Meet Didi Morake: How her passion and creativity is decreasing youth unemployment in South Africa

didi morake

This is the last part of “Inside Global Citizen”, a limited series. We pull back the curtain and highlight members of Global Citizen staff who are key parts of the organization’s advocacy, impact, and more. Be part of our community of outstanding women by joining today.

Didi Morake had a lucrative career in the corporate banking industry. After completing her Masters in Strategic Marketing from the Wits Business School, Didi landed a position working as the Customer Value Proposition Designer for Youth at ABSA Bank.

 

Didi’s position at ABSA allowed her to pursue her passion for helping the youth. However, when she heard about Global Citizen, she saw a whole new world of possibilities for making a difference.

 

Resonating deeply with the organization’s goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030, Didi took the leap and left the corporate world. Didi Morake now works as the Senior Manager for Strategic Partnerships where she spearheads the Global Citizen Fellowship Program powered by BeyGOOD.

 

Morake believes that she is now doing the work she was always meant to do.

 

“Growing up, I always thought I was going to be a doctor. I was always that one friend that was there for others – to pick them up when they fell. I thought being a pediatrician was befitting to me and my personality. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that it wasn’t about the title, it was about the purpose – which I had at heart – helping young people.”
Didi Morake

On Creating Sustainable Programs to Tackle Unemployment

 

Unemployment in South Africa is staggeringly high, especially among young people. According to Trading Economics, South Africa’s unemployment rate rose to 30.1% in the first quarter of 2020 from 29.1% in the previous period. It was the highest jobless rate on record since quarterly data became available in 2008.

 

Whilst this might seem like a crippling challenge to some, Didi and her team are doing something about it. “Young people are the future, and with the right access to skills and training opportunities, everyone can achieve their full potential. This is exactly why the Global Citizen Fellowship powered by BeyGOOD exists,” says Morake. 

By working together through the fellowship program, the partnership offers young people an opportunity of a lifetime. Designed to empower young people with work experience, the program is not only supporting the vision of a South Africa that nurtures its youth.

 

The Global Citizen Fellowship is also equipping young people with the skills they need to play a role in social justice, helping their communities achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and amplifying causes that they believe in.

 

Take how the program is structured for example. It has multiple phases designed to offer each of the 10 fellows a fully immersive experience. The program covers subjects such as leadership, advocacy, international development, and global citizenship.

 

“Fellows will also have the opportunity to take part in a series of masterclasses given by industry leaders. The program also features educational field trips designed to help fellows develop into value-centred, community-driven leaders,” Didi added.

 

Didi added,“The past cohort were learning about using digital technology to drive social change; how storytelling can help spark cultural shifts; and the role of innovation in an ever-changing world.”

 

“ I think our youth are really passionate, and they’re very hungry to be heard, especially the females. What I pray for is that they keep that consistency to ensure that when they get to the top, they are bringing in other sisters into the workforce.” — Didi Morake

Cathy From Limpopo: A Rewarding Success Story

“I remember Cathy from Limpopo, who has her blog called Millennial Mirror, a platform born out of the need to create a space for young people to share their experiences. She came in with a very analytical brain since she had a background in Mathematics and Information Systems. It was so beautiful to see her discover her creative side by the end of the fellowship and become more in touch with it.” 

“Now Cathy hopes to one day be able to use technology to find solutions for society’s pressing issues and tackle injustices,” Morake added. This is Didi’s why — helping young people reach their full potential. This success story is one example in which Didi finds her work rewarding and helping her fulfil her purpose. 

Thrive: Didi’s Call to Women in 2020

2020 has been an especially tough year in youth development and employment for women. While the situation is not all grim, Didi comments that in her work, she continues to find herself asking one major question — ‘where are the women?’

According to Didi, there are a lot of spaces women still need to occupy. This is why Didi’s mandate to all women this year is — thrive.

“Thrive in what it is that keeps you up at night. Thrive in your personal and spiritual relationships. Awaken to who you are and unleash your potential.” — Didi Morake

Interested in making an impact in your community like Didi? Learn more about how you can take action at globalcitizen.org or Global Citizen Twitter page.

Meet Chebet Chikumbu: The Global Citizen trying to solve Africa’s youth development and education crisis

Chebet Chikumbu identifies as Pan-African

“Inside Global Citizen” is a limited series that will run during the month of August. It will pull back the curtain and highlight members of Global Citizen staff who are key parts of the organization’s advocacy, impact, and more. 

Be part of our community of outstanding women by joining today.

The United Nations estimates that a quarter of the world’s illiterate population lives in sub-Saharan Africa. With the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic further crippling Africa’s already fragile education systems, the challenge to develop the future of Africa remains a daunting task.

