Switch Seminar 2018

By Paul Mabote

Switch it up!

Switch is a 10 month Social Entrepreneurship programme powered by Activate! Switch works to connect Activators who are social entrepreneurs to relevant stakeholders and information, while opening doors for collaboration opportunities. The 2 day annual Switch seminar took place in Maboneng, Johannesburg, which saw over 70 Switchers convene there from all over South Africa. The first day of the programme was Saturday 13 October 2018.

Press Play!

Facilitated by Nhlanhla Ndlovu and Claire Gemmill, the programme took place at Workshop 17 in Maboneng. 2015 Activator Elizabeth Molobi was one of the Switchers attending the seminar.

“More than anything, the session by Black Business Council 0n ‘The art of failing’ stood out the most for me. The message I took away from it was that ‘you never really fail, until you give up.’ Also, it reminded me of Thomas Edison’s words when he said ‘Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.”

‘Harmonise your business’

The session by BBC was one of several, prepared and delivered to Switchers by a host of stakeholders, which included NYDA and Redbull Amaphiko among others.

Belisa Rodrigues of Belle and Company facilitated a session on Social Enterprise Ecosystem in South Africa. Before asking Switchers to break away and create their own Social Enterprise ecosystem, Belinda outlined some characteristics of a social enterprise: intent, business model, profit, ownership, accountability and scale.

2017 Activator Malibongwe Shabalala said “This is the session that left the longest lasting impression on me. It spoke on how to make things work together in and around your business. It is a challenge I am currently facing in my own projects and I wish the session had gone on a little longer, I felt it ended too soon”

Trademark it!

During the seminar, De Beers offered free 20 minute long one-on-one business health-checks to Switchers.  The consultations covered issues around trademark, copywriting and intellectual property. 2017 Activator Koketso Khumbula from PTA shared about his experience with De Beers:

for the first time, I learnt that registering a company is not enough. You have to trademark your business name to protect it. A registration which can last long even after your business is liquidated.”

Let’s talk

The first day of the seminar saw a panel discussion taking place, featuring representatives from Technology Innovative Agency, NYDA, Black Business Council, Redbull Amaphiko, and Shanduka Black Umbrellas. A highly interactive session it was, and Activator Tshepo Moatshe shared his sentiments about the discussion: “It would be great if in future the panellists from their different companies and organisations would have designated help desks at the seminar where Switchers can consult with them directly.”

Where’s the Money?

Other highlights from the seminar include a Finance Session, which was hosted by Asanda Nanise who outlined points relating to costing and pricing of a business product or service; and a session by Lebohang Likgojane from Facebook, who gave useful information and tips on how to grow your business online.

Some Activators’ takes on the first Day of the Switch seminar 2018

“The seminar is proving to be a huge and productive difference to what some of us left behind at home. Next time it should be one, even two weeks long.”  –Themba Reggie Ndala, Soweto, GP


“It has been quite a journey of learning and discovery. Thank you ACTIVATE! Thank you Switch! – Maidi Madidimalo, Jabavu, GP

Day 2 : 14 October 2018

The theme for the second day of the Switch Seminar 2018 : IMPACT.

A social entrepreneur sees unobvious opportunities to make an impact in the community while making a progressive living from his “hustle”. A big part of a social entrepreneur’s arsenal is the ability to present and win pitches. Where better for an Activator and social entrepreneur to master their pitching skills than at the Switch seminar?


Enter the pitching den, where Switchers  get the opportunity to have their social business ideas “switched up” and the best pitch can win up to R20 000 towards their business. Serious.

A big congratulations to the following Switchers who won the pitching den challenge:  Elethu Nkala who won R20 000, Brian Qamata who won R15 000, Vuyokazi Ntlebi who won R10 000 and Zodwa Manintswana who won R5 000. The prizes will go to supporting their respective business ventures. All Switchers who made it to the top ten each won themselves R500 worth of airtime and data. ACTIVATE! Ingeyethu!

Winning Mindset

Elethu Nkala and Brian Qamata shared their feelings about being two of the winners in the pitching den competition.

Elethu : “Everything that exists that makes your life easier, was created by someone. If you seek to do the same, you are playing your part in making the world a better place- and it will reward you.” I am going to use the prize money to purchase a container which will function as a pizza business place and a public space to use for events and functions.

Brian: “I cried when I was announced as one of the winners because it has been an emotional journey for me, leading up to the seminar. Both my parents fell very ill recently and I almost did not make it to Maboneng from Cape Town. I did not have enough transport money. The whole experience has been humbling and has shown me that whatever obstacles you encounter in life, do not have to stop you reaching for your dreams.”

Who is around you?

Other highlights from the second day of the seminar included a powerful session by Zoe from Green Pop, a company that seeks to make green-living popular.  They plant trees in different communities and have corporate partners on board. Takeaway: “Use your connections to yours and their benefit.”

ACTIVATE! CEO Chris Mentjies stopped by to see how the seminar was going and told the story which demonstrated the power of lateral thinking.

“The power that you have to change the world, is in your mind.”

Some Activators’ takes on the 2018 Switch seminar:

“The seminar was informative, challenging and provoking. “ –   Sanele Vilakazi, Durban, KZN

“I feel the seminar should have series-like seminars, where subsequent seminars focus on the action part of Activators’ ideas.”  – Elizabeth Molobi, PTA, Gauteng.

The journey of a social entrepreneur is not an easy. Worse the journey of a young social entrepreneur. Initiatives like Switch help young people navigate through the hard, dark world of Social Entrepreneurship. Big Ups and keep on keeping on!!

Paul Mabote is a member of the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers network, a writer, an artist, learner and social entrepreneur.






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.

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

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.




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!

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.”

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?


While we celebrate the heroes of the past, it is also important that we hand the heroes of today their bouquets while they can still smell the flowers. Selflessness and self-sacrifice are virtues that most, if not all, active citizens possess.

