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Culture, Reality



From politics, to economics, the environment and youth empowerment – there are hundreds of young community activists in South Africa who are finding something to believe in and making an active difference in their communities. We’ve picked just a tiny handful of gung-ho revolutionaries from this beautiful pile to celebrate…

1. Xolani Hlongwa, Green Camp (pictured above)

Xolani Hlongwa is the founder of Green Camp; a pioneering independent urban renewal project in Umbilo, Durban. In 2013 Xolani spent weeks walking the streets in search of the perfect space to implement his dream of combining art and urban renewal to drive the green revolution in downtown Durban. He eventually found an old dilapidated house (about to be abolished and turned into a parking lot) and he instantly knew that it was the perfect space.

Despite innumerable challenges, Xolani secured a lease for the building and in two years he has transform the neglected space into an outdoor gallery, urban farming and recycling project.


“We use the art language to teach people about environments, about the beauty of organic systems,” explains Xolani from his humble oasis. “People need to know that we can turn anything into gold. People pass by and see trash, dirt, a place to urinate. But look, I have turned ruins into life and it’s green and organic. We recycle, rehabilitate and stimulate. I cleaned the whole place, planted sweet potatoes, spinach, butternut and have held a few exhibitions/events already. I will be adding infrastructure, inviting more people to take part, building my ‘green-print’ and will eventually start more Greencamps around the country.”

More here: www.facebook.com/pages/ID-Green-Camp-Gallery-Project

2. Bandile Mdlalose, Abahlali baseMjondolo

26-year-old Bandile Mdlalose is the Secretary general of Abahlali baseMjondolo. Founded by S’bu Zikhode in 2005, Abahlali baseMjondolo, or “The Shack Dwellers Movement” is pretty much one of the most revolutionary movements of our generation. Known for campaigning against forced evictions and fighting for public housing and better living conditions for the poor, this people’s-movement works toward the politics of truth, freedom and democracy from the bottom up. Bandile is known to argue that “the price of silence is higher than the price of struggle” and despite countless acts of intimidation from ANC members, police brutality and numerous assassinations of Abahlali members, The Shack Dwellers Movement remains zoba strong!

More here: abahlali.org and watch Dear Mandela, the award winning documentary film which highlights the forced evictions and Abahlali’s resistance.

3. Sechaba “The Baker’s Man”, Soweto Skate Society

Sechaba was 14 years old when he started skating. He’s now 24, still ripping and inspiring other kids in his community to do the same. Sechaba is the brainchild of the Soweto Skate Society (SSS); an NGO that aims to teach youngsters from the kasi life skills through skating. The SSS work in various youth-based projects that not only seek to turn skating into a sirius sport in Soweto but also to bring positive change to young people’s lives. His goal is to revolutionise skating in SA and according to Sechaba, “revolutions happen on half-pipes…”

More here: www.facebook.com/pages/Skate-Society-Soweto/494824230575949

4. Tasmi Quazi, Asiye eTafuleni

Tasmi Quazi is a research officer at Asiye eTafuleni (AeT) and manager of one of its award-winning projects – the Durban Inner-City Cardboard Recycling Project. AeT is a non-profit organisation focused on promoting and developing good practice and process around inclusive urban planning and design with informal workers such as street traders, waste pickers and anyone making a living from public spaces. Quazi is a master’s graduate of Development Studies and is committed to social service. “The inclusion of these street entrepreneurs is not just important to ensure socio-economic justice of a historically marginalised economic group, but also to celebrate their contributions to the cultural and urban fabric of our cities…” says Tasmi. We dig this Durban sister.

More here: aet.org.za


5. Kgotsi Chikane, Inkulufreeheid

Kgotsi Chikane began his involvement in the youth-driven NPO InkuluFreeHeid in 2013. InkuluFreeHeid aims to unite all South Africans, particularly the youth, behind non-partisan efforts that help solve major economic challenges, deepen democracy and enhance social cohesion. Kgotsi got involved in IFH because of his belief that the organisation can be used as a vehicle for all young people to deepen democracy in South Africa. (Who said the Y Generation was apathetic and apolitical!?). The 24-year-old is now President of IFH and an active advocate for socio-economic equality within South Africa. He believes he can influence this country and continent through the use of radically pragmatic economic policies. Yoh…

More here: www.inkulufreeheid.org & www.facebook.com/Inkulufreeheid?ref=br_rs

6. Sizwe Nzima, Iyeza Express

22-year-old Sizwe Nzima is the founder of Iyeza Express – basically a philanthropist-on-wheels service. With the aim of giving everyone access to medication, the business collects chronic medication from public health facilities and delivers it by bicycle to the doorsteps of sick. Iyeza Express operates from two major clinics in Khayelitsha which can see up to 7 000 people collecting chronic medicine per day. If you’re too sick to even get out of bed, that’s a pretty long queue to be waiting in. Together with four other young men from Sizwe’s community (we imagine seriously fit young men) on bikes, Sizwe collects and delivers medicine twice a month, for just 10 bucks. This inspiring young brother kinda puts those “Think Bike” bumper stickers to shame!

More here: www.facebook.com/pages/Iyeza-Express/185847594918736

7. Candice Sehoma, Building Blocks Foundation

At just 22 years old, Candice Sehoma, is the founder of the Building Blocks Foundation; an organisation that was started in her community in Alexandra township, Jo’burg. At age 19, Candice realised that they couldn’t wait for the government to supply proper toilets in her community, so she went from door to door and organised a meeting where, together with the input from her community, she proposed solutions to the existing bucket toilet system. Today Building Blocks actively involves the residents of Alexandra in the building and maintenance of flushing toilets, and also runs community workshops to raise awareness on sanitation and environmental cleanliness – restoring a sense of dignity in her community. They also paint the coolest designs on their potties!

Check them out: www.facebook.com/pages/Building-Blocks/327295667389664

8. Katleho Madikeng, Sisonke Entertainment

At just 18 years old, Katlego is already a community leader and founder of Sisonke Entertainment. When Katlego was 15, he decided that he didn’t like the destructive paths his peers at school were taking toward drug and alcohol abuse. So he started getting youngsters in his community together on the weekends to engage in extra school lessons and community activities like soccer and board games. Every Saturday about 40 youth meet at Katleho’s school in Qwa Qwa, Free State. Not only do they do fun group activities but the club has also become a neutral space where young people talk about the issues they are facing in their community and actively seek solutions.

More here: youtu.be/McdPM1nCGV8

9. Thami Malope, Playing Our Part

Thami Malope is the chairperson and one of the three co-founders of  the Playing Our Part Foundation (POP). POP collects food and medical parcels for HIV orphans throughout South Africa. This Non-Governmental Organisation is headed by three passionate young South Africans and throughout the course of 2013 they managed to feed 400 Orphans. Talk about playing a part… these cats took on the lead roles.

More here: www.facebook.com/popfoundationSA/timeline

 10. Apish Tshetsha, Waves For Change

Apish is the head of coaching and co-founder of the Waves for Change programme based in Muizenberg, Cape Town. Apish grew up in Masiphumelele township and learnt how to swim and surf for the first time eight years ago with Waves for Change founder Tim Conibear. Waves for Change is an HIV, Life-skills and Leadership programme rooted in surfing and today has an award winning curriculum used to stabilise young people who have been negatively affected by unstable community environments. Apish was one of the programme’s first coaches and today runs his own surf school in Muizenberg. They say salt water heals all… those coastal hippies must have been onto something.

More info: www.waves-for-change.org

*Images © Sourced

** Green Camp images © Samora Chapman

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