Maverick Citizen


Thembilihle activist focuses on nurturing the neglected boy child in youth upliftment drive

Thembilihle activist focuses on nurturing the neglected boy child in youth upliftment drive
Thembilihle activist Dudu Makhubo. (Photo: Thom Pierce)

Dudu Makhubo, a dedicated mentor in Thembilihle, is on a mission to tackle toxic masculinity and empower the youth through education and community engagement, proving that even the smallest change can brighten the future of her community.

As a mentor to kids in the township of Thembilihle, Dudu Makhubo feels passionately that her energy should be focused on the young boys in her community.

“I think that society forgets about the boy child and the boy child is very important to the community. If you raise one boy right it means that you could be avoiding crime, rape, and all the other bad things that can be done by men. If you can educate a boy with the mindset that they can make a change to society then it makes a huge difference.”

Through her voluntary work as a member of the community youth club, she believes that she has a platform to deal with toxic masculinity, drugs and alcohol abuse. This, says Dudu, is achieved through education.

The youth club is basically a mentorship programme for 15 kids in the Thembilihle community. It is overseen and supported by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation. The kids are aged 15-25 and their mentors are 26-35. It is the mentors who decide how to empower the community through the younger members.

In Thembilihle, their focus is on education so they support their kids through an after-school Maths and Science programme, encouraging them to attend the free classes and assisting them when they need help. They also take the kids to a variety of community events and show them how they can play a more active role in the community.

“Whatever it is that we do it is about empowering their minds and changing the narrative that if you are from an informal settlement you cannot be educated.”

Activism has always been in Dudu’s family. Her mother has been a very active member of the community since the youth movements of 1976, opening up her house as the meeting point for PAC meetings during the liberation struggle. She later became a vocal opponent to several attempts to forcibly remove people from Thembilihle.

“We want to see a change in the community, our parents have done what they could but it’s up to us whether we continue from where they stopped or leave things as they are. As the youth we have the power to make things happen.”

It seems that many young people in South Africa feel so disenfranchised that it renders them powerless to even conceive of being part of a positive change in the country. Even at such a young age Dudu already recognises that through education, even the smallest change that she can make in another person’s life can have the power to brighten their future and that of the community around them. DM

Read more in Daily Maverick: The Actionists

The Actionists was launched in early 2023 by photographer Thom Pierce. It consists of on-the-ground problem solvers, community activists, climate campaigners and human rights defenders who engage in direct action. They are people anyone can turn to in difficult circumstances: a growing community of people who care about the future of South Africa. Through a series of photographic stories, Pierce profiles these people. Through a website, discussion forum and social media, the aim is to provide ways for people to get involved.

Nominate Actionists in your circle at or email [email protected]

This story is one of a series of articles produced by The Actionists to highlight the incredible work of organisations and activists across South Africa in their pursuit of justice and equal rights for all.

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R35.


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