At Global Citizen, Chebet Chikumbu is leading an all-women team focused on youth development across Africa to solve this big education and literacy crisis.

CHEBET’S JOURNEY INTO YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

Chebet’s passion for seeing growth in Africa started at a very early age. When she was 10 years old, her parents whisked her away from Kenya to boarding school in South Africa where she developed an appreciation for Africa’s diversity. 

While she initially wanted to become an accountant like her father, her goals shifted as she began to learn more about countries across Africa, and noticed the prevailing inequalities that were similar across the board. 

With this new awareness, she found herself leaning more towards humanitarian work than accounting.

young Chebet Chikumbu

Today, Chebet works as the Regional Director for Southern and Eastern Africa at Global Citizen and identifies herself as a Pan-African woman with roots in Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe. 

“I have really come to understand our similarities as Africans but also the nuances in a way that has given me a very profound appreciation for what it means to identify with a Nationality like a singular place.” – Chebet Chikumbu.

INSIDE CHEBET’S JOB: SOLVING A MAN-MADE CRISIS

To create sustainable and practical solutions to the problems of youth development and education, Chebet’s team identifies governments and corporations that can support priorities around the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), develop campaign strategies, and mobilize support across sectors.

With her all-star team, Chebet oversees Global Citizen’s campaigns and ensures that commitments made through the Global Citizen platform are delivered and have a real impact on the intended recipients.

“It became clearer to me that a lot of what we see is man made. And, if these are man made problems, it means that there are man made solutions. And if we collectively put our heads and our hands to work, we can come up with the necessary problem solving that is required to address the world’s most pressing problems.” – Chebet Chikumbu. 

BeyGOOD: A SUCCESS STORY IN AFRICAN YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

Chikumbu has had great successes with her team at Global Citizen. Inspired by Nelson Mandela’s passion for youth development and education, as well as his legacy of empowering future generations, Chebet and her team launched the  Global Citizen Fellowship Program Powered by BeyGOOD.

 

The Global Citizen Fellowship Program Powered by BeyGOOD is equipping young people with the skills they need to play a role in social justice, helping their communities achieve the SDGs, and amplifying causes that they believe in.

Global Citizen Fellowship Program class of 2020

Now, the Fellowship program is kicking off for its second year — with an extraordinary class of 10 young people. Designed to empower young people with work experience, the program is not only supporting the vision of a South Africa that nurtures its youth.

Each fellow will also have the benefit from personalized mentorship from leaders in entertainment, business, government, and civil society — all aimed at enabling them to realize their potential to become global agents of change.

Chikumbu encouraged young people to apply and engage in the paid, year-long fellowship aligned to one of Global Citizen’s four pillars of activity: creative, campaigns, rewards, and marketing. The next application period would be in 2021. 


ADVICE: HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT MENTOR  

The mentorship program is an aspect of The Global Citizen Fellowship Program powered by BeyGOOD that Chebet is especially proud of. With a career that has spanned over 15 years, she emphasizes that an effective mentor can create an open environment for young African women to express themselves and be heard.

“I can attest to the fact that mentors have really helped me shape my career in my 20s, and especially now in my 30s because I am thinking more broadly around how do I deepen my thought leadership and how do I truly become the light that I want to be and that I want to see in the world.”- Chebet Chikumbu. 

To find the right mentor, Chebet advises that you look for somebody who believes your intentions and is invested in seeing you be great without any strings attached -the key is you have to ask!

SOLVING A CRISIS DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC

The pandemic has not spared Chebet and her team. According to Chikumbu, prior to the pandemic, Africa had been making progress to meet the 17 goals. Now, even those targets where that had almost been hit are under threat of having decades of progress wiped out in a matter of weeks.

“Due to COVID-19, an unprecedented health, economic and social crisis is threatening lives and livelihoods …we know that people of colour are disproportionately affected and we know that on the continent it means that the majority of those people of colour will be young and under the age of 30.” – Chebet Chikumbu. 

The UN says global school closures have kept over 90% of students worldwide – 1.57 billion pupils – out of access to education, and among them, 370 million children are missing out of school meals that they depend on. For those without access to internet and computers at home, remote learning is not an option, meaning almost no education for the duration of the crisis.

In short, if we thought it was real out here, COVID-19 is teaching us things can be a whole lot more real with existing inequalities and injustices. 

THE FUTURE OF YOUTH DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATION IN AFRICA

While progress might seem daunting, all hope is not lost. Chikumbu and her team are making a collective response to the pandemic, which can serve as a ‘warm-up’ for their preparedness in revamping the progress they had previously made.

“What we are now having to, I suppose, absorb as a shock but beyond that, that’s why we are gathering stakeholders around now to try and think of ways to turn that around and ways to immediately find effective solutions in the spirit of catching up,” says Chikumbu. 

