This article first appeared on the Play Your Part website
On the 15th of October 2014 South African youth celebrated Global Dignity Day. This day is aimed at learning and understanding the importance of dignity and how to help others lead a dignified life. On this day thousands of volunteers all over the world instilled a new, positive, inclusive and interconnected sense of value in young people that will guide them as they grow into adulthood.
What is Global Dignity?
“Dignity is the source of human rights,” This was a key realisation for Vuyo Jack, one of the founders of the Global Dignity Club, who was selected as one of the Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum in 2009. He was intrigued by the Global Day initiative which was co-founded by a group of Young Global Leaders, Prince Haakon, the crown Prince of Norway, John Hope Bryant and Prof Pekka Himanen. The initiative was inspired by Prince Haakon’s visit to South Africa in the early days of democracy, where he experienced the importance of dignity in people’s lives. “We wanted to build on this inspiration by extending Global Dignity Day celebrations to many people through a summit in 2010 which was attended by young professionals from and around South Africa”, says Jack.
This journey took them around the country covering the nine provinces with a goal of engaging learners from different backgrounds. This compelled them to conceptualise a more sustainable programme for learners where they could engage and take action on matters relating to dignity in their environment proactively on a daily basis. This is how the Global Dignity Club programme was established in January 2013.
Brand South Africa then joined forces with the Global Dignity movement through the Play Your Part programme. The campaign is aimed at preparing students for their journey towards cultivating the ability to empathise with others and to instil in them the recognition that every life has equal value.
The focus is on accelerating the execution of the National Development Plan (NDP) by taking a community-centric approach to the socio-economic, academic and entrepreneurial development of learners.
The South African Dignity campaign has since reached more than 15 000 school learners in nine provinces across the country. The message of dignity is centred on education, financial literacy and the values of Ubuntu. Ubuntu is largely understood as an expression of kindness to the vulnerable other. It’s phenomenon that has less to do with social vulnerability but more about social assertiveness. The concept speaks to the ability of one to claim what is rightfully theirs in relation to the other.
The Umtata Christian School
The Umtata Christian School in the Eastern Cape came up with the idea to start a soup kitchen, a drama club and Career Expo’s as part of their contribution to Global Dignity Day on a budget of R2000 last year when the campaign was launched.
The soup kitchen is aimed at feeding the homeless people in the area as a way to restore dignity; the drama club is set to empower learners of the school with performing arts skills while simultaneously spreading the message of dignity. With the careers expo, the club adopted three schools in the rural area of Tsolo on the outskirts of Umtata, with the intention to guide underprivileged learners in career choices and self-introspection that goes in choosing a career.
As part of Global Dignity Day celebrations, the learners of Umtata Christian School applied their minds to an integrated programme, performing a play, reflecting on the year by showing videos of the community work they had embarked on throughout the year, such as donating old clothes to the unfortunate and painting a day care centre. They also created a space for participation from the audience by allowing speakers to talk to what dignity means in various spaces, such a spiritual environment and how dignity applies to relationships, as a way to propagate the gospel of dignity to members of their community and the learners.
Play Your Part
These smaller community initiatives are entirely developed by learners of the Club and executed with help from their mentors and teachers. This lays the foundation early on in their education and the value of active citizenship. They are taught to inspire new ways to make a fundamental change in their respective communities. By such activities which are made appealing to youngsters, they are able to display initiative and leadership abilities, which will be key to realising the development goals outlined in the NDP and Vision 2030.
In partnership with the Global Dignity Club, Brand South Africa handed out certificates to all the learners of the Club, as a way to encourage them to continue playing their part in their communities and grow to be active citizens of the country. After all, today’s youth will make up the workforce of 2030, so their input and involvement is crucial.
This article first appeared on Playyourpart.co.za
Power team Rea Ngwane (22) and Thato Kgatlhanye (21) together have developed and successfully launched a community driven business in Rustenburg situated in the North West province after almost four years in the making.
These young, vibrant entrepreneurs hail from the small town of Mogwase and have, with diverse mindsets and innovation, a company called Rethaka Trading (Pty) Ltd. Under which Repurpose Schoolbags was developed. Both have grown up together and attended primary and high-school side-by-side, which was the start of a long and productive friendship.