ACTIVATE! has initiated a campaign for young active citizens to identify who their active citizenry icons are and how they want to be remembered. Here are a few responses:

TV, Film Actor, Writer and Producer, Kagiso Modupe, says:

“My icon is my father. I attribute my current success and #ActiveCitizenry to the many lessons he taught me about manhood and the value of my choices. An example of my #ActiveCitizenry is my 2017 resolution to inspire 2000 men to get circumcised as a preventative measure against cervical cancer in our female partners (among other related health risks). With partners such as Brothers For Life Yenzakahle, we managed to get 420 000 men circumcised! I want to be remembered as someone who was fearless and non-conforming, a man who lived for his family and never compromised himself.” 

Activator, Sizwe Vukulu Maphindani says:

“I am inspired by the lives of freedom fighters, particularly Steve Biko and Chris Hani, who died amidst the corridors of salvation. As the President of the Black Centric Forum, I actively advocate for reparations and a collective black racial consciousness. I do this through active involvement in social justice participation and re-educational programmes where we organize black people from different religious affiliations as well as political and economic backgrounds. I also write and publish conversational African Literature under Classic Age Publishing. All in efforts to build a united black nation and that is the legacy I want to leave behind.”

Activator, Daniel Du Preez says:

“I am an #ActiveCitizen in the City of Tshwane, fighting for the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community and the homeless people in and around the city of Tshwane. I advocate for the rights of homeless people by informing the City of Tshwane that homeless people have rights, just as all other human beings do. I make people aware of the fact that homelessness forces the youth to do drugs and steal in order to provide for their needs. Let stand together to end homelessness.”

Activator Apsalom Mdluli says:

“I’m one person who doesn’t have an icon because I admire everyone who does great for their community. If there is one thing I have learned from Tata Mandela, it’s to love all children like they are my own. What I am currently doing is developing the children in my community by empowering them and making sure all their basic needs are met. I would like to be remembered as a father to all the children in my community who loved and empowered them to reach greater heights.” 


Are you an #ActiveCitizen?

Email us your 100 words answering the questions below, also remember to attach a good quality picture of yourself:

  • Who is your icon and how have they inspired you to be an active citizen?
  • What legacy would you like to leave behind?

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more #100WordsOfActiveCitizens profiles.

New King of Democracy: Data

By Koketso Marishane
For a long while in our modern day democracy, people have been controlled by the owners of their means of production, be it in agriculture, education, science, business or telecommunications. Everyone has been having a boss.
Whether you and I have been controlled by the owners of land, or preoccupied by armed conflicts revolving around land? Whether we’re concerned by the influence and power of those who own national and international patents for machines or innovations that shift power from land owners to machine owners or inventors. 
Whether we feared the owners of capital for running our lives, for creating institutions that ravage nations and create massive imbalance in the distribution of wealth? The bottom line is, capital has changed in its form. 
The recent technological advancements that we see and use, are giving us a power shift.
By now, with most people in the country and continent having access to a telecommunications device / tool, we need to take cognizant of the reality that power is changing face.
I recently attended a conference on Responsible Business Forum on Africa where the bright young minds of Africa gathered to deliberate on issues of common public concern. Listening to the great inspirational speakers from across the African continent talking about almost everything sustainable development goal, from Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and the Future of Tech, one felt that Africa is finally getting light. 
The reality is, most organizations are now looking at data as a tool to improve effectiveness and do more from less, whist others, especially those whose core mandate are built on data, as well as various governments such as Kenya, Morocco and Rwanda, are ahead of the curve and realizing that power today resides in Data. These organizations and governments have noticed and acknowledged that those able to commoditize, package and re-sell data, will have significant control over the resources, and with that, control power.
Ecotimising Evolution on Power and Armed Conflicts from Land to Machines to Data.
For the large majority of settlers during the 19th Century, economic power and wealth rested on land ownership, and still does! Whoever owns the land controls people, and other resources. And because land has been the greatest asset as a factor of production, it influenced their geo-politics, socio-economic, cultural and religious orientation:  where people lived, what they ate, how they built and their state in society. 
Naturally when it comes to conflicts, it is mostly over land. Slaves, during those times, were brought in large numbers from as far away as the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana) in West Africa to work on land, African-European land. When this is not enough, Europe went to occupy as much land as they could across the World. 
Africa was divided into tiny pieces of land, which today we call Countries, with no regard or sensitivity to the social structures. In short, the fight over land is what gave birth to Africa. But that changed at the turn of the 19th Century with the coming of age of machines and inventions that mechanized farming and farm value chain. 
Lately, it’s becoming almost null and void about who owns the land. Unlike before, it was about production and machines. Whoever had the means of production (machines) controlled people. And so slaves were no longer needed in large numbers as before. They needed fewer people to occupy less land, but work on large sections of it using machines. And so many slaves were shipped back to Africa, first to create space, but also to allow for skilled labour which Europe could now provide. 
Support for the abolition of slavery was therefore not purely a moral decision-it was a response to the coming of age of machines and inventions. Those left were pushed to small segments of land- the ones we call today slave countries-Haiti, Jamaica etc. 
The greatest experiment with returning slavery was in Africa, where a small group of returning slaves from America created a new ethnic grouping known as American-Liberians. To date, they still control that land, which they renamed Liberia. Others found themselves in Brazil and the Caribbean. Benevolence, while playing apart in ending slavery, was not in itself a strong catalyst. It was the Machines. Still, conflicts moved from battles over land to patents and machinery. 
Land occupation across vast places such as Africa, Latin America and Asia, by Europeans, became increasingly unnecessary. They could exercise power and control people by merely mechanizing large swaths of land in places like Brazil, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Sri Lanka and India. Colonialism thus moved from occupation to controlled availability of machines and mechanical means of production. 
Capital Emergence
The owners of the means of production (machines) could not do much without Capital. Land continues to be good. Machines are even better, although Capital has been King. Paper money and gold became the new centres of power. Slaves were needed, but as consumers of capital and not as producers of wealth. And with it came the kind of colonial education that has ravaged most of Africa and Latin America. Capital needed to be reproduced, and the best way to do this was to increase consumption in a completely new industry-service industry. 
It is where Capital is multiplied through the consumption of luxury goods. Machines and land are still valuable, though only in their ability to reproduce capital-money and gold. Mining gold and other capital yielding minerals became the center-piece. Having oil reserves meant you could afford power of luxury living, move machines and control land. Capital easily became king. 
Now it didn’t matter if you owned land or machines. Your land and inventions needed capital to have value. Conflicts were over money. If you had money you had the ability to start or end conflicts. 
The establishment of the Bretton Woods Institutions such as IFC, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and all those institutions that control how capital flows are all part of this power and control. The WTO came primarily to shift the flow of capital. We now have stock exchanges and derivatives and sub-prime mortgages and investment banks. Africa has for a long time been persuaded that what it needed was not more production, but more money to meet the costs of those production. 
Education was not necessarily about producing independent critical thinkers, more, about how to secure jobs so as to earn capital and use the capital to consume goods and services produced. Only that no one was told who was doing the production. We did not have to care. 
We only needed to know that if we have capital, we can consume whatever we want. And so in came GMOs and all manner of mass production that capitalized on capital reproduction. Whenever there were conflicts, it was hardly over land or machines. It was over capital distribution. Oil and Minerals were valued, not for their intrinsic value, but for their ability to be converted to capital, and be reproduced.
Time has changed and data is the new oil: The King. 
Intrinsically speaking, today our capital is nothing compared to whoever owns data on humans, on the planet or on the world. The person (company or organisation) who owns information about us- our land, our machines, our capital-controls us, indirectly so! Data has become the new global power. With our data easy to analyse through the use of Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence (AI), it’s possible to draw our profiles and everything about our personalities and economic value.
Monetising Movement: Data collection – Commoditize it – Sell it.
We’re now learning that data has become the new power. It works in fascinating ways. For example, someone (your spouse, sibling or offspring) takes your data from you under the guise of safe keeping or free storage or giving you “better user experience”. But once that person has enough of it, he/she can use it to analyze you, and when you want to proceed to sell the new information to gain capital, you might as well put price to it. If you want it back, well, buy it! 
The reality is, we often times than not think we have power because we have capital but, until we discover that the data we have about ourselves in our respective spaces can bring us down in a minute. 
Today, in the world of data machine learning and artificial intelligence and we have several layers of capital flow. Swam and Honey economies-capitalizing on the ability to bring together like-minded people who have been matched by algorithms and artificial intelligence-is the new language. 
It is now the engine of capital-the ability for different owners of data to use it to create a power that can generate infinite capital. All the different global corporate (Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, all the way to Airport and Border controls, Cambridge Analytica) and even the new control used to keep some undesirable governments in check- is all based on Data, not capital or machines or land.
Imagine one million doctors working on one single idea-creation using Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
What about 100 million engineers working on analysed data to build something together? Or even worse, imagine politicians with the perfect knowledge and ability to understand every emotional, physical and social aspects of voters? Imagine they can manipulate that to control us and decide what we buy and how and whom we vote. Well, for the big majority among us, some online platforms have taught us not to imagine these anymore because it’s already happening. 
If things go well, Africans within the African continent will soon be using a single data platform for connectivity across the continent. No more multiple sim cards for every country you travel and no more international roaming when you cross borders because we’re together working on a new information and communications technology spectrum.  
Thus, as we continue making strides for human advancement, let it be known that the future of power has now become data. 
To the stubborn people, the question is: which battle are you stuck fighting: Land? Machines? Capital? Or are you in the age of information power? The Data power!
Koketso Marishane is the NDP 2030 South African Youth Ambassador and writes as an active citizen.
Photo credit: WinPure