Interested in learning more about Global Citizen? Visit the Global Citizen Twitter Page.

5 Career Lessons Sho Madjozi Taught Us In 2019

If you have not heard of Sho Madjozi, you must be living under a rock. This year, the 27-year-old proud Tsonga ambassador from Limpopo solidified her spot as an international superstar with hits like John Cena.

While she’s been in the rap scene for barely 3 years, she’s found major success in a short time. This year, she won the Best New International Act category at the BET Awards, launched her first fashion collection in collaboration with Edgards, and got the world taking the #JohnCenaChallenge.


After learning all we could about Sho Madjozi’s career, here are 5 lessons all Motherland Moguls can apply to accelerate their career growth.

1. Use your strengths

Maya (Sho Madjozi’s legal name) has spent years honing and leveraging her writing skills to build a career for herself.

Whether she’s doing screenplays, poetry or rap, she understands her core strength and has used that to explore career paths including journalism, performance poetry and rap.

Develop your strengths and use them to build your career. When you bring something valuable to the table, you set yourself up for accelerated success.

2. Get involved in your community

Sho Madjozi has always used her talents to try to shape or change the community around her.

As a poet and journalist, she discussed racial identity and the effects of colonialism on the modern African. Now as a rapper, she promotes Tsonga culture and inspires young Africans to be proud of their roots.

How does that apply to you when you get to the office in the new year? Plug into the issues of your company, clients, customers and see how your talents can change things. Your involvement keeps you visible and valuable.

3. Collaborate with strategic partners

One major way Sho Madjozi accelerated her career growth this year was through her strategic partnership with Edgars. Through her collaboration with the retail brand, she launched her first clothing line at the same time as her album.

To reach your career goals, it’s always easier and faster to get some help. Seek out strategic partners within your network that will help you reach your business goals. A great start is to find a mentor.

4. Know your worth

In an interview with Africori, Sho Madjozi explains that African artists need to understand that they are very hot in the market right now and need to negotiate their value appropriately.

Understanding the value of your skills and experiences is important to accelerate your career.

"In Business As In Life – You Don't Get What You Deserve, You Get What You Negotiate" – Chester L. Karrass Click To Tweet

5. Bet on yourself

The most important to take away from Sho Madjozi’s hustle this year is to bet on yourself. Sho Madjozi’s success in the past year has been with no label support. She has continuously taken chances and invested in herself.

You must take swings and get out of your comfort zone to grow – volunteer to be team lead on a project, pitch that idea in your head, and start that side hustle!

What lessons will you use to SLAY your career in 2020?


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The Queen of Representation – From Botswana to the world

“The A-Girls are exceptional, black vinyl dolls that appreciate the African girl of today, with all her versatility and diversity”.

Dolls are part of a girl’s introduction to what is considered ‘beautiful’. According to Bakani, creating the brand was essential in order to excavate and resuscitate what African beauty is. 

Until August 2016, Bakani July Johnson was a Lecturer at the University of Botswana (UB) in the Social Work Department. She holds a Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work and has worked intensively in the psychosocial field since 2004, gaining experience with Botswana Baylor Children’s Clinic as a social welfare case manager.

Prior to that, she worked with the Government of Botswana as a Social Welfare officer. After years of ideating, planning and testing, Bakani left the UB and started her doll-making business.

Bakani is a social entrepreneur and is constantly looking for ways to enhance the lives of others.

She is also a founding trustee of Musani Family Care Foundation, an organization that focusses on the restoration of Botswana’s family unit, and offers accommodation to families in transition, mostly caregivers of hospitalized patients who come from far off villages.

Musani Family Care Foundation seeks to bridge the gap by providing temporary housing and support for these families who need it most, at no cost. 

Connect with Bakani and her business on social media.


Why it is important for me to make the dolls…

I have always loved children. I am forever looking for ways to enhance their wellbeing and this led to the realization that there were no black dolls to use during clinical sessions with my little patients.

As a social worker, dolls are some of the symbolic tools used for communication during sessions. However, more often than not, the dolls that were donated looked nothing like the children I worked with.

This became a query, to manufactures and it was not a pretty feeling as it was seen from the point of exclusion. 

I realized that I could continue with the feeling of being ‘left out’ as a black African girl, or I could do something about it.  The research allowed me to see that I, and others like me, were never a concern for doll-makers; they had their own market and concerns.

Whatever I could find was by sheer luck.  I refused to use divisive story-telling or to accept that it was ‘someone else’s fault’ that as Batswana – and Africans – we don’t have black dolls.

The more I searched, the more I was challenged to create the doll I was looking for. I worked from thought to product, beginning in 2007.

The effect representation has on young Batswana /African girls…

We have for the longest time been portrayed as ugly, and not a representation of beauty.

