CELEBRATING DIVERSITY IN BALI

In August 2014, Marishane travelled to Indonesia as one of a hundred youth leaders from around the world who gathered at the 6th Global Forum United Nations Alliance of Civilisation in Bali from the 28 – 30 August to unpack the 2014 theme ‘Unity in Diversity – Celebrating Diversity for Common and Shared Values’.

Prior to the event, youth delegates were asked to submit their expectations from the forum for inclusion in the conference booklet which would serve as guidelines for discussion at the main forum. Marishane contributed the following question statement to the forum.  

Being born into a generation that, on the one hand, is faced with the most complex and daunting challenges that mankind has ever known, how do we transform oppressed people into a conscious history-making force, to make them grapple with the making of an anti-thesis which they inherited from the oppressor?

How do we quench a culture of powerlessness in a people previously excluded? How do we create leaders or, better still, pioneers, out of a class which seems so consumed by an excruciating hunger for assimilation?

I thus wish to propose that the forum may innovate tangible solutions addressing issues of migration permits (VISA), land reform, 21st BC leadership identity and cross-cultural identity within the context of globalisation.”

On his return from the event, Marishane says that the Forum was an amazing opportunity to gain exposure to international thoughts and perceptions on issues affecting his reality as a global youth.

“Not only was I able to showcase my work internationally, but I was immensely privileged to get the opportunity to interrogate world leaders at that level,” he says.

As part of the Forum structure, delegates were divided into groups, each with a different purpose to fulfil during the event and, further to participating in the conference, Marishane was chosen to head up a committee of Narrators – journal compilers who wrote stories about the forum for the feedback book – leading 10 people reporting directly to the UN Editor-In-Chief.

After recording the discussions and talks held over the three days, Marishane pulled the following comments which stood out for him the most during the event.

We need to listen to learn and understand about each other (culture, tradition, religion) to understand more about ourselves as the human race before judging ourselves thus causing material and immaterial damage” – Dr. Kamar Oniah Kamaruzaman- Associate Professor in Comparative Religion at the International Islamic University of Malaysia.

I’ve accepted my status as a global citizen because for as long as I embrace freedom and liberty, these rights and privileges are inter-connected to so many others around the world. It’s a sign that we all need each other”- Dr. Bhupendra Kumar Modi (Among the richest persons in Asia).

We need to tackle the issue of ‘unity in diversity’ from a holistic approach. For the fact that my livelihood depends on others, is prove that I need to connect (unite) with the world of diversity. We need to infuse strong educational curriculums relevant to the needs of the present world”- Prof. Candido Mendes- Rector of University of Candido Mendes.

People make countries, not the other way round”- Prof. Dr. Salim Said- Indonesian Ambassador to Czech Republic.

From a South African perspective, Marishane says that there were many lessons to be drawn from the Forum.  

“Indonesia does not compromise,” he says. “98% of the artists that performed in all settings were from Indonesia. Only during the youth dinner were other participants given the chance to showcase their materials.”

Further points that stood out for Marishane during the discussion forums around the role of youth in promoting Unity in Diversity and youth development included:  

  • Literature & outdoors: Good readers are good leaders and good leaders are well travelled. Be exposed to the world. Exposure, you either get it via travelling or reading. If you’re not exposed, don’t attempt to lead.
  • Global trailblazers: Within the context of globalisation, there’s no limits to what we can achieve. We’ve become known for our great innovations making us, the youth, the smartest generation the world has ever known.
  • Action Expresses Priority: Talking does not cook rice (Chinese proverb): Beyond talking, we (the youth) need to act.
  • Global Identity: For a peaceful future, we need to make this a world where gender doesn’t count, where race doesn’t count and where sexual preference doesn’t count.
  • Think Ahead-think globalisation: Allow yourself the eye of the imagination not to see your present circumstance as your destiny, but the possibility of what your future could hold.
  • Pro-Active Citizenship: The cost of inaction is now bigger than the cost of action.
  • Driving Change: We (the youth) are the first ever generation to be teaching our parents.

During the conference, Marishane also formed a working partnership with Harvard University, Oxford University and Western Sidney University for a period of two years or more, dependent on performance, to work on ICT digital projects in the scope of youth development.

In conclusion, he offers the following advice to fellow Activators, “Decide NOW if you want to be the Master of Change or the Victim of Change, because with globalisation, change is happening.”

Koketso Marishane is a consultant for the Es’kia Mphahlele Heritage Foundation, a researcher at the National Digital Repository of South Africa, Sponsorship Officer for the Limpopo ICT Forum, Stakeholder Advisory for the Limpopo Arts and Culture Association, co-founder of the Limpopo Reads Foundation and a member of the ACTIVATE! network. He was chosen as one of Mail & Guardian’s top 200 South Africans this year. 

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