What would the future you look back and thank you for? What contributions are you making now?
(Nathi) The amount of smiles I’ve managed to bring out in people. It may not carry exterior significance but it’s the glue to unity.
(Trinity) I often wish that I’ll be able to look back and appreciate the way I utilised my platform and my voice to articulately communicate my opinions on prominent matters and spark change within my community. If I can emulate the power and poise of some of the great revolutionaries that came before me, I will be immensely grateful that I was able to evoke a sense of empowerment within my people. I want to be a voice for the people that society deems voiceless. I’m currently the owner of Black Vibe Tribe that is a lifestyle brand aiming to connect, love, uplift, and build with people deriving from the African diaspora. In addition, I’m also the founder of The Youth Will Be All Write, an organisation that donates composition notebooks to institutionalised and incarcerated Black youth in juvenile detention centers. I strive to bring awareness and help the youth find their voices in a system that intends for them to be silenced.
(Paemo) My team and I are building our database of women’s rights activist groups to one day have them share face on the Uber for women’s Safety app, Masidi. Intended to launch in 2020
(Peterson) Well I have made certain contributions to my community such as initiating initiatives which provide our underprivileged black children with sanitary products and also tutor them in terms of their studies and giving a hand in helping better uplift and build the community. I have only reached out to my community because currently it is what I’m capable of but as I furthermore grow, so will my reach to other parts of the country and the continent.
(Hope) I am using the FILM & TELEVISION industry and my youth and weight activism to be the voice of the voiceless, to create films that hit home real stories that South African filmmakers are afraid to tell.
(Faith) One of the first adult things I’ve had to do is look for employment. But I always feel relieved when I can talk through things like job applications with my parents. I think it reminds me that I’m still a kid, and that I have a lot to learn from role models like them.
(Ntsako) I believe that I have tried my best to leave a mark in whatever space that I have found myself in be it public speaking, blogging or hosting panel discussions. This has inspired me to value my opinion and to be unapologetically proud of my blackness and heritage.
(Rumbi) Hopefully, my future self thanks me for coming to the realisation (quite early) that I have a voice/ platform and that I have a duty to use it. As well as coming to the realisation of who I am and what my strengths are and then going above this, and using those to better the world around me. However, above this, I believe that the major contributions that I’m making so far are actively working to build a better Africa, using my personal influence to educate and inspire people to get involved in social justice issues, and actively making a conscious choice to educate myself, so I can hopefully educate others. Although, it is important to note that there is still so much more that I want to do and plan on doing to further my contributions, not just to and in Africa, but in the world as well.
(Konke) Future me would look back and thank me for the hard work I’ve put into attaining a future for myself and potentially for others. Future me would thank me for being an inspiration for others, for defying expectations and being authentic to myself through the whole journey. I’m currently not making any contributions right now, unfortunately.
If you had to compile an activist playlist what songs/artists would you include (3+)?
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Gil Scott-Heron
Crack Concrete – Trinity Simone
UMI says – Mos Def
Redemption Song – Bob Marley & The Wailers
Black Moses – Meek Mill, Pusha T, and Priscilla Renea
A Change is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke
Bloodline – Georgia Ku
Strange Fruit – Nina Simone
Get Up, Stand Up- Bob Marley & Peter Tosh
(Paemo) A lot of Kanye West but mainly off his College Dropout project and Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Beyoncé as a voice who has shaped the lives and many black people, men, women and those identify further. Mary J Blige because she gets me up and going but still bumping to her soulful RnB. Then finally the late HHP as he definitely set the tone for mainstream struggle to success, stating it was never an easy journey but a worthy one.
Lauryn Hill – In Zion
Adele – A Million Years Ago
Sjava – Impilo
Freedom is coming tomorrow
Land of the Free (Joey Bada$$)
Story of OJ (Jay Z)
(Rumbi) It would mainly include a focus on Black LGBTQIA+ artists, as I feel as though they’re a hugely underrepresented group within the music sphere. So my top artist picks are: Syd, Tyler The Creator and Aurora Lloyd.