The idea of Rethaka came to the minds of these young entrepreneurs years ago. This idea became a reality last year when Kgatlhanye entered a competition run by SAB. The task: to create an organic product which was a mimic of nature? She created a bag which mimicked a bird’s nest. Her design placed her third in the competition and won her R300 000 of working capital, to start her own business and get it off the ground.
The Ngwane is a BCom student who had always dreamed of becoming a chartered accountant. She attends the University of Johannesburg studying towards her Marketing Management degree. Ngwane describes herself as a forward-thinker, someone who always has a curiosity about the “other”, the “what else” – simply an architect of social eminence.
Ngwane and Kgatlhanye set up Rethaka, a company that aims to combine business with social good. Rethaka’s first business venture was an environmentally-friendly innovation called Repurpose Schoolbags. Rethaka (Pty) Ltd is a for-profit, woman-owned business, based in Rustenburg, South Africa.
These ladies chief division is their Repurpose Schoolbags innovation. These are bags which are in essence designed to do more with less. Targeted at children from underprivileged communities where electricity is a privilege for the few, The bags are made of 100% repurposed plastic textile and have imbedded in them solar panels which charge during the child’s walk to school, later transforming into a solar lantern useful for them to use as light for studying for up to 12 hours.
The bags are made from plastic which is found at landfills schools and households. The duo has also set up “plastic-purpose textile banks” which are bins they have erected outside schools and churches to collect dumped plastic. This plastic then goes through an intensive process of cleaning, debranding and ironing before it is creatively sewed into a stylish design by the team of seven full-time employees at their warehouse in Tlhabane, Rustenburg.
As the operational & financial Manager, Ngwane’s role is to cost effectively and efficiently facilitate the process from material purchase to manufacturing, final product and inventory control. Ngwane says she is playing her part in ensuring that her social entrepreneurship provides impactful solutions for those who need them the most.
Kgatlhanye who also refers to herself as the “Struggling billionaire” is a young South African who believes in second chances. She used this to not only fuel her career as an author, of a book she and her co-author wrote in 27 days called “Start an empire with a brand”, but also as a young entrepreneur who saw an opportunity for school kids who needed a second chance at their education.
As the Brand & Marketing Manager of Rethaka, Kgatlhanye ensures that she effectively communicates the companies green innovations and how they redefine societal problems into solutions. She believes she belongs to a new generation of leaders placing themselves as change agents. She has worked in New York with marketing guru Seth Godin during a New York internship and is a recent graduate of a BA in Brand Management from Vega, The School of Brand Leadership. Kgatlhanye was also selected to be one of 18 South African social entrepreneurs to attend the 10 day Red Bull Amaphiko Academy in 2013.
The duo sees their company going further in the coming years and plan on developing another subsidiary luxury brand called Purpo which will be a range of fashion bags for woman and corporates which will reiterate the message of being green and being fashionable. Along with this they design corporate bags which are specifically designed for laptops, IPads and notebooks. 10% of sales of these bags go to the manufacturing of schoolbags.
The one thing Kgatlhanye says she wants to see change in the country is South African youth dreaming audaciously and the issue of funding for education being eradicated Ngwane says she dreams of the day when we as people fail to see the difference in others, we fail to see race as a defining factor of a person. Until that day comes these women say they will continue uncovering opportunities.
“If we see an opportunity in cutting cheese, we will cut cheese.”
“The single most determining factor of an adolescent’s success in the future is based on whether they read for pleasure,” words uttered by Tebogo Ditshego, Founder of @ReadaBookSA on twitter, which has close to 30,000 followers, and CEO of public relations agency Ditshego Media.
After melodies strung from the strings of the guitar and the African beats echoed throughout the hall at the University of Johannesburg’s Arts and Culture Centre, Ditshego indulged the crowd with an impromptu Hip-Hop rap accompanied by a band on stage which got the crowd up off their seats and clapping to the melody.
Following his short performance Ditshego welcomed business leaders, authors and celebrities to the launch of the second annual National Book Week Forum, to discuss how books have assisted them to progress in their careers as well as how we can spread a culture of reading books in South Africa.
This forum is to encourage all members of South Africa to read, read for enjoyment, read for education, read for entertainment, but read nonetheless.
