The Youth of 1976 fought for a noble course: agitating for the change in conditions of young people and selflessly dedicating their lives in favor of the nation. Their struggle was not about self-enrichment but for total emancipation of young people from chains of poverty and the web of being taught by the language they did not understand. Schools, libraries and churches were meeting points that were used as a plenary for the strategies to weaken the apartheid regime. With all these events, the entertainment industry played an important role in spreading the message and fuelling the fighting spirit of freedom fighters. Concerts were used as platforms to organise and mobilise the nation.
Typical of this heroic generation, Activators in Ntuzuma echo the youth of 1976 through their Ubuciko Bomlomo Infotainment (UBI) project. UBI empowers young people with performing arts skills; with a mission to promote and uplift the local talent by spreading information through entertainment and promoting youth engagements in the community of Ntuzuma and around the area. When young people in many corners of our country yearn for parties on weekends, these Activators gather young people to showcase their talents in performing arts, to speak openly about social issues and they encourage collective response when addressing them. “UBI plays an important role in gathering young people in one place for a good cause. Being part of UBI is fulfilling, and it means that I am playing significant role in bringing change within my community” said 2015 Activator and a leader of UBI, Mlungisi Zuma.
2013 Activator Slindelo Lokishi Martin shares similar sentiments. He says that young people’s lives are changed and their world-view widens through them participating in these weekly gatherings. “UBI plays a huge role in the lives of young people of Ntuzuma Township, and this is evident even to me as the leader. We are doing something that has never been done before and this sparks initiative to young people from neighbouring communities to start doing something. We INSPIRE. UBI welcomes everyone regardless of gender or socio-economic background. As a young person growing up in Ntuzuma life was very difficult but ever since I founded UBI, I know I’ve got another family”. Martin adds that the youth involved in the program are fully committed and hardly miss sessions, and this could be because the sessions shape ideological outlook and encourage the spirit of togetherness. .
These Activators understand that education plays a major role in changing conditions and that any good cause must also weigh-in in the struggle of widening opportunities for young people who wish to advance their education. Through this, UBI recently launched an initiative called Road to University Mentorship Programme (RUMP), targeting mainly Grade 12 learners and assisting them with their university preparations by making sure they receive early mentorship on how to and when to apply for university admission, study loans ,bursaries and scholarships.
The programme works closely with career guidance from various institutions like the Durban University of Technology (DUT), the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN), University of South Africa (UNISA), University of Zululand (UNIZULU) and Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT). With all these institutions on board, the UBI team is positive that the number of students applying in universities will increase massively.
“Many young people in KZN townships don’t have access to universities; not because they don’t qualify, but because they simply don’t know the processes involved when applying for Higher Education, or financial assistance thereof. Some simply end up in the wrong career route because of insufficient career guidance. This programme is to ensure that we produce quality prospective students for universities who are ready for everything”, added 2013 Activator Nhlanhla Mkwanazi, who is part of the RUMP programme.
When young people were unaware of their conditions, when they thought their conditions would never change, artists, through music and poetry, made them conscious of their struggle and possibilities. In many cases, art has proved organise the unorganised. Ntuzuma Activators, though UBI embody the spirit of these fallen martyrs.
Education, performing arts, and consciousness are firm ground for these Activators.