It is inspiring to see young people use youth or school clubs as spaces where they brainstorm solutions to an issue and then take action. During an episode of our Instagram Series, Youth Activism Corner Instagram Live, Dimpho Lekgeu from Youthlab and I had a conversation with Lesego Kobuwe from Engage South Africa and Duduzile Makhubo from Kathrada Youth about their experiences and insights concerning clubs as channels of youth activism. Both Lesego and Duduzile started their activism journey when they were young, watching members of their families take part in community development initiatives. This exposure to activism led them to be part of youth & school clubs. Based on their experiences, Dimpho and I asked them a couple of questions:
What were some of the challenges you faced when you started out?
Lesego and Duduzile stressed that one of the prevalent challenges young activists in youth and school clubs face is not being taken seriously. Where the reaction to their assertions is “oh you young so what do you know”. Similar to not being taken seriously, Duduzile shared that the action she has taken in her youth club has been misunderstood. She explains that members of the community “mix activism with politics” and yet activism “has nothing to do with politics”. This then leads to young people in youth clubs needing to constantly clarify their activism. An additional challenge is convincing young people, who are outside of the youth club, that a particular issue the club is advocating for is not more important than other issues. Convincing young people who need to find a job instead of joining a club is another hurdle that Duduzile highlighted.
In spite of the challenges, Lesego and Duduzile ran several campaigns with other young people in the youth & school club.
Can you tell us about a campaign you ran and what lessons did you learn?
When Lesego was at university, she and other young people in her club ran a campaign about women leadership. The campaign looked at challenging women who were not being seen as leaders. They wore t-shirts that confronted stereotypical perceptions of women. Although it was a challenging campaign in terms of addressing an uncomfortable subject, Lesego learnt that the issue of women leadership affects different people.
Duduzile’s experience of campaigning is linked to the various campaigns run by Kathrada Youth Clubs, but the one campaign that is the “closest to her heart” is the free-to-flow campaign, which aimed to provide young girls with sanitary towels. She explained that the campaign involved giving sanitary towels to young girls, who could not go to school when on their period. The youth club, through the campaign, became a “platform [the young girls] can talk about the things they find uncomfortable“.
School clubs can be explained as dynamic and influential safe spaces for young people. They provide a platform for young people to fully and effectively deal with an issue.Lesego Kobuwe
Lesego, Duduzile and other young people run campaigns while being confronted by the staggering youth unemployment rate. When up against such a gloomy reality, people may feel demotivated. So we asked them….
In light of the high youth unemployment stats, why is important for young people to play an active role?
Duduzile noted that it is still important for young people to play an active role because “at the end of the day we are the future. [If young people do not do anything] who is going to do the hard work”. In the same spirit, Lesego echoed the need for young people to still come up with solutions because “by continuing to doing the work you are taking a stand” and consequently making your voice heard.
To hear more Lesego and Duduzile’s views, watch the Live below.