43 years post the Soweto Uprising, the fight for equality in education and the voices of young people to be heard is still upon us.
Although the fight might be inclusive of 280 characters on twitter or a hashtag on Instagram, the biggest battle like in 1976 is a mental one and Amonge Sinxoto is doing all she can to realize that.
“Zingisa, my co-founder and I were really tired of not being able to express or feel represented. We were really frustrated with the way we were portrayed in the media and television and realized we were not the ones actually telling our stories,” says Sinxoto.
“Our very first discussion was the African narrative and rewriting it. What that actually entails, the whole point is not just to write stories or be a creative or writer but being the vision of Africa that we want to see portrayed in an industry on the continent.”
The platform co-foundered by Sinxoto is focussed on building the youth through leadership and mentorship by bringing trailblazers of different industries in for discussions about navigating the spaces they have been successful in.
With South Africa having one of the largest youth population, the focus is intended to create a new range of progressive leaders with recent focus being on creative industries due to it being a neglected space on the continent.
“I just know how much I’ve grown and really gone leaps and bounds because of people who have dedicated time and space to seeing me grow so I just wanted to make sure a lot of the youth that come to our events and engage in our platform have the chance to have the same opportunities.”
In just 3 years the young social entrepreneur has had the opportunity of speaking at worldly events such as the Global Citizen forum regarding “Who run the world? Girls!”, a roundtable with former USA first lady Michelle Obama, TedxLyttelton ‘From social media to social impact’, and a Google and Facebook Child Safety summit in Dublin just to name a few.
Although her brand and impact of Blackboard she emphasises that many of the opportunities were through application, which is something a lot of young people might not realize or have access to.
“For example for Black Girls Rock I didn’t have money to pay for that so we got sponsorship, we approached people and one women ran a marathon to fund for me to go.”
“I am grateful and take different things from all of them. Global First Ladies Alliance there weren’t a lot of young people and made me realize there are so many programs happening across the globe, you just need to reach out.”
Her intention is always to share the knowledge or experiences she has at these platforms with young people that don’t necessarily have the opportunity.
Talking to Sinxoto I have to continuously remind myself she is only 18, although having achieved so much and being wise beyond her years.
We discuss the idea of fear and how it is one factor that often challenges our generation in pursuing their dreams and simply living.
“I encountered a lot of that when I was telling my family even when I was just applying for passports. Travelling alone and standing the fear around facing the world on my own but it really opened my eyes that there are a lot of young people doing it!”
“I want the youth to know that they are safe and that given the opportunity they can go, grow and implement.”
Having started Blackboard on Instagram to share the narrative, she has learnt the power of social media when used intentionally especially with reaching an international crowd.
Her biggest struggle was managing her own personal Instagram especially in a time of ‘clout chasing’.
“It is hard because you’re a young person and a small part of you will post something you like and still be conscious of likes and followers but I really try not to, I try to be passionate about most of the things I post.”
“Obviously not everything because sometimes you just post something because you like it but most time I try to only post things I am really passionate about that way I don’t really care if everybody is liking or reposting it because it is something that I want to put out there out of my own initiative.”
Although she may have an exciting life of having met Michelle Obama, being mentored by influential women like Terry Pheto and Nomzamo Mbatha she enjoys being at home, watching Netflix and listening to old school music like Lauren Hill and Erykah Badu.
“I think I’m like such a home body. I love being home with food and friends in an intimate environment. Also having these platforms have not detoured me but made me aware of the space I am in to an extent.”
“There are certain things I don’t engage in because of the message I am putting out which has helped put me on a straight path I think.”
The game changer is currently studying a BA towards Social Science, majoring in International Relations and Political Studies. Having completed her High School at an all-girls school she jokes about having to adapt to a co-ed environment in university life.
“I’m just like ahhh why are they in my space?”
“I didn’t appreciate being at an all-girls school until I wasn’t anymore.”
Time management has been her greatest lesson, trying to manage Blackboard and school at the same time.
Her interest in Philosophy and English was to work on her writing skills while her long term goal is to build Blackboard to a level where she can work full time on it, inspiring and empowering young creatives.
She also has dreams of working in organizations like the UN or UNICEF, although storytelling is her greatest passion.
With a huge social media following, amazing style and a gorgeous face you would think she had aspirations of being an actress or in front of the camera in some form.
“I hate it, I’m not completely shy but I wouldn’t want the pressure in knowing this is what I have to do. Being in front of the camera the way I am now I interact as a personality so I’m not expected to be a model or presenter and I like not having expectations.”
Her advice to young people during this month is:
“Start something, I think a lot of the time young people have so many great ideas, there are so many solutions to the world’s problems but they don’t figure out how to get it off the ground. What I have taken from my experience is that you must start where you are and rather learn along the way instead of accumulating all this knowledge and not putting it to use.”
“Stop thinking of your potential as something you will achieve at 40. It is something you can start achieving now.”