The death of consciousness is a threat to active citizenship

By Prince Charles

“It is not the consciousness of men [people] that determines their being, but, on the contrary, it is their social being that determines their consciousness.” Karl Marx

Human consciousness is an extremely complex and complicated concept to define, this is due to its wide scope that encompasses sociology, philosophy and psychology. Consciousness like all social constructs takes different forms and shapes throughout society, in the case of South Africa it has been consciousness in its political form that has dominated the greater part of the nation’s history in the last century. Political consciousness in South Africa was effectively utilised as a tool for mass mobilisation and became a conduit or vehicle to social change. It is due to that fact that the death of consciousness becomes a matter of serious concern which warrants greater interrogation. The death of consciousness is not only a threat to active citizenship but it is a bigger threat to participatory democracy, nation building and by implication a threat to development. The death of consciousness is indicative of a failing state and a society that is perishing; however to paraphrase the words of the Spanish essayist Miguel de Unamuno in his famous novel ‘The tragic sense of life’ where he argues “society is perishing, that may be, but let us perish resisting and if it is nothingness that awaits us let us so act that it will be an unjust fate”. Therefore the demise of consciousness has to be reversed so that a revival of a progressive consciousness which promotes an active citizenry can take its place and become a national duty.

The dictionary simply defines consciousness as ‘a sense of being aware of, alert and responsive to one’s surroundings’. This therefore implies that the death of consciousness means the complete lack or decline of awareness, alertness and responsiveness to one’s surroundings. Interestingly there exists a strong mutually inclusive relationship between consciousness and active citizenship; this is because once a society becomes aware, alert and responsive to its surroundings (particularly if they are detrimental to it) that society will develop ideas (ideologies) which aim to explain those surroundings and how to change them. Ideologies unfortunately cannot change surroundings solely on their own because they require vehicles to take them through history, they need institutions. This is how political parties, ngo’s, schools of art, churches and lobby groups begin; they are a means of putting ideologies into action. It is impossible to achieve this without recruiting and mobilising the population. This in essence means that consciousness is the building block of institutions, while institutions are building blocks of society. If consciousness dies in society so will the institutions followed by that entire society.

Karl Marx’s conflict perspective however complicates the entire analogy by its introduction of a concept it terms ‘false-consciousness’. Instead of society becoming a participant in its own governance it unfortunately becomes a wilful participant in its own oppression. A perfect example of this detrimental misrepresentation of consciousness is the current service delivery protests plaguing South Africa. Due to the death of progressive consciousness communities are under the mistaken impression that they are being active citizens who are holding their government to account; this they do by demanding services while destroying existing infrastructure. Communities burn schools, halls, libraries and police stations demanding clinics and electricity. This form of consciousness creates a vicious cycle of violence which erodes all forms of social cohesion. The ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe a few years ago released a diagnostic report which aimed to explain why the party was experiencing a steady decline, chief amongst the reasons was that money had replaced consciousness as the basis for being elected into leadership positions at all levels of the party. If the ANC as a ruling party and a leader of society can admit to such one can imagine the damage to the rest of society’s institutions.

