Every once in a while someone comes along into your life that forces you to examine your own, examine the way you relate to other people, the way you pay it forward, the way you appreciate every little thing that comes your way. Unathi is one of those people. She started as a volunteer in 2009 at the Makhaza branch and very quickly integrated herself into every little inch of everything we do, a walking embodiment of all the values we as Ikamvanites hold in our hearts and try live by every day.
So quickly did she become part of the branch and as the head of two programs, we never thought of the possibility of ever losing her to the corportate world!
Unathi and Torie
“My name is Unathi Smile, joined Ikamva Youth in 2009 as a volunteer. The main subjects I tutored were Maths, Accounting, Business Economics and Economics. I started tutoring the younger grades especially the grade 10s. I matriculated in 2006 from Harry Gwala Secondary; in 2010 I graduated in ND: Management at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. In 2012 I graduated in Btech: Quality from the same institution. In between studying, I maintained volunteering at Ikamva and I tutored the older grades. In 2011 I tutored intensely which resulted in me becoming a coach in a computer program called Khan Academy. This did not end there I became the director of the Khan Academy program.
Capitec Bank hosted Competency Tests during the March school holidays to help IkamvaYouth develop a benchmark for which we can compare results, which I also took part in. In a matter of 3 weeks I received a phone call from the bank for an interview. Right after the interview I waited for full two weeks and heard the news I have wanted to hear, I had passed the interview!
The experience I have gained from working with the kids and the knowledge I have gained from studying for 5 years made me the leader I am today.”
So today is Unathi’s first day at her new job! And while we are very sad at Makhaza not to have her around everyday, this is the whole reason why we do what we do – people paying it forward in their lives, pulling themselves and each other out of povery. Unathi we know you will be a HUGE success at Capitec, and they will love you as much as we do!
Chilling with the boys
I had the good fortune of being in America at the time of President Obama’s inauguration. It was a time of high hopes and intense optimism. During my travels I came across a quote from Obama’s Harvard Law School professor Christopher Edley Jr. that made a significant impression on me.
“So the first generation comes through, and they say great, you get your law degree and you go out and you be a troublemaker in the black community. Second wave comes through, and aha, now I’ve got opportunities in business. Third wave comes through, and maybe we’ve gotten to the point where we can get somewhere with mainstream politics, not protest politics.”
The quote is obviously related to the Civil Rights Movement, which began to win freedoms for America’s minority black community in the 1960s, but it seemed to me to offer hopeful parallels for South Africa where there is much noise about a leadership crisis. Many despair that we won’t ever again know leaders of the calibre of Nelson Mandela (who did indeed get his law degree and start causing trouble) and Archbishop Tutu. All around me I hear people asking with urgency, “Where will our leaders come from?”
As I reflect on this quote, it seems clear to me that these icons, and many others like them, were South Africa’s first wave of activist leaders who won freedom in the 1990’s. They opened the doors of opportunity for the second wave, many of whom have rushed to the feeding trough that business and politics are perceived to be. It is understandable that some are discouraged that the children of yesterday’s activists are today’s tenderpreneurs and Mercedes-driving politicians, but there is another generation who is coming up behind them.
These are young people who have used the opportunities afforded them to get good education first and foremost. Secondly, like President Obama, they are choosing to use their education to assist others. They are considering public service and other avenues where they can make a difference.
In this regard, I wonder if we are not 30 years behind the United States and will only truly see this third wave emerge in full force when they are midcareer, about 25 years from now. I know that this third wave is gathering momentum because I work alongside these young 20 year olds every day at the Tertiary School in Business Administration (TSiBA). Many lament the quality of education in South Africa, but when I go to inter-university events, it is strikingly clear that the demographic profile of university students has changed dramatically.
In an attempt to share the optimism that I gleaned from my travels in the States, I initiated a book called The Search for Tomorrow’s Leaders and set out to interview others who, like my colleagues and I, are hard at work developing tomorrow’s high profile leaders. I wanted to challenge the belief that there is a leadership crisis by profiling the third wave that is emerging. I wanted to learn what others who work in leadership development know because I am convinced that South Africa is rich in many kinds of positive leadership, at all levels in our society.
Indeed, iconic and positive leadership has been one of the gifts that our country has offered to the world. As a nation we know something about the journeys that lead to significant leadership and what it takes to develop this.
My team and I interviewed university Vice-Chancellors and high school principals, politicians and business people, activists and social entrepreneurs. Some were well-known names like Jonathan Jansen and Ferial Hafajee. Most were ordinary South Africans who have committed themselves to nurturing our country’s next generation.
Although we set out to interview “thought leaders”, we quickly started to think of our interviewees as “thought and action leaders” for indeed this was one of our most fascinating findings. We were surprised to learn that even the most well-established leaders did not think of themselves as leaders. Or, if they did, it was a recent and still somewhat uncomfortable change in their sense of identity. None of the people that we interviewed set out to be leaders. Instead, they repeatedly described seeing a need and rising to the challenge.
We came to realise that perhaps a more accurate description of leadership is people who are willing to take action to address the challenges that they see around them. You don’t need to be a politician to be a leader, and this is the point that Mamphela Ramphele’s Citizen’s Movement for Social Change is trying to make. We need to stop thinking of ourselves as subjects who are at the behest of our “leaders” and start becoming active citizens.
Our book is filled with examples of South Africans who are doing just that. They may not think of themselves as leaders but they are, and once we began looking for them we were amazed to find how many reasons there are for hope. Indeed everyone who works in the field of leadership development describes how hopeful they are.
Perspectives: The Search for Tomorrow’s Leaders seeks to put paid to the despair that I sense when people talk about “leadership” and “youth”. It may be that we are feeling the full effects of the second wave in South Africa, but behind them another wave is gathering momentum. These educated and ethical leaders, who are deeply committed to our country, are slowly entering the mainstream.
Get your copy of Perspectives at the Book Lounge in Roeland Street, and read interview about IkamvaYouth which is featured in the book on the DGMT site.
Five International interns are at IkamvaYouth centres (Ebony Park and Ivory Park) in Gauteng for the next six weeks. Four of the interns are from India and one is from The Czech Republic and they have already begun to actively interact with the Ikamvanites in Gauteng. The Ikamvanites are excited to learn about the interns’ different cultures and it became evident after the Saturday tutoring session that the learners all wanted to be around our new visitors.
The interns are currently involved in helping to organise Winter School, cataloguing books in the library, tutoring and mentoring the learners.
IY partnered with an organisation called AIESEC which made the arrival and participation of these interns possible. AIESEC is the world’s largest youth-run led organisation. It is focused on providing a platform for youth leadership development. AIESEC offers young people the opportunity to participate in international internships, experience and participate in a global learning programme.
Our new interns are moving around with the motto, “Each one – teach one,” and they believe that this is a good platform for them to empower youths in South Africa.
Click the image to watch:
As preparation for their June exams, Nyanganites had a week of mock exams from the 29th of May to the 2nd of June. The atmosphere was serious and business-like as the learners wrote the first subjects on their school time-tables, under strict exam conditions. One of the tutors, Lunga Sizani, commented, ‘we tutor the learners to prepare them for exams, therefore it is a good idea for them to practise in the week before they start writing at school’.
Our dedicated tutors marked the papers in a period of two days and revised the question papers and memorandum with the learners. This was a great platform for our learners to know which sections of their work they find difficult and for the tutors to assist in those particular areas. Zimbini Mputa, one of the Gr 11 students had this to say: ‘I think the mock exam was very good for us because when I wrote my Maths exam at school, I was better prepared’.
Nyanga looks forward to sterling mid-year results from all our learners.