Improving and preserving languages

By Bongo Hlongwane 

This past weekend, young people in 5 provinces inspected heritage as a significant part of who they truly are. They did this by delving into the importance of literacy and by indulging in each others cultures and traditional songs.

The event was held at Intuzuma F library convened by the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Network, in cooperation with Ubuciko Bomlomo Infotainment, Langeni College, Lindelani Youth Forum, Ntuzuma library, Gugu Dlamini foundation, and Africa Unite.

Activator Malusi Mahlaba from Lindelani Youth Forum gave Sanele Hadebe (Activator and facilitator) the platform to welcome the attendees. He started with the traditional song “wemama kanomthandazo awukhulule unomthandazo.”

The objective of the event was to reinforce culture and encourage young people to preserve their languages. The attendees examined the imperatives of reading and writing with Mr Luthuli, a lecturer at Elangeni College. He quoted Marcus Garvey, “Use every spare time in reading,” asserting that if a person has time to waste, it is advisable to put it in reading. He emphasised that reading gives a person the privilege of living in a world of intelligence. He conveyed that readers are leaders and that readers rule the world whereas ignorance carries the burden. He advised the audience that they should not skip a word without understanding it’s meaning “consult the dictionary,” he said. He added that reading is a stride to thinking and that books are the best companion to success.

Furthermore Lindokuhle Ngcobo stressed that “Culture is a set of values, beliefs and morals that are inherited by the young ones and passed down from elders,” building from that Malusi Mazibuko insisted that culture should be engraved within people’s daily activities, “My culture is my DNA, before I become a Zulu, I am an African,” he added. The songs that were sung set the tone of the day, the poem recited by Syabonga Mthethwa in collaboration with Ofentse Masibi evolve the spirit of togetherness “there is an African child undertaken by poverty”, they recited the poem, “somewhere in South of Africa there is a burning man, he runs accused of stealing a man’s’ wife, a job and a future.”

There was an array of traditional attire and paintings from local artist, Ntuzuma

Lokishi Comrade Martin who co-operated with Malusi to convene the event said it was very challenging to mobilise. He said youth is busy during weekdays, he said the event was utterly impeccable and thanked the network for the support including 23 Activators who contributed to the event.

Aloma Malgas – Rea Thusa

Rea Thusa

Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape

Aloma Malgas


Rea Thusa is an NPO operating in a community where substance abuse, crime and a lack of infrastructure leave youth vulnerable and without direction. The organisation seeks to address this problem by providing youth with educational support, hope and guidance through campaigns, fun fares and various community events. It is the hope that by providing youth with resources and support, their minds will be unlocked to realise their dreams and make a change in their community.


Quote a Poet

By Bongo Hlongwane

More than 50 artists attended Quote a Poet Chapter 4 event which was held at Denis Hurley centre in Durban.

UBI (Ubuciko Bomlomo Infortainment) is a youth initiative which was established in 2012 by Ntuzuma youth. Their objectives include promoting social talents, hosting youth dialogues on sensitive issues affecting the youth sector. Activator Lokishi Comrade Martin alleged that UBI is all about touching and changing people’s life through art. He said Quote a poet is all about poetry, artist are obligated to quote their favourite poets before there recite

Usonkondlo Senzo Shampie set the tone at the event, when he recited his poem “We never born hating. We are never born with knowledge of any racial, religious, culture or any other sort of discrimination. My own people your own land, your right, your voice to make decisions.”

Building from that Mazwi Shazi performed “Asikhulume, uthi oxwayisayo qaphelani laba abathembisa ukuphatha kahle izinhliziyo zenu, anozibuza phela nani ukuthi loko bakufunda kanjani, nakulezo zinhliziyo kwenzakalani, ”  (let’s talk, the advisor says be conscious of those who promises to nurture your hearts, ask yourselves what happened to the one they were practising with” this poem challenged the audience to be introspective.

Young woman Sim China Zungu recited her poem, “I shouted out loud, i shouted out loud, till the voice left me (ngamemeza ngamexa kuze kube uphimbo uyangshiya), i can hear your footsteps (ezakho izingi ngisazizwa), there is a man who took my virginity when i wasn’t matured” i can still hear his voice shouting in my ears.”

The artist line-up who did outstanding work on stage include, lady Africa, Sim Chana Zungu, Heavy Weight, BZ Shangase, kush Mahleka, Thando Fuze, Zanele Khoza, Kyle Allan, Zanele Khoza, Thembelihle Shezi, Miss Allene and Juvas Icamagu

The Activators who are affiliated with UBI are Slindelo Martin, Nhlanhla Mkwanazi, Mlu Zuma, Ntuthuko Dlala and Lokishi Comrade Mathini.

