“I’ve been involved in many of these kinds of programmes, and this one has given me a hope that we still have young people who aspire to change the world, who aspire to make the difference at their own individual level, but also as a collective.” – Ayanda Mpono, November 2021
As aptly voiced by Amava’s very own poet, “…this world is very vulnerable; we are also vulnerable. With the ups and downs in the world, the mindset of people is very distorted right now and it’s difficult to think of the future. But if we are able to gather ourselves, to connect, to share, we are able to build something.” Over two separate weeks in October and November of 2021, a group of eight Cape Town youths virtually came together with like-minded peers from Germany to engage in a workshop that would do just that.
For our South African team, the first workshop took place in a dynamic eco-village in Pinelands while the second was on a secluded farm in the Cape Winelands. It was in these settings where young minds could share perspectives from different worlds, or, as YoUbuntu participant, Sandile, described “exchanging and cross-pollinating ideas”.
Two of our YoUbuntu participants, Sandile and Elona, learning together during this year’s youth exchange.
The YoUbuntu youth exchange encompassed an array of activities such as hiking, team-building exercises, and even an excursion to an organic farm that specialises in herbal medicines. However, the most important element of the programme was to create a safe space where the participants could openly engage in dialogue regarding relevant topics and issues.
Among the pivotal themes of this year’s YoUbuntu project were SDG 8, success, and decent jobs in an unequal society. Like some, you may not be familiar with Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. All United Nations Member States have set out to achieve 17 goals in an effort to eradicate poverty and inequities while improving health and education. SDG 8 promotes economic growth that is sustainable and provides decent jobs for all. Conversations revolved around access to decent jobs in a society that is as unequal as South Africa, and how to improve those circumstances in under-resourced communities to bring about social justice.
This year’s participants set out to interview community members and how they define “success”. In this photo, Tapiwa and Nathan are interviewing the designer of MasaMara, a clothing brand influenced by African culture.
The discussions organically evolved to incorporate success and how people measure it to their level of education. Do you define success by your credentials, your businesses, your wealth? Or does your association with success align with being happy and content? The concept of education became another important question in itself, where opinions were shared about formal and informal education. Do we only learn in schools and lectures, or can we gain knowledge through people from all walks of life?
Of course, during the two weeks, the participants learnt and deliberated about these topics, but the time away from home life gave everyone a chance to reflect on themselves and the people they are surrounded with. An unfortunate recurrent theme was self-doubt, a reality that many South African youths are becoming increasingly familiar with today. However, it was repeatedly revealed that the work done during this programme allowed participants to understand themselves to see their worth, and the worth they can contribute to their communities. Elona shared that he is “breaking that ice in [him], to become visible and present in the space.”
The 2021 YoUbuntu facilitators and participants in the Cape Winelands during the second half of the youth exchange.
It was two weeks of passion sharing, and a gathering of youths with a variety of backgrounds, languages, opinions, and ambitions. Yet, despite the wealth of differences, this group has clear harmonies of being strong, innovative, and inspiring.
If you want to support this project and help us keep it going in the future, please consider a donation.
This project is part of the German-South African partnership with Starkmacher, a German NGO that collaborates with Amava Oluntu in the field of skills sharing and youth engagement.