The death of consciousness is a threat to active citizenship and democracy. An active citizenry which is guided by a progressive consciousness is less likely to be swayed by populism, a conscious population is less likely to burn its own infrastructure, and a conscious population easily picks up populist rhetoric. Who is responsible for the death of consciousness? Political elites seem to be the only beneficiaries from the death of consciousness, what they do not realise is that a false consciousness is not a solid foundation for building a nation. A critical question to ask therefore as we close youth month is how do we improve the quality of our consciousness in South Africa and how will that improvement affect the quality of civic participation in local and national issues; and how can we use active citizenship as a barometer to measure both.








June 16 Uprisings should be as is!

By Koketso Marishane
The ANC led government has amusingly made a fascinating declaration, June as the Youth Month in the Republic of South Africa. Fascinating because, that declaration was informed by the quest to honour the youth of Soweto, who in June 1976, revolted against Bantu Education, and most precisely, against the system of white settle colonialism.  
As living history would attest, that the uprisings wouldn’t have occurred had it not been for the Black Consciousness Movement, the political formation that provided leadership at that time, fueled the fires to spread the uprisings throughout the country, which was supposed to be ‘Azania’. 
May those with selective memory be reminded that the 16 June Uprisings Day should be left as is, nothing more, nothing less. For it’s important that the current generations and the following, must know about the June 16 Uprisings, when high school black learners, among them as young as 12yrs, were engaged in peaceful demonstrations against being taught in the language of the oppressors, Afrikaans. Thus, the apartheid regime reacted with brute force, shifting down hundreds of defenseless and unarmed young people.
However, as reality shows, that the South African history is mostly written by the imperialists, colonialists and the victors, there’s seemingly concerted effort by some in the ruling party that’s now promoting elitism, to erase the contribution of the Black Consciousness Movement in the liberation struggle of South Africa, and precisely that of the South Western Township (SOWETO). Although it’s questionable why such heroic movements are not historically recognized, living history attests that, indeed, it is an undeniable fact that in the mid1970s there was no other component of the liberation movement that was active within the country apart from the BCM. Some within the 1976 student ranks eventually defected to the ANC reluctantly admit that they were active in the South Africa Students Movement. 
As records would testify, the June 16 Uprisings revived the exiled political  movements – the ANC and the PAC.  Thousands of young people were forced to flee the country in the aftermath of the uprisings, and many of them found themselves without any political home in exile because the BCM had no yet established strong formal organisations with the necessary capacity outside the country at the time.  Records show that most young people strayed into the ranks of MK and the APLA, and after 1976, South Africa changed. There is no doubt that the 1976 generation was a huge catalyst for the final push to dislodge the white minority regime from power in 1994. 
The current youth need to object to the “Youth Day” mentality because it’s seemingly based on its deliberate attempt to depoliticise the Soweto Uprising. As such, amusingly joyful festivities are continuously staged for June 16 by the forces of doom. The position per records should be, that June 16 should be a day that the South African nation remembers with dignity. Simply put, June 16 should be a day that the country reaffirms its vow to create a just and equal society in honour of our fallen heroes. #NDP2030Vision
We all that there are political reasons why the current government would like to essentially remove June 16 Uprisings from the national psyche and replace it with the politically amorphous Youth Day, hence the youth must take conscious and frank decisions about the direction this day represents.   
For the record, the June 16 Uprising was not a spontaneous act of rebellion as some would suggest or like us believe. Lest we forget iconic leaders like Jafta Jeff Masemola, the longest serving political prisoner on Robben Island. The June 16 Uprising was a culmination of the radical mobilisation of the youth by Black Conscious-aligned organisations such as the South African Student Organisation (SASO), the Black People’s Convention (BPC) and the South African Students Movement (SASM) led by young militants like Tsietsi Mashinini and Khotso Seatlholo, the Soweto Students Representative Council (SSRC) that provided immediate leadership to the black students was a direct formation of SASM.
Photo credit: Mpumalanga News
Koketso Marishane is the NDP 2030 (Youth) Ambassador and writes as a concerned citizen.

Activators Weigh In on the Hate Speech Bill

By Paul Mabote

Activators reflect on the tabling by SA parliament of the new Hate Speech Bill


Jail is definitely not a nice place. The thought alone shakes most of us and we absolutely hate the idea of ever being imprisoned. Well, how about spending 3 years of your life in prison for saying something “hateful” to someone? WHAT?? WHERE?? – In Mzansi, of course!

The big word is:  Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill. The adoption of this newly amended document by parliament means that you can now be prosecuted for maliciously discriminating against someone on the basis of age, colour, gender-identity, disability and 13 other characteristics. It’s easy to be left speechless, hey. Fellow Activators who have read the Bill, however, had a ton lot to say about it.

A Lot Happens Behind Closed Doors

2013 Activator Kabelo Colin Mokoena from Reitz Petsana in the Free State says that the laws stipulated in the Bill are very good on paper and the Bill promises justice. He is doubtful, however, that the law will be feasible when applied in real life situations. He says that it will be very hard to track down and punish cyber bullies, for instance, who commit hate speech offences under fake social media accounts.

Kabelo shares in a recent voice note, that, “The issue of Hate Crimes is already adequately covered under our constitutional law, whereby if you inflict physical harm on someone, justifiable legal action can be taken against you as physical evidence can be more easily gathered.  The challenge to prove the crime grows bigger when it is a verbal abuse crime. Over and above, I think the bill might be helpful to caution people who commit such crimes in public. I think the bill will make them think twice about their behaviour, at least in the public eye. A lot of reconciliation still needs to be done by us as a nation and the first step should be unlearning the hatred we have for one another over our differences.”

Throw Away The Keys!!!

Sehlorana Penester Tjale is a 2017 Activator, 2018 Switcher from Pretoria. She says that she sees the need for the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill to exist.

