5 Minutes With Tumelo

What’s your passion?
More than anything, I’m passionate about being. About taking in moments and experiencing everything you bump into, even those instances that are thrown at you. And as it may, being and loving are intertwined. You need to be doing what you love to really be living. The two have a way of bringing fore your own light so that it may shine into others. In a letter to Hume in 1958, Hunter S. Thompson wrote:
“Let’s assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all pre-defined paths, of course). And let’s assume that you can’t see any real purpose in any of the eight. THEN — and here is the essence of all I’ve said — you MUST FIND A NINTH PATH... But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life… So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.”

What change are you keen to drive?
I’d like to see young people grow confident in who they are and knowledgeable in where they come from. The identity crisis in Africa has cost us much more than our Ubuntu, it has cost us our economy, our spirituality, our being. Our young roam wild, in search of belonging, in search of acknowledgement in a world which has taught them to be everything but themselves. They are consumers of everything but what is produced at home, lovers of everyone but their own kind, trapped in a system that takes away and gives nothing back. I’d like to see my people, young Africans, loving who they are, where they belong in the circle if life. I’d like to see them support local business, creating their own income, and teaching others to do the same. I’d like to, in my own way, help bring Africa home, as so many before me have begun.

How are you driving change?
I’m starting with a love of literature. It is my belief that once one is willing and able to read, then nothing will ever stand in their path of truth. Secrets are hidden in text, and the more Africans we get reading, the better, for they themselves will discover the truth about everything that they did not know before, and thus in knowing better shall they do better. By setting up literature programmes which are informal and recreational we strive to create a passion for reading among young people. Not only will this make learning easier for them, but it will also boost their confidence and encourage them to become active participants in issues that affect them in their communities.

How has ACTIVATE! supported you so far in driving this change?
I’ve come across many, many Activators who had access to resources that I didn’t, and through them I have continually been able to advance my work and also find like minded and driven people to work with on my team. The publications on literature by the DG Murray Trust posted on the website have also gone a long way in assisting me in grounding the work that I do, which was scattered for a long time. The publications revealed to me areas of need in the education sector and through that I was able to carve out a niche.

What do you think is the priority in setting the agenda for our country in the next 5 years?
I believe social cohesion is key at this point in time. We need to come together as a people, in the real sense. Not just as friends on Facebook or colleagues at work. We need to start creating platforms where we can break through barriers of race, class, and sex in our country because this is a major drawback for transformation. For us to go anywhere as a nation, we need to reach common ground, and common ground takes sacrifice, not just from those who were previously in positions of power, but from all of us. A victim will see himself as such for as long as it is beneficial to do so. We need leaders who are going to take us forward and not divide us further. We need spaces that allow that we move out of positions of disadvantage and take advantage of opportunity. We need to stop being so afraid of change.

How do you motivate yourself?
I read. I read anything and everything I can get my hands on, no magazines though – I have a bad tenancy of buying magazines and never reading them. I read to have an open mind. A lot of what I read I don’t agree with, but it widens my view on life. I also tend to move around a lot. I don’t settle, as Steve Jobs would say. And this allows me to see different sides of each coin and walk on different landscapes of this land. Meeting new people and listening to their stories keeps me grounded. There are just those people that make you realize just how small you are, just how insignificant you are, and that drives you to do more, to be more of your self. I’m not a fan of praise singers, they tend to nurse ones ego and make one feel that they are better than others. I, like Jimi Hendrix, don’t really live on compliments. “As a matter of fact, they have a way of distracting me,” he said.

Final comment?
Dr Seuss, my all time favourite artist, said “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” And I think it was Will Smith who said “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” Too many of us are stuck in the “norm”, too few of us dare to reinvent the future. We need to live, too many of us are merely surviving.

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