If you research dolls throughout history, you will not like what you see. We have been ‘caricatured’ through the years and our features ridiculed. Our natural hair is still a full-on debate today.

With the dolls, I am simply excavating and resuscitating a black girl’s beauty.

The idea of the @AGirls15 dolls was to trigger an emotional response and to ensure that we put African girls faces on beauty, with a clear understanding that it is our responsibility to raise a new, confident African girl. – Bakani… Click To Tweet

The idea of the dolls was to trigger an emotional response and to ensure that we put African girls faces on beauty, with a clear understanding that it is our responsibility to raise a new, confident African girl. 

The development of The African Girls Dolls is a winning communication tool targeting children.

These are one-of-a-kind vinyl dolls that appreciate the diversity of African girls and were created with the realization of a lack of representation both commercially and in messaging for African children.

Most props and toys used are of girls and boys are not of African descent. Through the African girls’ collection, I am constantly helping organizations to create a unique language of truths, trust, and symbols as part of visual storytelling and visual messaging.

I understand that symbolically, images help us to understand abstract concepts that cannot always be translated into words and dolls have throughout history been symbols to communicate, appreciate and represent.

Dolls are part of a girl’s introduction to what is considered ‘beautiful’, and speaking to that aspect we want to be able to say ‘she is so pretty, just like a doll’ – and actually talk about a doll that looks like her. 

Children are visual beings. They connect to things visually and will remember things seen more than things said. They connect with objects or pictures from memory.

Africa and Botswana are about symbolism, or what things represent and communicate.

By giving girls @AGirls15 dolls that look like them, we are communicating a million things without words. Silent messaging works well with children – Bakani July Johnson Click To Tweet

If you listen in on doll play, your child communicates with what she sees. If her dolly is wearing beads she will have a conversation about that. The idea was to have dolls that are relevant to the children, thus when one looks at the dolls, they will realize that some have tutu skirts and modern symbols which represents a ‘modern girl’ whereas others are dressed in traditional Tswana regalia.

Great dolls bring the thought of history, self, and admiration. Children from different ethnicities benefit from playing with dolls that are a different skin tone, make and versatility.

Though dolls are not photocopies of the individual, we believe that to a small child the most important thing is that her little dolly is beautiful just like her, validating who she is and how she relates to herself.

The role I see my dolls playing in a Motswana girl’s life

This product, created by an African woman for African children is girl-centered for now and is self-esteem/self-efficacy based.

More than play, the dolls are seen as communication tools that instill gender and ethnic pride as a foundation for social skills. What you see and is preached becomes a norm. If everyone talks about ‘light-skinned’ being better, children will want that.

I want parents to hand the dolls to the children without influencing the children’s taste about them. 

I have involved a few people in the crafting of the dolls from those that design the clothes to those that do the hair and packaging.

I am very committed from an economic point of view to create an ecosystem that will hire many people because the project has a lot of potential for growth.

I want a situation where the dolls will have ambassadors so that the young ones can appreciate the mortal presentations of the dolls, just the way they experience the princesses that they see at places like Disneyland.

I will build the momentum and I am open to ideas to help develop the brand even further. I am sending out a call to all African and Botswana girls to join the brand as re-sellers and distributors for their countries.

How I manufacture my dolls…

I have involved a few people in the crafting of the dolls, from those who design the clothes to those who do the hair and packaging.

Unfortunately, in Africa we don’t have companies that work with vinyl for doll making, so we have been forced to outsource.

However, we do have tailors and designers, crochet ladies and shoemakers working on other aspects of the dolls locally.

How the dolls have been recieved by people so far

The success of the dolls has transcended borders and continents, and they have reached international markets.

Botswana has been amazing! The relevance is clearly understood, the need is very apparent and we can only express gratitude for all the support.

Media has been keen at each stage of their development, and young, hopeful Batswana are eagerly working to join the brand and with open arms, we are welcoming ideas and collaborations.

The dolls are currently available across Botswana, as well as re-sellers in Johannesburg, the Netherlands and the United States of America.

We have worked with brands like the Netball World Youth Cup, International Women in Sport, Botswana Tourism Organization and we are currently working on a project with Botswana Netball.

The growth of the business will definitely be stimulated by partnerships.  Partnering at different levels with others is beneficial.

I am working with so many individuals who want to run with certain aspects of the product and I have never been as relieved as the agreements come to fruition. I know now I cannot do it alone! 


Botswana is one of Africa’s success stories, from one of Africa’s poorest countries to a vibrant, developed, middle-income African state.

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I have evolved as a traveler: Senzelwe Mthembu shares her ultimate travel guide

27 years old Senzelwe Mthembu is an explorer at heart, a South African traveler, researcher, content creator, and photography enthusiast.

