the name of profit. We want to know who will take full responsibility and compensate the families that have lost loved ones for the trauma. And we want to know what precautions are being taken to ensure that such an outbreak does not happen again. We will be at the forefront of challenging the food industry and our government in their quest to genetically modify our food to raise profits and food costs at our expense.

We as the A! Health Champions take this stance because we believe that #YouthHealthMatter

Yours sincerely

A! Health Sector Champions

What being a woman means to women in South Africa

By Kay-Dee Mashile

The 8th of March is International Women’s Day. Women have been defined differently over time. While this is a testament of the dynamic diversity embedded in the term, it may also lead to confusion as to what being a woman really means. Well, there is no better way to get an answer to that but to ask women what being a woman means to them. In conversation with women from different walks within and outside the ACTIVATE! Network, these were some of the responses to this mind-boggling question!

Activator Nthabeleng Jabani, Free State, says:

To her, being a woman means being bestowed with a privilege and a blessing while, at the same time, being given the huge responsibility of having great abilities to create, cultivate, nurture, love and forgive. “Being a woman”, Nthabeleng says, “…means the world to me!”

 

Criminology Lecturer, Mrs Kelebogile Olivier, Free State, echoes Nthabeleng’s word and basically summarises them by saying:

“Being a woman means being able!”

 

While Activator Ntokozo Mazwide Dube, Gauteng, says:

Being a means being to nurture… it is the opportunity to have your everyday work contribute to the betterment of your community and those around you.

 

Activator Motsatsi Mmola, Limpopo, says that she embodies her definition of being a woman…

To her, “Being a woman means being a Worker, an Organiser, a Manager, an Adviser, a Negotiator and a Nurse. Being a woman being an organised person… a person who has an empathetic heart, a person who always wants to see her family and community safe and happy. A woman is an advocate for her community and family… she always keeps her smile, even in tough situations. A woman always believes in God. Being a women being too hard to crack… it means being able to withstand criticism…”

 

Student Leader surprise Manyaiyi, Free State, says:

Being a woman means being strong and purposeful in what God called you for.

 

In just as few words, Activator Siphosethu January, Eastern Cape,  says:

Being a woman means being a rock, a backbone and a pillar of strength in times of weakness.

NMU student, Rumbi Sweet, Western Cape, echoes that:

Being a woman means being kind and enthusiastic. It means being hungry for successes and thirsty to achieve greatness… it means having an overcoming spirit against every challenge that presents itself and being courageous in hardships. A woman is a loving being who pleases everyone and sacrifices at the expense of her happiness. A woman is indescribable!

Being a woman means many things to men and women alike, but the greatest meaning of womanhood is the meaning we give to our lives on a daily basis… whatever walk of life we find ourselves on. For more on what South African women within and outside the A! network have to say about womanhood, follow the A! Twitter account @ActivateZA and keep an eye out on the 8th of March, International Women’s Day. Be sure to tweet us and let us know what being a woman means to you!

Tea With A Thought Leader

By Fumbatha May

Welcome to the first edition of Tea With A Thought Leader. The aim of this campaign is to connect Activators with thought leaders and their opinions through rounding up the global highlights of each month.

Fumbatha May is a data scientist and writer. He is a fellow of the (unofficial) Extended Youth Programme for Over 35s.

If you’re reading this then congratulations: you survived all of January’s 84 days and then some. It means awulogwala. That’s a good thing. We’re gonna need people like you just now. To recap, 2018 so far: we’ve yet another peaceful palace coup (but no one will call it that – “managing transition” they said), people are on the run – kuLit mntase; two movies generated conversations both here and abroad about culture; and America has had yet another tragic shooting at a high school, while here at home 4 police officers and a retired solder were gunned down while another fights for his life after a gang of gunmen shot up a police station and made off with a busload of weapons. It’s been a lot and February isn’t even over yet.