Lokishi asserted that women dominating the line-up was intentional. He said they stand for womens emancipation, he furthermore said women are isolated when it comes to art and Quote A Poet is fighting that stigma. He said they will host Chapter 5 in November.


Bulumko Gana – Genius at Work

Genius At Work

Gugulethu, Cape Town, Western Cape

Bulumko Gana


FB: Bulumko Stifler Gana

IG: bulumkogana

With the aim of combating youth unemployment by providing capacity building for content creation, Genius At Work introduces Photography and videography as an extramural activity to youth ages 13-18, living and attending school in the townships of Cape Town, who can later enter into the Creative industry as a career. By equipping students with digital marketing skills, they will be encouraged to take up Google and Facebook exams as a means of employability in the digital world, and gain skills that will better their lives.

Deep Roots or Beat Roots?

By Paul Mabote

Bob Marley, the reggae legend from Jamaica, once said that if you do not know where you are coming from, then you will not know where you are going to. Heritage, is defined by some as the big and little things one carries from where he comes from, and passes down to the next generation so that they may do the same. Though it carries a common meaning, heritage means different things to many of us, and one might question the relevance of some of our cultural customs in today’s ever integrating world.

Is Heritage Day a front?

On the 24th of September each year, South Africans blossom as they flaunt their beautiful rainbow colours, adorned in their colourful myriad of traditional garments while merrily enjoying  their delicious assortments of traditional dishes. For the whole day this day, Mzansi celebrates Heritage Day.

When interviewed, Activator Pgel Nilongo shared his dejection for Heritage Day. He feels one day in a year is not enough to fully embrace and celebrate who we are as a nation of different people, cultures and creeds. “There are too many other days and months that we spend too ashamed to say ‘Sawubona’ to another black person in the elevator, and when writers are too ‘modern’ to tell their stories in their mother tongue. We should not have any specified period to celebrate our heritage; instead we should live our heritage, every day.” Could it be that we have melted in so complexly, that it is as hard as ever to tell apart the different ingredients inside the pot?

Streams have become taps, amaBheshu have become Levis 501 jeans and Moropotso (platted hairstyle popular in the townships) has become long, Brazilian weaves. It only seems sensible to keep up with the times. After all, a brand new BMW is better than a horse-drawn carriage on many levels. So where do we draw the line? How far is too far behind to leave our family-trusted ways and adapt to the ways of the “New World”?

What’s Gonna Happen?

Another Activator, Moedi Mokaba, boasts about the world heritage site Maropeng: The Cradle of Human Kind being in his hometown of Mogale City. He is, however, very sceptical about some of the “superstitious rules” him and his siblings were constantly reminded of by their elders while growing up.  “Why should I not sweep the floor or fetch water at night? What is going to happen if I eat standing? And why am I prohibited from eating certain foods as a child?”  It was such questions that often got him into trouble with his grandmother, he says, who would always snarl at him: “that is the way we found things, that is the way things are, and that is how they will always be!”

So what is going to happen, really, if you carry fire outside or keep your hat on inside the house as a man? According to some African traditions, a baby is not to be in the presence of anyone other than close family, until it is 3 months old. Yet today, you visit the local clinic on a good day and you will find it teeming with mothers carrying their week-old infants. Are there any concrete reasons to explain what is going to happen if these “rules” are obeyed, or if they are ignored?

What Is Your Heritage?

I asked fellow Activators what heritage means to them and what they celebrate the most about their heritage. The answers were different; from “I celebrate the unmatched humility of our Venda people” to “I celebrate the Kofifi dance and culture that was born in our streets of Soweto.”  To Matshepo Moatshe, heritage means one’s identity in the world; who you are and what makes you who you are.

I guess I can hold on dearly to my late grandmother’s thick goggles and celebrate them as part of my heritage too. She has, after all, seen more of my life through them, than I have.

Whether it be in a family, local, cultural, national, world or even personal context, everyone has a story. The props, costumes and settings of these stories all form part of our heritage. We live in a world where cultures intertwine and integration is inevitable. How we preserve our heritage is what is most important, as it is what makes it what it is. Whether it’s a pair of goggles, an unexplained commandment or a good fable told around the fire, these small things all form part of a bigger story; the story of who you are and where you come from. The young ones today, and the future generations waiting to breathe, are all relying on our stories, their heritage, in order to understand where they are coming from and most importantly, where they are going.