The South African Reading Foundation (SARF) in partnership with OR Tambo International Airport, Brand SA and the University of Johannesburg has made this possible.
This year’s theme for National Book Week South Africa is “going places” which conveyed to audiences in attendance that reading books enables one to expand their knowledge and capabilities in their careers and socially.
The sub-theme of the forum is Intellectual Swag which means it’s cool to be intelligent. This concept poses as a counter for negative stereotypes associated with reading books and has proven to increase the appeal of the activity amongst youth.
CEO of Shanduka Group Ms Phuti Mahanyele said a mere 14% of South Africans read, to the stunned crowd this seemed unrealistic, however it is the daunting truth she further said. Mahanyele went onto encourage people to read as a way of defining yourself and expanding knowledge. She said, “We must never undermine who we are, we never entirely know who we are but it is important to open ourselves up to knowledge and furthering our thought processes.”
The heart and purpose of the forum was brought to life when Unathi Batyashe-Fillis, OR Tambo International Airport Brand and Communications Manager, told the story of her daughter’s learning disability. She says, “As long as a child is reading – whether it be for fun or for school, they are still reading” and that is the most important factor she says parents need to in still in their children.
Brand SA Acting Director of Stakeholder Relations Mpumi Mabuza enlightened the crowd of the link between reading a book and playing your part. She says reading is one of the many ways people can help in taking South Africa forward. The culture of reading is a key component in active citizenship which is also one of the foundational layers of Brand South Africa’s initiative Play Your Part.
Mabuza challenged people sitting in the gallery to play their part by going out and visiting their local book store or library and reading, to start their own book club amongst their friends and family and make reading books a fun activity, challenge yourself to watch less TV and spend less time on social media and read, encourage others to read and tell Play Your Part what you are reading.
COO Airports Company South Africa Tebogo Mekgoe held the motif throughout his speech that one should read literature which offers a counter argument to your own personal views. He said it is important to read as broadly as possible because it’s the building blocks to widening your perspective on the world. Mekgoe said: “Real life is not as simply as science, there is no right or wrong answer, people can have very different views on the same thing but none of them is wrong.”
Mekgoe reiterated that knowledge is not measured by the number of degrees you have, it is measured by what you do with the knowledge you gained from reading, what change you create in the spaces around you, “Your richness comes from that,” he added.
Audiences were well aware of the role reading books plays in nation building and the importance of reading as well as what it means to be a reading nation. “Read for enjoyment” seemed to be the tagline of the forum. Ditshego said: “Reading should not be an activity you do to pass an exam, it should be because you are hungry for knowledge, you are reading to know the story, you are reading because you enjoy it.”
In the words of former president Nelson Mandela: “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination but when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”
This article was first published on playyourpart.co.za
The third annual Ubuntu Sessions was held at the Nelson Mandela Foundation on Thursday 28th August 2014 where men and women were invited to discuss the Colours of a woman – The Changing Roles of Women 20 Years into Democracy.
The aim of the event was to evoke productive discussion around he several roles women for fill in society today compared to two decades before. Of the guests who attended the Ubuntu Sessions were some key speakers.
Mapaseka Mokwele – manages to balance being a mother, news presenter; wife and business woman, all while sharing insights into topics such as relationships, health, sexuality and home life. She is a seasoned radio host and now an award winning radio presenter. She says the colours of a woman is what makes a woman who she is, therefore it should be embraced that much more.
Batya Raff – A designer, Problem Solver and Creative Librarian. Director of Moad Beta which focuses on bringing South Africans together to solve South African problems. The space is also a platform to showcase Makers, as the work produced in this space is then exhibited within Moad.
She says, “I want to make sure that creative’s are using their abilities to find solutions that are relevant, sustainable, and of course beautiful. I love my city, my country, my continent and I am privileged to be in a position where I see true innovation all around me.”
Mbuyiselo Botha – Was active in the anti-apartheid struggle as a leader in South African Civics Movement, especially in his home community of Sharpeville. Mbuyiselo co-hosts weekly talk shows on many commercial and community radio stations, reaching millions of listeners each week. He is also a regular contributing columnist in many of South Africa’s leading newspapers.
