Covid-19

Maverick Citizen: Youth Activism

Foundation built by ‘Uncle Kathy’ inspires youngsters to be activists

Foundation built by ‘Uncle Kathy’ inspires youngsters to be activists
Participants of the Kathrada Youth Clubs are seen here holding up copies of the training manual that will help inform their own activism. The training manual is complete with practical activities to engage on, case studies and questions that young people can begin probing one another on. (Photo: Ahmed Kathrada Foundation)

Like many civil society organisations, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation is facing financial difficulties. One of its programmes aims to catalyse leadership among young people in poor communities through a network of 100 Youth Clubs. In this feature, Maverick Citizen is publishing a series of articles by young people, for young people. They are appealing for the legacy of Ahmed Kathrada to be honoured by preserving his values and principles. 

In March 2017 I joined the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation as a curious volunteer in the youth department, a few days after the activist was laid to rest at West Park Cemetery in Johannesburg.

As a volunteer, I got to experience the foundation’s youth work first-hand, as opposed to merely attending programmes as a guest. I got to meet a calibre of young people who were part of the foundation’s Youth Leadership Programme. Impressively, some of the programme’s alumni have gone to do amazing work in different careers and leadership roles.

From those heydays as a volunteer, I was able to rise up the ranks and join the incredible team. I have been tasked with bringing to life the vision of our experienced and dynamic board. This dream was to establish the sustainable Kathrada Youth Clubs rooted in several communities to take forward the legacies of the Kathrada, Mandela, Sisulu and Mlangeni generation.

The energy in the eyes of the youngsters who are part of the Youth Clubs is one that I am confident South Africa will be proud of.

The programme is guided by the life lessons and activism well captured in the Kathrada workbook manual, Ignite Your Power. As a blueprint, youngsters get to ignite their own activism and are helped to realise their ultimate potential. We have seen young people standing up to challenge social, economic and political ills that plagued their communities. 

All that’s needed to join these clubs is diligence and a sense of commitment.

The existing cohort of young people represent different communities, each with their own problems. While the youth model was only introduced two years ago, it has already achieved substantial successes in communities such as Finetown, Thembalihle, Lenasia, Ennerdale and others in Gauteng. 

It has given hope to communities.

This year, we have had to strengthen capacity as we advance to the next phase of the youth clubs. The curriculum has had to adapt to the constraints of the Covid-19 pandemic and the social and financial implications it has brought. During the hard lockdown, we hosted several online discussions and remained in frequent contact with our participants using virtual platforms. For many, data would have been a luxury, but the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation has ensured that no one was left out when the online discussions took place.

It is no secret that our beloved country and democracy are in deep crisis with glaring fault-lines. At ransom are ordinary taxpayers, with many struggling to pick up the pieces while looters continue to shamefully steal from the coffers. We are a corruption-riddled country in need of greater examples when it comes to leadership.

We are confident in the contribution that is being made by the Foundation. In memory of Uncle Kathy, we take our hats off to you for passing the baton of activism. Your memory and exemplary ethos are our guiding light.

Amandla! DM/MC

Dawood Raphalalane is a youth coordinator at the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.

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"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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