Anything Meek Mill
Beyonce and Kendrick’s song Freedom
Common and John Legend – Glory
Kanye – Can’t tell me nothing
How can young people be encouraged to discuss and dismantle stigmas around mental health?
(Amara) Young people are open to discuss many things when the host of the conversation is run by someone who looks like them. Dismantling stigmas can be done when people have broken barriers related to overcoming mental illnesses or going against the grain of society to be healthy mentally. Youth discussions led by youth can change the face of several stigmas, including mental health and leave with a plan of action to make a difference.
(Amu) I think that to dismantle the stigmas around mental health we need to change the way that we speak about people with mental health issues. When we discuss mental health it’s often portrayed as a conscious decision by that person to be anxious or depressed rather than recognising that many of these things of the product of biological and social pressures that everyone is susceptible too. I think if we open up conversations around the prevalence of mental health issues and empower the youth to name the things that they’re feeling, they’ll recognise that mental health is so integral to their everyday lives.
(Siya) We can encourage and dismantle stigmas around mental health by having empowerment programmes where we create a safe space for people suffering from mental issues to speak up and teach others in order for them to be more aware that what they’re going through is normal but at the same time must be taken into consideration and not joke about it when someone is affected with it. We could also teach people to stop saying” it’s unlike him/her” because there is nothing that is like someone (don’t know if I’m making sense). We need to have more sympathy for them and make sure we regularly check up on them. We need to have more conversations about this issue so that it can be normalised as much as much as possible. By being there for these people we could also make donations every now and then so that they are able to go to Therapists. By having more people taking care of one another, we can change the world for the better.
(Khensi) I believe that if young people were given safe spaces from a young age, to be able to share their vulnerabilities with peers/ family; as well as encouraged to share themselves openly without being judged or judging others, perhaps it would eradicate the norm that “crying makes you weak” or stigmas of the such.
Social media? Good, bad or both?
(Anya) While there are extreme cons to it, social media has provided a platform for so many people, and with young people becoming the driving force in many social and political initiatives today, the media allows for progressive voices to be heard. Campaigns like the #MeTooMovement and the #BlackLivesMatterMovement were skyrocketed by the social media engagement formed by young people and received immense attention from the higher ups in government. Social media has allowed for young people to not only spread positivity but awareness, as well as inspire the masses with their creativity. Young people are also making a living from their motivational videos, start-up online campaigns, and growing a positive reputation. Social media allows for anyone to be their own entrepreneur, and that is such an amazing resource of this generation; a generation of game changers and chance takers.
(Amara) I believe social media is good and bad. Social media has been crucial to my success and how I build my business. I have been able to connect with amazing activists, entrepreneurs, and authors all around the world because of Instagram and LinkedIn. This is only because I use it with intent to share my story of graduating from high school and college at 16, delivering a TEDx Talk and authoring The Strategic Mind of A Young Legend, and being an entrepreneur at 18.
(Amu) Like all things, social media has its positives and negatives. I feel that the good far outweighs the bad. Social media launched Arab Spring, #BlackLivesMatter, #FeesMustFall and countless other movements that have empowered the youth and made change seem far more possible than we’d previously imagined. Alternatively, social media can also be a dark place where, for example, white supremacists find a community that supports and feeds their hatred to the point that they feel they are able to walk into a mosque and kill people who are peacefully worshiping. People’s views of social media will be dependent on the content that they engage with and so you have to make an active decision to engage with fulfilling and enriching content but I cannot dispute that greater efforts should be made to regulate the dark side of the internet that gives birth to terrorists all over the world.
(Siya) Social Media is good and bad at the same time. Whats good about Social Media, it allows us to connect with people and businesses around the world, it is much more convenient when it comes to sending and receiving important notifications. Social media increases customers and the marketing of businesses. Through social media we get notified on what is happening in and around us. What’s bad about social media is that it has become a place where people tend to procrastinate on and rely on public opinion for their happiness. Social media has destroyed the self – esteem of others and has made a negative impact on human beings mentally where it leads to anxiety and depression, having huge expectations etc. People become secluded and anti social when it comes to social gatherings. Social media is bad because that is where people get scammed easily and it has become a huge problem nowadays. Social media is bad because it can also lead to someone committing suicide due to cyber bullying. Social Media is bad because it is very addictive, you find that people are on their phones for more than 2 hours instead of doing something productive and efficient with their lives. Social media has turned out to be a place where we try to please other people, some are strangers and not prioritising your own well being and happiness.