When she’s not curating travel experiences, Senzelwe works as a social researcher at the Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA). She focuses on youth transitions into adulthood, youth (un)employment, and on other topics related to young people.

She has a background in politics, philosophy, and economics and obtained her Master’s Degree in Philosophy at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2015.

In this article, she highlights how she’s evolving as a traveler and her experiences traveling on the continent.


What made you fall in love with travel?

My passion for travel started at a young age when, as a family, we would drive down to rural Kwa-Zulu Natal during the festive season.

I remember being fascinated by the change in terrain and context. The first memorable trip for me was to the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga. So my passion for travel and the African continent started right here, in South Africa.

I later realized the need to showcase my love for travel and to highlight Africa’s beauty to other Africans and to the world.

What kind of traveler are you?

I think I have evolved as a traveler and will probably continue to evolve as my interests change. I was once primarily interested in going to the main tourist attractions and wanting to do things because so many other people had done them.

Travel felt like quite a selfish endeavor. I now take a greater interest in the people from the place that I am traveling to and I want to fully immerse myself in the culture and learn as much as I can.

What interesting social customs have you encountered while traveling the continent?

There are two things which I found interesting. The first was just how friendly and helpful people in Kenya are.

I have not experienced hospitality in the way I experienced it in Kenya. It felt like there was a real concern for other human beings, especially those visiting their country.

The second, which we generally don’t practice here in South Africa, was taking your shoes off when you enter someone’s home. Not only was this the case in the traditional Swahili settlement of Lamu where most of the population is Muslim, but this practice was also found in Nairobi, Kenya where on one evening we invited friends we had made over to our Airbnb home and they did the same.

I found it interesting that young people in Kenya were also taking their shoes off when entering someone’s home.

Paradise on a plate… Your favorite meal on any of your travels?

My favorite meal on my travels was at a very unpretentious, buffet-style traditional Swahili restaurant.

It was the first meal I had in Lamu, Kenya and consisted of pilau (a rice, meat and vegetable dish that is very popular in Kenya), lentils, fish in a spicy tomato stew and other vegetables.

I was so impressed by the flavors.

What do you know now about traveling on a limited budget that you wish you’d known earlier?

I wish I took the plunge earlier! Travel is possible for many people and a range of budgets can be accommodated.

But I do wish I learned the art of saving ahead of time and drawing up a budget. There are so many ways of making travel more affordable, whether it’s taking local public transport, staying in someone’s home or eating where locals eat.

Traveling on a limited budget does not necessarily make your experience any less enjoyable.

Got any travel & safety hacks for passport newbies & solo travelers?

Here are 3 tips for keeping safe and for saving money, especially as a solo traveler.

1. Do your research ahead of time.

The first important things to check for international travel in Africa is whether or not you need any vaccinations such as for Yellow Fever or Malaria.

Also, check luggage dimensions and free baggage policies for the airline or be prepared to pay extra, risk missing your flight or be forced to leave things behind!

2. Choose your accommodation wisely.

Solo travel often means paying more for accommodation since you won’t be sharing the costs with anyone. But that is not always the case!

It’s important to ask yourself what you can afford but also, what you can’t compromise on when it comes to accommodation. If your budget is low, you can still find good accommodation but manage your expectations.

Use Airbnb to book your accommodation as it allows you to book a private room in someone’s house at your stated budget. This makes it safer for you as most of the time you are living with a local who can provide invaluable information and tips about the neighborhood.

Also consider staying in a hostel or backpackers, which will work out to be much cheaper and makes it easier for you to meet like-minded solo travelers.  For both these options, remember to read reviews!

Be as prepared as possible.

Prepare for possible long layovers at airports by having a pillow or blanket, WATER (I cannot stress this one enough) and snacks from the plane or from home.

Carry a moon bag or small backpack for your valuables. It’s so much easier to remember the important things when you can access valuables easily. Write out important contact details and information in multiple places, including on your phone and have extra copies of important documentation in case you lose anything.

And make sure you can access your money from more than one bank card.What is your next travel destination, and why?

I will be traveling to Rwanda and Tanzania soon, but this time it’ll be as part of a beautifully curated group trip where West Africans and Southern Africans, amongst others, will meet in East Africa for an experience of a lifetime.

My sister and I have a shared passion for travel in Africa and so we launched our destination travel company, Lived Experience Travel, this year. Our first international trip is in partnership with Ghana-based, The Travel Clan (@thetravelclan on Instagram) and we are heading to East Africa.

This will be a two-country, 11-day trip to Rwanda and Tanzania that fuses culture, art, traditional food and that celebrates what Africa has overcome and what some of our achievements are.

 

Your final travel advice for motherland moguls?

I think we need to take advantage of what technology and social media have enabled us to do and that is – connect.