“I think it is fair to a certain degree – as previous offenders used to use Hate Speech as they pleased. This new Bill will make sure that people think carefully before speaking. It somehow imposes a sense of responsibility for all South Africans citizens with regards to how they address fellow compatriots. In all honesty, I would make it compulsory for the offender to not only be imprisoned for a period of a year or longer, but to also pay a fine of R10 000 to the victim!”

Paul: Do you not think we would have a problem of overcrowded prisons, if too many people are convicted of Hate Speech crimes?

Penester:  Maybe not, because people would be afraid of going to prison for using Hate Speech. But if it so happens that prisons become overcrowded because of these perpetrators, then we can always build rehabilitation centres specifically for them.

Kill Bill

Mosimanegape Mampe is a 2018 Activator from Kagiso, West of Johannesburg. He also agrees that the Bill is not going to stop people being nasty behind closed doors. He believes that hatred, as aimed to be done away by in the bill, is not just something you can cut off on the surface. You have to uproot it from the core, and teach love and tolerance instead. He says that we have learned to enjoy and promote social division, to such an extent that we need to have laws put in place just to bring us together.

Mosimanegape asks : “What about Freedom of Speech? Does the new law say I now have limited Freedom to say what I want? Here’s my thing : Cigarettes kill people. It says even on the packaging that smoking kills, but people still go out and buy cigarettes- and they smoke them! There’s illegal cigarettes, they hurt the economy – but people still buy them! What makes you think someone is going to stop being racist just because it’s illegal to be racist? Isn’t that in itself discrimination? I say let people be, nje! Kuyok’siza!”

The Law Has The Last Word

An excerpt from the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill reads:

  • “Section 9(1) of the constitution provides that everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.
  • Section 9(3) and (4) of the Constitution provides that neither the state nor any person may, directly or indirectly, discriminate unfairly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.”

 Think before you express yourself, Activator – Kuyok’siza Lokho!!

Sources :

  1. Kabelo Mokoena (Activator)
  2. Sehlorana Penester Tjale (Activator)
  3. Mosimanegape Mampe (Activator)

(As introduced in the National Assembly (proposed section 75); explanatory summary of Bill published in Government Gazette No 41543 of 29 March 2018) (The English text is the official text of the Bill).

  1. Business Tech

   Photo credit: INcontext


By Paul Mabote

Africa! Azania! The Mother land! The continent by any other name will still be as rich and as abundantly blessed! May 25th is Africa Day, people – so Happy Africa Month! But, why May 25th?  Well, on the same day in 1963, the organisation of African Unity (OAU), which we now know as the African Union (AU) was formed. Africa Day presents a chance for South Africans to reconnect with the rest of the continent, and reflect on the common challenges we face on an international scope.

I asked some Activators what to them is the most burning issue right now concerning Africa as a continent, and what in their opinions are possible, effective solutions. I can tell you one thing: Hell has no fury like an Activator speaking their mind!


Sabatha Segoba is a 2015 Activator from Parys in the Free State. He is a theology student at TEEC and holds a Bachelors in commerce from Monash University SA.

Paul                       : So, Sabatha, what issue are you mostly burned by, in the African context?

Sabatha                : Corruption, chief, which stands in the way of efficient public service delivery.

Paul                       : in your opinion, is this corruption a continental issue only we have as Africans?

Sabatha                : No. I believe it goes even beyond. It‘s global. Because of power struggles, leaders in most African countries are already corrupt. When external forces who want to have control over precious African assets take control of these corrupt minds, the level of corruption escalates exponentially.

Sabatha likens Africa to a strong and powerful lion which everyone wants to rule and control, so that they themselves can be recognised as strong and powerful. As a solution to the rampant corruption, he says that the conservation of humanity should be made first priority. That leaders should be “more careful not to be distracted by a piece of cake, while the stream of precious water is being polluted.” #POWERFUL

Two sides to every slice of cake!

Meet Sindisa Qeqe, a vibrant and energetic 2018 Activator, born in De Aar. She is the founder of Sisterhood Heroines, an organization which is in support of women upliftment and advocates against gender based violence and abuse. Being a sexual assault survivor herself, Sindi’s viewpoint after her ordeal is quite an unanticipated one.

Sindisa states that while most of the focus is put on the victims of gender based violence and abuse; often what is overlooked is the deeper motivation behind the crimes, as well as the detailed backgrounds of the perpetrators. She believes the effects of the issue can be curbed if as much, if not more attention can be given to developing and empowering the African boy child. Good, present fathers raise good, present fathers.

Land of the (Free Land)

In the year 2000, the Zimbabwean National Government expropriated land from white commercial farmers without compensation. After years of gradual economic decline, the Zimbabwean government has, under its land acquisition act, established a compensation committee that will allow for those farmers to be compensated, after all. South Africa is currently walking the same line, with the ANC and the EFF both pushing for the South African constitution to be changed to allow for land expropriation without compensation. This is a hotly debated issue.

2017 Activator Tshepo Moatshe from Fine Town in Gauteng says “bring back the land!”  He says that he is offended by the fact that a huge amount of land is “unrightfully” owned, while poor people (including some friends and relatives) are without proper and sufficient residential space. Tshepo says that once the land has been expropriated, it should be utilized to build new homes, universities and other institutions that will have a positive contribution to the people and the economy of the country.

Buy it in Afros!

Vukulu Sizwe Maphindani is a 2015 Activator, an author, public speaker and he runs his own publishing company, Classic Age Publishing; which has published more than 16 books by African writers. In his own book, Message to a Black man in Africa, Sizwe calls to Black Africans to “own their minds and take control of their psychology, communities and businesses.” Sizwe has gotten vast public and media attention since the release of his book, and he says that is owed to the sincere and unapologetic tone contained in the expression of his ideas.

Paul       : What is your take on the idea of a one-currency Africa, Mr Maphindani?

Sizwe    : I believe it is absolutely possible. With no doubt. I mean America has 52 states, some of which are big enough to be countries, and they all use one currency, the American dollar. The Western world is aware that if Africa singularize its currency, and base it on its minerals, the African economy would be untouchable. Hence any and all efforts by African leaders towards that direction have been met with fatal resistance.

