14 December 2018

South Africa: News24's 'Young Mandelas of the Future' Continue Their Good Work Across Cities, Borders

In celebration of what would have been former president Nelson Mandela's 100th birthday, News24 honoured the day, July 18, by highlighting the outstanding work of young South Africans in communities through initiatives that represent the values that the anti-apartheid icon stood for.

The 100 young Mandela's of the future initiative encouraged these individuals to continue with their good work in shaping and changing lives in their communities and the globe alike through initiatives of leadership, compassion and creativity. Their plans are to make their projects sustainable in order to continue their good work and to reach even more people.

News24 caught up with some of the young Mandelas to find out what they've been up to since being featured on the list in July.

Sarina Mpharalala

"In 2019, I'm shaking things up," confirms Mpharalala. This after having shaken things up for the better part of 2018.

Mpharalala was recently awarded the Vice-Chancellor's Student Leader of the Year award by Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng.

"Prof Phakeng even called me a 'force of nature'," recalls Mpharalala, who says it is such motivation that keeps her desire burning to continue doing what she does.

Mpharalala launched Vhafumakadzi Takuwani in April this year. It is a non-profit company that works to empower women to rise in leadership and entrepreneurship. She has combined all her passions: student leadership, entrepreneurship, empowerment and social impact to create her company.

When she went to Australia for the International Scholar Laureate Programme, she went as a student leader, but the trip required all her passions.

"In 2018, I re-introduced myself. In 2019, I am shaking things up," she says.

She will be joining Professor Phakeng for a trip to Dublin, Ireland, next year and will use the opportunity to help realise her vision of starting her full-year courses for women on entrepreneurship, leadership and the basics of starting a business.

Lindokuhle Kubeka

Foundations have to remain sustainable. They need to become social powerhouses. This is according to 24-year-old Kubeka. The Brakpan-born man started the Lindokuhle Foundation in 2015.

Kubeka, together with his team of five, established ex-convict support groups and holds regular talks to encourage the inmates.

"Young convicts are on the rise in communities," he says. "The foundation calls on ex-convicts to speak to the youth to make them realise that there can be no life of crime. What's more, allowing ex-convicts to speak to them is looking at the bigger picture of reintegrating them back into the community. Everyone deserves a second chance."

And with the recent rise in violence against teachers by students, Kubeka's foundation embarked on a clean-up campaign at schools in collaboration with the SAPS (South African Police Service) to rid as many schools as possible in Ratanda, where he is currently based, of dangerous weapons.

Even before being listed among the young Mandela's of the future, Kubeka's foundation was, in 2017, shortlisted in the 2017 Young Community Shapers competition.

"We need to be sustainable as foundations. We need to look to as many ways as possible to help and make sure that we are creating a good future for the youth - of which I form part of."

Kubeka plans to continue reaching out to as many causes as he possibly can. He reveals that in 2019 he will be looking to the agriculture sector.

"It's time for the youth to start cultivating their own land for them to be able to make a living; a sustainable one."

Olwethu Mxoli

When Mxoli's friend, Bryan Walter asked her to join him at a session with the Helenvale Poets in Port Elizabeth to listen to children recite the poetry they had written, little did she know that she would keep going back over and over again until she became part of the initiative.

This wasn't ordinary poetry. These weren't ordinary children, she says. These were children who wrote poetry based on the hardships they encounter in their lives. Mxoli says she believes she got attached because writing offers more to people with difficult lives.

"Children avoid tackling their experiences; so words offer them a safe space," the 23-year-old from New Brighton says.

"It gives them an opportunity to explore their creativity, have fun but also reflect and at the same time be able to see the positive aspects about their lives through their own writing."

The group comprises of children between the ages of nine and 17 with a few adults in the mix as well. Their work has been published in the books Growing tears and dreams and Two way street .

"We're now looking forward to going to the McGregor Poetry Festival next year. We're looking to raise funds for that. The children take pride in their work and having their books published and you see that when they show their parents, shouting, 'Mom, look, my name is in print,'" she says with a laugh.

Kgotso Lekau

"I tell people that I'm 19 years old and they cannot believe it," says the Gugulethu teen. Lekau, of New Generation International, organises outreach programmes for schools, hospitals, youth centres and shelters.

About three years ago, Lekau overcame his battle with cancer and has been using his second chance at life to conduct outreach programmes which are specific to each organisation he affiliates with - including schools, hospitals and youth centres. His initiative runs in South Africa, Ghana, Cameroon and Zimbabwe.

He is particularly passionate about his school and youth centre initiatives. The former is about mentorship and the latter about getting young people into an environment where they can rise above their current circumstances.

"It's about overcoming adversity and for them to [reach] the greatest version of themselves."

New Generation International has had an impact on the lives of more than 70 000 people in the countries it operates in, he says. The goal is to build and create a new Africa, with leaders who are thriving and showcasing the gems and global change that the continent gives to the world at large.

"When I was battling with cancer, I wasn't ready to give in and my initiative is about telling [others] that they shouldn't give in as well, be it circumstance or otherwise, and they have a helping hand in New Generation International."

Lekau has also been chosen as part of a South African delegation to the UN Youth Assembly.

"I know that this opportunity to attend this event will help me achieve my dream of shaping South Africa and Africa in shifting how education is delivered and how it can align in creating new employment, etc."

OTHER NOTABLE YOUNG MANDELA'S OF THE FUTURE

Eight young leaders, from across the African continent will form part of the inaugural African Union Youth Advisory Council. Among those selected during the prestigious appointments is South Africa's very own Shakira Choonara.

Choonara will fly the South African flag, being the only representative from the country. The group will drive discussion and advocate on youth development issues central to the work of young people in the AU. They will also support the AU youth envoy Aya Chebbi.

"I know what it is like to come from nothing with just a vision and determination, and that is the drive that has brought me here today, the post is all about giving back to the youth on this continent."

Source: News24

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