The best way to experience a new place is by meeting the locals, having real conversations with people and exploring together.

Another piece of advice is not to wait for others to come along and that local travel is valid! If you notice a pattern of passing travel opportunities up, save some of the money you would have spent on eating out and shopping until you can comfortably do a solo trip or an organized group trip.

Be open-minded, humble yourself to the ways of others, be yourself and learning from my past mistakes – draw up a budget (even if it’s rough).


What do you love the most about your country? Click here to share.

The Deep Rations of a Mental War: How It Affects You and Your Career

 Triggers are not always pulled, some are attended to by planting seeds where the soil has no intention to grow or build - @go_itse. Click To Tweet

As a content creator or simply a writer, you would think that the only thing that one has to deal with is pen and paper. The conception of an idea and putting it to paper, and then once you’re done, it defines you.

However, we tend to forget that our career or business is a journey.

If at any point you find yourself thinking of quitting, changing the name/industry of your business or switching careers and starting afresh, remember these points coined from The Art of War.

Discovering

The author of The Art of War, Sun Tzu, would say,

Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security, open ground and narrow passes, the chances of life and death.”

Mental health, depression as most would relate to, takes us to the depths of fighting between small and great distances, vis-à-vis, that we would want to take ourselves to, especially with our business and career goals, with the same breath try to balance it all with the personal ones.

And what I’ve learned and still I’m still learning is that it brings great danger than security. Allowing narrow passes over open grounds, bringing about confusion and a high risk of certain aspects of your career lying dormant.

In Point 21 of Laying Plans, Tzu explains,If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.”

In as much as we take the detriment of mental health as sickness, it is more psychological as it is. The more we allow the elements to grow greater than our will to succeed, the more we are aligned to derail.

 

To evade is an individual mystery, which is aligned as to how we got there in the first place. As we go through this state in a unique way that in some cases, no mantras can maintain let alone anti-depressants.

It is more like trying to evade the police in Need For Speed Most Wanted. Wherein this matter, we are trying to evade the state of being “less wanted” by the essence of life and you’re either marching, running or sinking in the art of war with your mind.

The best thing about knowing and acknowledging the state of our own mental health is through self-mastery - @Go_Itse Click To Tweet

Uncovering

When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.

On the other hand, the proximity of an army causes prices to go up; and high prices cause the people’s substance to be drained away.”

Waging War, The Art of War.

Defining what we go through as a mental illness whereas it’s a result of unattended life aspects that stack up, cause friction and then the heat goes to the head.

That’s when we start to wonder why life sucks and then the idea of being stuck sucks life away from that which we love. From managing people, careers to a detrimental state of not being able to manage the major key to all, ourselves.

 

A high price to pay that I learned by the means of losing a job, as you couldn’t talk to anyone.

You see yourself as the go-to person and the happy-go-lucky person with a great beautiful smile. Failing to deliver on time and lack of communication were the failures derived from this state.

We define what we go through as a mental illness whereas it’s a result of unattended life aspects that stack up, cause friction and then the heat goes to the head - @go_itse Click To Tweet

Recovery

”If equally matched, we can offer battle, if slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy, if quite an equal in every way, we can flee from him”

Attack by Stratagem, The Art of War.

Triggers are not always pulled, some are attended to by planting seeds where the soil has no intention to grow or build.

The energy it takes for an attack or a relapse to occur, (as some deal with it well enough to know the triggers and some don’t), requires one to have an equal or greater strength as the infirmity.

Be it consistency in therapy (talking, writing etc.), yoga, meditation or exercising. Trying to avoid such a state can be easy at an early stage by doing the most with therapy and other forms of it, from someone who discovered at a very early age.

Mastery

”One may know how to conquer without being able to do it.”

– Tactical Disposition, The Art of War.

We may read all the self-help books to gain knowledge on how to break through an anxiety/depression state. But the will of the author of the book and of another individual may not correspond.

The best thing about knowing and acknowledging the state of our own mental health is through self-mastery. From that point of perspective and execution will we be able to master other things, even when there are triggers.

Then we can become effective motherland moguls and not be faint-hearted.

5 Take Home Points from The Art of War on Mental Health

  1. “Energy may be likened to the bending of a crossbow. A decision, to the releasing of a trigger.” – Energy
  2.  “Thus one who is skillful at keeping the enemy on the move maintains deceitful appearances, according to which the enemy will act. He sacrifices something that the enemy may snatch at it.” – Energy
  3. “By discovering the enemy’s dispositions and remaining invisible ourselves, we can keep our forces concentrated, while the enemy must be divided.” – The Weak Point and Strong
  4.  ”So in war, the way to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.” – The Weak Points and Strong.
  5.  ”In order to carry out an attack, we must have means available. The material for raising fire should always be kept in readiness.” – Attack By Fire

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OP-ED: DO AFRICAN WOMEN EVEN DO POLITICS?