It was quite hilarious watching the newest president of the Republic of South Africa – Number 5 or #5, if you will – tie himself in knots trying to eject The Previous guy (also referred to as He Who Shall Not Be Named For A While Coz Ibhadi Nje) from office. It was all so nice. Didn’t want to embarrass him, he claimed. But the embarrassment was unavoidable and the stalemate that followed hung heavily around our necks like “an albatross of a marriage” many of us hadn’t signed up for.

In the time that the EFF has been in Parliament, they have done at least one remarkable thing that perhaps stands out most keenly from the theatrics: asking difficult questions of why and how the institutions of government are the way they are, while asking similar ones of the capitalist structures they support – urging us to rethink and unthink the things we thought we knew about politics and the economy. The already eradicated standard of debate in Parliament loudly drowned out this important conversation, providing fertile ground for the theatrics to flourish at the expense of substance

Number 5’s Mr Nice Guy act is an attempt at restoring faith in our government. It seems to be paying off a little – the USD/ZAR exchange rate improved to its best levels in 2.5 years, which is good for everyone; investor confidence is up; white people are happy again. Kumnandi maan. It’s almost like Tata’s Rainbow Years.

But we are an awake citizenry now. We have not and should not forget Marikana and their demand for a decent living wage. Number 5 is reminded of this everyday. We are reminded of what that says about his proximity to the kind of capital that has pillaged this land since the first settler colonisers arrived. You know, the White Monopoly kind. Pledges from #5 to make amends are a step in the right direction. We should be satisfied with whatever the families of the slain believe to be fair and just atonement for them. For ourselves, we must remain vigilant of any threats – from capitalism to cultural chauvinism – to our constitutionality.

Speaking of which, the film Inxeba – The Wound continues to rack up more accolades. The latest by becoming the first film in the history of cinema to be classified as pornography without featuring any frontal nudity whatsoever. A stroke of masterful genius from the producers and director – South African filmmaking is truly going places. Pornographers, on the other hand, are understandably upset at this unilateral lowering, by the FPB Appeals Tribunal, of the standard that governs their entire industry.

In a previous case brought against Dr Dingeman Rijken and his website, ulwaluko.co.za, by the Community Development Foundation of SA the Tribunal upheld a “no-under 13” rating for the site, which consisted of pictures of mutilated penises and other tragedies arising from reasons linked to the tradition of ulwaluko. In other cases dealing with content of similar themes as Inxeba the FPB has been happy for the general public to view these in cinemas or even on their TVs at home. The X18 rating of Inxeba means it can only screened in specially designated cinemas for adult content only (read: porn). The FPB Appeals Tribunal has made public the full text of its ruling on its website. It is a difficult read, which requires  at least two heads so read it out loud to each other and see if you can make sense of it.

Inconsistencies like these, read together with claims made by the previous head of the FPB that he was ejected from his position in 2017 because of his sexual orientation paint the FPB as one governed by people who make light of the very Constitution from which they derive their power.

The reason for Number 5 asking The Previous Guy to nicely go away for so long is a simple one: the integrity of these Constitutionally mandated institutions is the glue that holds a democracy together. To shove him abruptly and rudely out of the way would cause the nation to ask difficult questions about his own legitimacy. When citizens lose their faith in these institutions, only anarchy can follow.

A “BHEN! BHEN! BHEN” situation like the one in Sarafina (or Erik Killmonger’s dreams of world domination in Black Panther) may seem attractive to those of us who are fed up with unkept promises and betrayals by these institutions. But we must also face the reality of what anarchy may entail.

The fatal armed robbery of a police station in Ngcobo, in the Eastern Cape (and the context of a troubled community and the church at the heart of it all) is a classic example of how far we’ve travelled towards chaos in the last decade or so as our faith in these institutions gradually eroded. Avoiding that chaos now means a recovery of faith, both through substance and performance. The performance part is easy – it’s the substance that we lack.

That is why we need people like you who is reading this to keep your mind open to new ideas and new ways of being and of doing. Ways that do not retain the inequality-producing engine of the status quo. Speak out against injustice. Ask important questions about why things are. Demand explanations in language that is clear and straightforward. Never be afraid to unlearn what you think you already know.