He is the proud father of three children, one boy and two girls and a grandfather to three boys. He says, “Women must be sympathetic to patriarchy because men today are victims to what happened yesterday”.
Catherine Constantinides – LEAD SA Executive, Archbishop Tutu African Oxford Fellow, Executive Director of Miss Earth in SA. She focuses much energy and time on youth and women development, leadership and skill transfer. Last month she was included in the South African, Mail and Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans list.
Constantinides questioned women and they part they playing by asking, “We have very progressive gender acts in SA but where is the will behind this?”
Kaya FM gave a vote of thanks before people exited the auditorium and indulged in further discussion over wine.
Click here to view the full Storify of the event.
This article was first published on Playyourpart.com on 8 August 2014
Women’s rights are human rights; these powerful words were uttered and echoed by South African leaders at the Sowetan Dialogues in Bloemfontein, which discussed women’s roles, rights and progress in a democratic South Africa.
Nompi Zim (19), originally from the Free State province, established a dairy farm in 2014 and currently supplies major multinational Nestlé.
Zim’s inspiring story was highlighted at the Sowetan Dialogues at the Bloemfontein City Hall in the Free State.
The dialogue, one in a series that continues throughout the year, commemorated Women’s Month. The dialogues are a joint initiative run by Brand South Africa with the Sowetan newspaper. They allow for South African communities to come together to discuss issues facing them, and those outlined in the National Development Plan, with the country’s leading thinkers.
The dialogues aim to encourage community members to play their part in driving the social, developmental and economic change of their communities through active citizenship.
Panellists at the dialogue included: the Honourable Sisi Mabe – Speaker of the Free State Legislature; Mbuyiselo Botha from Sonke Gender Justice; Kenosi Machepa from the Ministry of Women; and Zim.
In line with the Bloemfontein dialogue’s theme – The Role of Women in Nation Building 20 years after Democracy – Zim described her career path, and what it took to become a female dairy farm owner at just 19.
She was born in the Eastern Free State at Khayalam Farm and attended Majweng farm school. She completed her Grade 12 at Sekgutlong High School in Qwaqwa before enrolling at an agricultural college in 2014.
In 2014 she used her savings to buy ten dairy cows and has since purchased another 15 cows. Subsequently she was honoured as the Best Dairy Producer of the Year in the Eastern Free State and has been nominated for the award again this year.
Zim encouraged the women in the audience to improve their lives, saying: “Ladies our time is NOW – start your own businesses and let’s nation build; you won’t achieve anything by waiting for hand-outs – I’m a 19 year old female entrepreneur who supplies Nestlé.”
As the dialogue continued, each speaker made important points about gender and the role of women, and men, in South Africa’s democracy.
Botha believes that men have a duty to support the leadership roles of women.
Botha said: “Men have somewhat lost their places in the world because of the rise in power of women in this century, but, on the same token men don’t need to just be ATMs for women – our support needs to advance.”
He asked that men support women to build families, and to support women physically, emotionally and spiritually to build a successful nation.
Machepa agreed and added that there needs to be a change in government policy: “For policies to uplift women, they must be women- and gender-friendly in order to eradicate the stereotypes which hinder women in the workplace.”
She added: “These dialogues help us speak up and cement what is rightfully ours and women should not aim to be like men. The challenge is that women want to lead like men but our femininity helped build the men of this nation.”
Mabe said, “The role of women in a country has no boundaries. It is not defined by colour, class or religion.” She said women still felt voiceless in South Africa’s patriarchal society, which could be attributed to cultural practices enforced to ostracise women who progressed.
When the discussion turned towards men and traditional practices in a world of courageous women, the audience was animated, responding to Mabe saying, “We need to sympathise with men who are led by women when they have been raised to believe otherwise; we need to allow our men to cry and not see it as weak – women empowerment works both ways.”
She added: “We are like a puzzle; a puzzle has several pieces which make it a complete picture – we should bring people together by listening and analysing which will help combat the challenge of professional jealousy in the workplace.”
Machepa emphasised to the audience that “women’s rights are human rights” and that women and men must fight together to protect these rights. She said women should guard against their rights being eroded.
The dialogue end on a positive note, reiterating that “when you empower a woman, you empower a nation and everyone wins”.