44 African leaders made history in Kigali, Rwanda on 21 March 2018, when they signed up for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The agreement will create one of the world’s largest free trade areas – a single market for goods and services for a population of over 1.2 million people – if all AU members eventually sign and ratify it.

The AfCTA is in line with the broader goals of the AU reforms initiative, which intends to move away from the current situation of multiple, almost competing for economic blocs to a single pan-African unit that facilitates the free movement of goods and services across the continent. The AfCTA is a milestone achievement that could change the economic trajectory of the continent.

A celebratory photograph of the various leaders who gathered in Kigali was rapidly shared across various media platforms to commemorate the singularity of events. Yet, anyone paying attention quickly noticed one thing about the photograph – there were no women.

Can the AU reforms process create room for women in the highest levels of political leadership on the continent? The final round of negotiations for the AfCFTA, unfortunately, coincided with the resignation of Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the first female president of Mauritius.

Outside of South Africa and Malawi, no woman has run for president in the Southern Africa region- @tanaforum @nanjala1 Click To Tweet

There are now no female heads of state on the continent. Before Gurib-Fakim, we had Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in Liberia, Joyce Banda in Malawi and Catherine Samba-Panza in the Central African Republic.

Of the four, only Johnson-Sirleaf completed a full term with both Gurib-Fakim and Banda leaving office under tenuous allegations of fraud and Samba-Panza electing not to run for office after serving as a caretaker president.

If there are any unifying lessons to be learned from these experiences it is that African women political leaders are often held to higher standards than their male counterparts and that much more work can be done to incorporate women into political governance on the continent.

The subject of equality of women in politics in Africa is complex. In the pre-independence era, there are a number of examples of women rising to the top of their societies, particularly in fraught political moments.

Today, South Africa is the most un-equal country in the world according to the World Bank, with entrenched poverty directly linked to the “enduring legacy of apartheid”.

Madikezela-Mandela was punished for doing exactly the same things that her male counterparts did- @tanaforum @nanjala1 Click To Tweet

Madikezela-Mandela’s experience echoes the experience of women on the continent who form a slight numerical majority of the population but are systematically shut out from high-level politics. She was punished for doing exactly the same things that her male counterparts have done throughout the ages.

Women were at the center of liberation movements across the continent; not just in supporting roles but also leading political and military organizations.  Madikezela-Mandela was branded a murderer and denied a seat at the table of power in post-apartheid South Africa.

Rwanda has the highest number of women in parliament at 63.8%.- @tanaforum @nanjala1 Click To Tweet

Today, the situation facing African women in politics is mixed. Between 2005 and 2015, the proportion of women in legislatures in North Africa more than doubled from 7% to 18%, while in sub-Saharan Africa it increased from 15% to 22%.

Globally, Rwanda has the highest number of women in parliament at 63.8% and, because of the increasing use of quotas, women make up more than 30% of the legislature in most countries in East and Southern Africa. And as mentioned, four countries have put women in the top seat, more than Europe or North America combined.

Nonetheless, there have also been significant losses, particularly where women aim for the presidency.

Read the concluding part of this article here


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This article was originally written by Nanjala Nyabola, a writer and political analyst based in Nairobi, Kenya for the Tana-High Level Forum on Security in Africa 2018.

Rinae Sikhwari: I want to be a change driver

Meet Rinae Sikhwari, a 26-year-old young woman from Tshikwarani Village in South Africa. She currently resides in Polokwane finishing off her BCom Economics and Business Management from UNISA whilst working at New Leaders Foundation.

She is a fan of reading African literature books, watching series, traveling and discovering new places. Her favorite pastimes include going to food markets, organizing activities for the children in her home church, as well as watching TED Talks and writing. 


Rinae describes herself as a change driver and a learner at heart. She is an advocate for providing quality education, especially for children in disadvantaged communities.

Education has always been one of Rinae`s biggest passions and she strives to gain a stronger understanding of the complexities, challenges, and milestones of the South African Education System.

Part of this is to not only be a solutions bringer but also a change agent to see the education system transformed to cater to the needs of all the children across the country.

 

The South African Education Government spends 6.4% of its GDP on education, however, performance levels are lower than many other countries in the region. Not all children have access to the same quality of education, a legacy left behind by the apartheid government.

Rinae is a consultant at New Leaders Foundation, a non- profit organization that is committed to transforming South African Education. The Organisation founded the Data Driven Districts Dashboard Programme, an approachable, highly intuitive dashboard that displays appropriate education-related information to education officials at all levels in the South African Schooling system.

She emphasizes the importance of data – “Having accurate data ensures that informed decisions are being made, data determines all the decisions and interventions that need to be undertaken.”