Sizwe is also part of the radical Black Nationalist Movement whose purpose is to uplift the black society by instilling qualities of self-determination, and to encourage organic black unity. His book is available at most Bargain book stores across the country.

Who knows? In the near future we may be able to buy anything in Afros!!! Shona Malanga!! One love!    

Photo credit: Journalism




She Rose

By Kanyisa Booi

For history to be truly credible we must move toward total recall. May is named Africa month because the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) was established on the 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa. The mandate? To unite in the quest to rid Africa of colonialism and defend the sovereignty of African states.  What we must know is- on the 31 July 1962 in Tanganyika (now called Tanzania) a Conference of African Women resulted in the establishment of what is now known as Pan African Women’s Organisation (PAWO) and in 1974 this day was decalred as the Pan African Women’s Day. PAWO sort to: advance unity amongst African states, eradicate the blatant violation of human rights, advance the struggle of women to participate in decision making in politics, economics, cultural and social spaces. There is little concession; however it is clear that the AOU was cut from the PAWO cloth. Who were these women who spear headed such a huge vision, why were they sidelined from OAU (now known as AU  African Union) for over 39 years?

Jeanne Martin Cissé  was born in Kankan Guinea. She started off as a teacher until Guinea gained independence in 1958. She invested her time as a trade unionist and an integral part of women’s movements. As such, she was first general secretary of PAWO from 1962 at the pinnacle of the vision until 1972. She moved on to become Minister of Social Affairs in Guinea and in that time she became a member of the United Nations (UN) Special Committee Against Apartheid. Amongst many accolades Cissé was awarded The Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in Silver for “Her excellent contribution to denouncing apartheid on the world stage of the United Nations and her stand against injustices that were happening in South Africa during apartheid.”- The South African Presidency.

Phumla  Ngozwana Kisosonkole was born is South Africa, married a Ugandan national and moved to Uganda. Though as a married woman in colonial Uganda she was restricted from much educational posts; she became the first African woman on the Legislative Council for Protectorate Government in 1956. In the council she punted the rights and development of women.  In 1962 in a speech at the formation of PAWO Phumla said “These days the cry of the “role of women” is being heard in Africa from East to West, and from North to South. What is the answer for East Africa? Times have changed and are changing very fast, and the woman must change with them in order that she does not become the “forgotten factor” . . . and [she] will be ready and willing to play the fullest part in shaping the destinies of her country.”

African female revolutionaries have and continue to pave the way for this continent. The fearless calling out of the systemic injustice, while fighting for their own place in the world as women is a subject that has pertinence to this day. This Africa month as we “build a Better Africa and a Better World” we must recall how we got to this point in totality because it matter to future generations the stories we tell about Africa and how SHE ROSE.












By Prince Charles


“Burning things in anger is sometimes understandable but it is not necessarily good for social change because when the anger subsides it leaves us poorer. We need to organise our anger differently and think of innovative ways of change which will inspire and capture people’s imaginations” Mark Heywood

ACTIVATE! Change Drivers in its quest to empower young change makers across South Africa partnered with seven stake holders (KFW, Department of Health, Section 27, Youth Against Aids, Drama for Life, YouthLab and Empowervate) to present the A! Youth Activism Workshop at the eKhaya Theatre at the Wits University Art Museum in Johannesburg from the 14th May 2018 until 16th May 2018. The objectives of the workshop were to reemphasise and provide an overview of the ‘Big 5’ focus areas adopted by the youth network which are 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. Futhermore the workshop wanted to provide its participants with a global context of youth activism and the importance of the arts as a form of activism.

American art critic and philosopher Arthur Danto had a profound interest in the origins of the arts; he concluded that human beings are what he termed ‘ends representers’. This means that human beings unlike animals engage with the world and afterwards represent the world back to itself. Human beings do this because they are intuitive makers who create narratives out of their representation of the world; this is the basis on which all forms of art originate. Whether through drama, song, poetry or dance throughout human history art has been the fundamental engine for human evolution. This is one of the reasons why Activate! decided to host the youth activism workshop at the Wits Art Museum’s eKhaya theatre and invite over forty activators from all the nine provinces driving change in different sectors.

The workshop was kick started by Lwazi Mdlopane of KfW who explored the various strategies for effective activism and advocacy, the highly interactive (sometimes heated) discussion concluded in agreement that effective activism is and should be built on four important pillars namely; learn, listen, leverage and lead. This was promptly followed Hasina Subedar of the department of health who primarily led a discussion around two focus area which were the She Conquers campaign and the Bewise program. The She Conquers campaign was launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa while he was in his capacity as the chairperson of the Aids council; this was in response to alarming research figures which revealed that the 15-24 age groups were profoundly affected by the Aids pandemic. These shocking figures therefore called for a societal led strategy which aimed to fight the rise of new infections while at the same time educating and mobilising the population. This is where the German NGO Youth Against Aids headed by Daniel Nagel, Roman Malessa came in to present its work and its drive to get over 300 young people from BRICS nations to attend the upcoming Aids conference in Amsterdam.

Policy think tanks YouthLab represented by Pearl Pillay and Tessa Dooms engaged activators on the importance of policy in activism, according to Tessa Dooms “policy is central to activism and it starts with a person having an idea that something has to change”.  It was however Section 27’s Mark Heywood who laid bare the dire conditions currently besieging our country and how young people through their activism could change the directions of our country. He started his address by saying “I am glad Activate! has nearly three thousand activators, I wish it could be three hundred thousand so that it becomes a name associated with social justice more strongly”.  He argued that young people are not apathetic but have been disempowered and therefore needed to organise their anger in order to find their power; “it is not enough to merely say Mandela was a sell-out, Ramaphosa is a sell-out, parliament is a sell-out so I want nothing to do them, that is where power currently resides and young people therefore have to find a way (through activism) to talk to that power and to change how it works in order to take some of it for themselves”. The constitution according to Mark Heywood is the source of our power, it can only be powerful if we use it; it is not enough to just quote what the constitution says but young people need to mobilise and organise around what the constitution says. This is where the Activate! hackathons become an instrumental tool of mobilisation, because they zone in on specific areas in order to broaden understanding.