(Khensi) I would say a bit of both. It depends on the individual’s focus. Sometimes when one is in a low vibration e.g depressed, they tend to draw in what they feel which only worsens the scenario. However if one is in high vibration e.g. joyful, they would draw in their current mode of being which is beneficial.
What’s your idea of a role model?
(Amara) My idea of a role model is someone who is not afraid to be vulnerable with their mentees. They are also willing to share steps to make a difference without trying to sell their products too. A role model realises the power in mentoring, educating, and empowering others, especially youth. Every day I get messages from my website AYoungLegend.com to my social media channels asking for help on making a difference, and I respond without hesitation. It breaks my heart when they express their surprise that I responded. Lastly, a role model is a teacher and student willing to speak and learn from the next generation of game changers.
(Amu) My idea of a role model is constantly changing. Michelle Obama is one of my role models because of her drive, intelligence and compassion but Rihanna is also my role model for her unabashed embrace of her sensuality and rebellion against restrictive ideas about black femininity. I don’t think you need to have one set role model and different people will be different role models for different parts of yourself. However, I do believe that a role model is someone that inspires you to show up as your best and most honest self, no matter the circumstance.
(Siya) A role model to me is someone that you look up to. It is someone who is living up your ideal self and constantly raising the bar despite the challenges and silent cries in between. It is someone that influences your life in a positive way. A role model is an ethical leader.
(Khensi) One who embodies traits that I aspire to have one day. The one who is relentless in their endeavours, despite hardships faced they endure and persevere through love, power and sober mind until accomplishment.
Information on participants
- Sibongakonke Kubheka, 19, BSc Maths of Finance, University of Witswatersrand, South Africa.
- Khensani Khoza, 19, Perfomance Arts Student at New York Film Academy; Media Personality & Philanthropist, South Africa
- Siyamthanda Hobongwana, 15, student at Victoria Girls High School, South Africa
- Amukelani Mnisi, 19, BSocSci in Sociology and Politics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa
- Ntsako Molala, 18, LLB, University of Cape Town, Founder of the What Is Ntsako Saying Blog, South Africa
- Faith Florez, 19, Bachelor of Arts in English, University of Southern California, Founder of The Latina Legacy Foundation, Creator of the Calor App, United States.
- Rumbidzai Vambe, 18, Bachelor of Social Science LLB, University of Cape Town. Passionate youth social justice activist, South Africa
- Tsepiso Rakhosi Pitse, 20, University of Witwatersrand, Bachelor of Commerce in Finance, Investment and Management, South Africa
- Paemo Malindi Nyembe, 19, Environmental Engineering Student, Witwatersrand University
- Trinity Simone, 16, CEO and Owner of Black Vibe Tribe, Founder of The Youth Will Be All Write, United States of America
- Malesed Hope Shabangu, 19, Film & Television at City Varsity, An International commissioner for GirlGuides SA and a member of SISTERS WORKING IN FILM & TELEVISION (SWIFT), South Africa
- Amara Leggett, 18, Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Saint Leo University, President & Owner, A Young Legend, United States of America.
- Nkosinathi Ngcobo, 20, Bachelor of Accounting Sciences, University of Witwatersrand
- Anya Dillard, 16, Advanced Honors Institute for Humanities at West Orange Highschool, CEO of The Next Gen Come Up, New Jersey, United States of America
- Amonge Sinxoto, 18, Bachelor of Social Sciences in International Relations and Politics, University of Witwatersrand, Founder Blackboard Africa, South Africa
- Peterson Vuyisile Radasi, 18, Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics and International Relations, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, Rotary Youth Empowerment Group