Throughout the entire workshop Drama for life, Classic Designs and Forsh Pilato gave powerful performances using dance, poetry and music as methods to communicate social challenges. This they argue is effective because a majority of workshops, conferences and seminars still concentrate on one part of the body which is the head, yet human beings think kinaesthetically. This deliberate disembodiment of human beings causes serious disconnections when certain messages have to be communicated. The ‘toyi’toyi’ dance in South Africa has become a national symbolic dance for struggle, it is a representation of unhappiness, even those who cannot comprehend complex issues know once they see the dance they understand that something is amiss. Therefore theatre is a powerful tool for social change, which change drivers should heavily invest in because if we are realists we must understand that we cannot microwave social change. Social change is in essence about engaging with power; however young people need to locate their power in order for them to effect change.







Minimum wage or minimum growth?

By Nomvuyo Sebeko

In 1891 the workers went on strike to fight for better working conditions. In April 2018 workers took it to the street to fight against minimum wage and for better salaries. We asked Activators what they think about the newly announced minimum wage and this is what they had to say:

Sindisa Qeqe Activator 2018 Northern Cape

For me the national minimum wage is small, imagine coming from university and earning that amount. It might be another way of teaching us to stop learning to be employees but employers. We can open our own business and create jobs instead of waiting for the government to do things for us. When will our laziness stop? When will the blame stop? We need to get out of our comfort zone.

Tebogo Phaahle Activator 2017 Gauteng

R3500 is not enough to meet my basic needs I will never accept it, Vat being 15% makes matters worse. Unfortunately I was retrenched two months ago and got the taste of a R5000 salary which was also not enough imagine R3500? Looking at transport and accommodation that takes about  50% of your salary not mentioning basic needs. So I say know your worth and don’t succumb to R3500 p/m, the value of education and your hard work is expensive. Opening your business is much better than R3500 all you need to do is work hard to find investors.

Caroline Shabangu Activator 2018 Gauteng

I think it is not a good idea to pay people R3500 p/m because some of us have families that need to be taken care of. Again looking at the bright side it is better than nothing so one might go for it. If you are sitting at home hungry and doing nothing R3500 might be a lot. It is also a good way to get experience so that when another better post says two years’ experience you have it. You must take the small steps for the future to get there.

Afikile Tshona Activator 2016 KZN

In my opinion this law of minimum wage of R20 per hour is an insult to us and it is not a living wage. The cost of living is too high in our current economy in the country. The government should increase it again by making it R32 per hour. In that way it will be better than R20. to be honest. R20 is not enough to support our families and be able to travel to work every day.

A South African president earns R2, 7716,798 p/y, the national assembly speaker earns R226, 400p/m and the deputy speaker earns R158, 477p/m while the ministers earn about R192, 439p/m. How minimum is our cabinet salaries? With just one salary they can pay thousands of employees. They even get benefits on top of their salaries to pay for accommodation and buy cars while the  person on the ground level have buy food, pay school fees, pay for accommodation and transport with only just R3500p/m. who is fooling who?

Lokishi – My voice, my invoice.

Name: Silindelo Martin

Province: KZN, Ntuzuma Township

Facebook: Lokishi Comrade Martin

Twitter handle: @Lokishi745

Instagram: Lokishi_Comrade_Martin

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

Silindelo Martin better known as Lokishi From Ntuzuma , is a young radical community developer, youth programmes facilitator, event organiser and a community champion, a member of  Ntuzuma municipality library committee, facilitator at AIDS Foundation of South Africa  (AFSA ) and Youth Making Local Government Work member since 2016.

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

Fortunately or otherwise I joined the ACTIVATE! network  in a very interesting way, I posted a picture on Facebook of a youth dialogue and then I was approached by one of the ACTIVATE! facilitators to apply for ACTIVATE! networks back in 2012, because I was already doing something for my community, I applied in 2012 and went through  the interview process and the rest is history but that’s how I joined ACTIVATE!

What did you enjoy the most about training?

It will have to be the Project Planning or Project Model that I enjoyed the most,  as these sessions happened to be the most challenging sessions during training, but if you master them very well they can help you open many big closed doors and I have implemented them into many programs.

How has training helped you or changed your perspective?

Training helped me to be better in whatever I do as a person and it also helped me to work easily with peers in any given social  space, now I am able to bring meaningful  impact and direction to other young people.

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

Yes, I have been inspired by many things but lately I am inspired by the idea of turning A! stations to youth centres,  something that will serve the community even if ACTIVATE!  no longer exists, therefore I am inspired to work hard in order to turn that dream into reality and hopefully that will serve as inspiration even to the coming generations.

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

Our role as young people is to get involved in everything progressive in order to influence  the decisions taken by government, decision making and youth policies. As young people we must be involved  in every development of this country by organizing ourselves for better opportunities.

You can’t say you want employment but you don’t have a ready made CV, as young people we must play our role by meeting government half way in terms of development. Young people are like coal in a moving train so we need to invigorate young people with skills so they can be able to contribute and play a meaningful role in the development of the country. As a result, the role of young people in a developing country is to influence decision making and policy.

What is your field of interest?

For now my field of interest is education and health more especially in supporting young people in accessing tertiary education information and sexual reproductive health education to adolescence girls and young women.

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

In general  I drive change in many different spaces and social platforms but I am currently driving change  within the health sector and education by ensuring that young people have full access to health facilities and in higher education institutions on time and easily.

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

As a person who’s  always  active in participating in programs happening within the network, there isn’t much I will change besides to consistently keep on participating like before and I am looking forward to creating new connections with new Activators, I want to continue to surround myself with the best.

What are your plans for this year?

Personally it is to finish my BA: Community Development with the University of South Africa  ( UNISA ) and it won’t be easy because I am not funded. The plan for  my community this year  is to host the biggest  career annual expo that will be able to accommodate 20 or more local schools  in one Day.

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

Emails and other  social  media platforms  are still doing  a good job for me.

Additional information you would like us to know?

The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.

From Africa to the world – A leader emerging

Name: Isasiphinkosi Mdingi

Province: Eastern Cape

Facebook: Isa Mdingi

Twitter handle: @Endinakokulue

Instagram: mbely_isaar

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

Isasiphinkosi is a young driven activist and leader who is passionate about community work, children rights, human rights, gender issues and social justice. Her long standing interest in striving to alleviate poverty, gender oppression and liberation of women is premised from a lived experience. She always aims for the impossible and works hard to achieve, a risk taker and does not sell herself short.

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

I wanted to grow in leadership as a young leader and activate was offering that great platform for me. Also, I wanted to be among other great leaders and learn from them about how they go about making an impact in their own societies.

What did you enjoy the most about training?

I enjoyed the interaction with other recipients, the insightful discussions we would have. Three highlights for me in the training was in module 1 doing wash line, module 2 learning about different leadership styles and module 3 talking about Africa.

How has training helped you or changed your perspective?

The training has helped me on how I engage and finding solutions to problems as I love solving problems. It has changed my perspective when it comes to working with communities and using resources one have.

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

I have been inspired by quite a number of phenomenal women whom I met before and during my Activate training to name a few Aphiwe Ntlemeza, Yolokazi Mfutho and Sibongile Tontsi. Their work inspires me to do good. I have also been inspired by the learners I always come across when I visit their schools eager to change their background as a result some of them I mentor and are now pursuing their degrees/diplomas in different fields.

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

South African youth has a huge role to play in the development of the country, firstly, they are the ones who are to shape the future of the country for the current generation and generations to come. Secondly, young people constitute a large number in the population of the country and are mostly affected by diseases, unemployment and poverty. Lastly, it is now upon them to deliver the country to the economic liberation it needs.

What is your field of interest?

Gender, education and development.

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

I have been involved in the fight against gender based violence and rape culture more especially while I was still at the University of Fort Hare. Through United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA Youth Advisory Panel) I have been actively involved in making sure young people what are Sexual Reproductive Health Rights. In addition, on my personal capacity have been doing career guidance and mentoring to high school learners from disadvantaged communities.

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

I have been active through attending programs organized by Activate! like the A! engagement that was held in Port Elizabeth.

What are your plans for this year?

This year I am planning to do my masters overseas if I do get a scholarship, continue with my community work in helping grade 12 learners in their journey post-matric.

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

Yes, it has been effective for me so far as I constantly receive emails and see updates on the Facebook group.

Additional information you would like us to know?

I will be leaving the country going to the United States of America, I have been invited by the Department of State to receive an award as an Emerging Young Leader I will be joining other young leader from 9 different other countries in Washington, DC.

Activated! The journey to discovering you are not alone!


“… kuzoba Lit…” this has become the new anthem for activators who attended the activate leadership training in Empangeni, KZN under the radiant Nonkululeko Hlongwane, the luminescent Brian Mchunu, our  Captain Shakespere Baleni and the ever organised Patrick Mcobothi, we were whipped into shape, broken down and put together through hours of sessions, activities and reflections forming connection from day 1.

Having grown up in hostel with rules and schedules, I appreciated  Patrick’s stickler for managing time and organising sessions right down to a tee, that taught me mostly that we are not on the same schedule, that our goal is the same but how we get there is different the idea is to connect people or with people, inspire positive change in our communities, provoke critical thinking and problem solve on a molecular level within communities and influence the generation to come to continue the work and sometime a little smile is all it takes to change someone’s situation.

With civil war and hostility brewing just below the skin of our rainbow nation and violence and bloodshed being what brought us freedom in the first, we were shown that is not the only way, our own in-house rebel with a cause Nonkululeko schooled us with 198 Non-Violent ways to make our voices heard, even though we came up with a few effective scenarios, from her I learnt sometime not striking can be striking and mass action can be effective without you actually doing anything , your platforms are the key to effective messaging and for a dinosaur like me its important to move with the times and available platform.

Some of the connections I made were with Esethu Sotheni and Ayabonga Kompi two outspoken young men who on the long bus ride home unpacked how eye opening, enticing and generally how much we as young people still need to do to get where we all hope we can take South Africa, “ for me the tools that stood out the most were the “Making Local Government Work” activists hand book and the effective planning washline because what makes most of our project fail is lack of follow through , planning and not knowing which offices in local governments are responsible for what and this helped sharpen my pledge of making it my mission to ensure women are safe and free and that young people in my peer groups are “resilient”  stated  Ayabonga, a passionate attorney.

Throughout the whole week we were kept on our toes by our Captain Shakes, with his complicated icebreakers designed to make you loosen up or just look goofy so all of us can crack up, he also taught us tenacity and that sometimes you are not tired just a little bored and that it takes innovation to keep the idea or dream alive.

When Brian said those words, “ kuzoba Lit…”, he revolutionised a song played in every taxi every res and every local radio station without actually knowing he was doing it, he connected that song to them, making it hard not to think of the pledges we took, to work as hard as we can for the causes we stand for, now every time that song plays be it in a taxi to work or from work, a tavern or just a car driving by we know we have promises to keep to ourselves, to each other and our nation. With every tool they bestowed on us from the I AM Collage,  5 principals of Dialogue and the Making Local Government work handbook we hold the cards to making the change that we dream of, together using each others LEMON strengths and weaknesses we can make small change in each of our communities by combining our efforts and our views.

“With how connected the network is, I cannot even say I don’t know ‘how to’ anymore, the training definitely sharpened my spears of using radio, drama and any other form of art to promote literacy to under privileged children in my community and my pledge is to literally not rest and use every tool I got here to make sure I make an impact, a change in my community.” Esethu was quite awed at how much could still be done he echoed that, “ kusezoba lit guys, asikabiphi bafethu”.

So how can I deny that we are connected? How then can we say we are alone?

Because, from day 1 of the training we were forming connections, inspiring each other to do more, provoking each others thought processes and influencing each others ways of thinking. Through understanding and doing things, we were the 27 that chose to not just show up but lit it all up by embracing the different crazies and views, I took tools to sharpen young women in my community and improve my planning skills. I met men who felt the same need I have to not just protect women but empower them with socio-economic tools to better their environments and communities.

We are not alone and we have been activated and it wont just be lit, we will set it all ablaze.