Her work involves a lot of interaction with stakeholders from the department of education in driving data-driven conversations and decisions. Engagement with these stakeholders is based on data attained from schools through the South African School Management System.

“I’ve learned to understand how essential it is to have people skills and managing working relations with officials of different levels and rankings”. Her work ranges from assisting Department of Education officials from district directors to curriculum advisors and school principals attain data that will assist them to make informed decisions.Her work also takes her into the field where she can see firsthand how the policies of the Department of Education affect local communities.

“Working in the field has offered me the context to understand the data we extract from schools on a daily basis.” This has brought visibility of complexities of the department and an understanding of the massive gaps and inequalities in the education sector.

Central to her beliefs is the importance of advocating for the education of young women especially those that are growing up in areas where they are faced with so many socio-economic issues, who face so many challenges and a lot of the times education becomes a pillar and an enabler for them to defy the odds against them.

Her own upbringing in a rural village made her understand that it is through education that a woman becomes independent and attains opportunities.

“I am still such a firm believer that not only does education enable one to critically think and analyse but also education gives one the opportunity to be inquisitive, seek to explore and know more and the more you can do better, a learned/well-read/educated woman is able to challenge the status quo, I believe being educated gives one option and looking at how marginalized women are in society particularly black women it is imperative and essential for women to be educated.

Rinae established a reading club in the township of Seshego in 2015 for children aged between 4-14 years old, currently, the club has over 50 children and has strong support from the parents.

She describes the reading club as a platform for children to learn to read and write for enjoyment, it’s a space in which children learn mathematical, social and literacy skills.

“I’ve just observed how children enjoy our sessions and most of them have become avid readers, I love how they speak their minds and express their opinions that is actually what’s important for me.”

Rinae has always wanted to do work that has a meaning to her and her development as someone aspiring to be a change driver. What does this mean? Being a change driver means doing more to better her community whether it be through mentoring and tutoring or supporting community development initiatives started by her peers or young people from her village.

It also means giving a voice and a platform to those who need the change most- raising awareness about initiatives and shinning the spotlight on the developments in the community.


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Hey Motherland Mogul, Celebrate!

One month down, eleven more to go. I really hope you’re not letting out a sigh yet because my polite reminder to you this year is to take it one day at a time. One, not two or three, but one.

Stop worrying about being the perfect student, mommy, worker, just celebrate each day Click To Tweet

Rather than going through the list of things at the end of the day that you haven’t achieved and turn mauve with anger, how about you just celebrate and be happy because, in this grand dance of life, that’s all you need to get through another day.

I am asking you to stop worrying about being the perfect student, mommy, worker, all that in between and just celebrate each day in its uniqueness.

 

Society has taught us to swank the achievements and sweep the disappointments under a heavy Persian rug. Take a brief look at successful business stories or closer home, social media. They only tell of the good side, the pictures we see are predominantly facades but no struggle is told of at length (probably a few) and only briefly.

We only see the tip of the iceberg but not the rock underneath. What you need to do is, take a long look at that rock and celebrate it. Without it, that tip would never be. Maybe this is the year that the rock is forming, or it could be the next.

Well, lady, celebrate that!

At the risk of sounding like a fluffy motivational speaker, let me share three reasons as to why I am asking you to celebrate these days, these moments, this rock, this masterpiece that’s loading.

1. Your sense of success will be enlightened even better.

The more you face your challenges better, the more your successes will give you a deeper sense of awareness. Here, I am talking about the awareness of the self.

You will achieve that balance that allows you to neither be to be too sad as to sit and wallow in your supposed failure nor be vain about your success and thus become complacent.

If you're irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished? Click To Tweet

2. You will wear gratitude like a daily cloak

You will begin to appreciate the little things, the very miniature ones included. For once, you will start to see and be thankful for that morning ray of sunshine in a different way.

You will give thanks for that roasted maize you bought on the roadside, you’ll be happy for the tiny bedsitter you’re living in as you hustle for that business or job, because hey, you have a roof over your head.

Every single person, event or item will be a point of meeting yourself at the heart of sincere gratitude. You know that they say with a grateful heart, right? Blessings abound.

 

3. You will become a better person

With this kind of celebration, it doesn’t matter if you can’t go out and spoil yourself with material things and not that I am against this but it matters more that you can do it within.

A lot of introspective work goes into this kind of felicitation and it takes plenty of willpower to be okay with the present; to sit in stillness and celebrate the challenges. This creates a deeper understanding of oneself and refines you from the inside out.

Then, you can lift others and encourage them. With your courage, you can elevate someone’s spirit who can see you wear pain and disappointment like Cinderella’s glass sandals. These are selfish days my friend, go on and give some light to someone.

There you go. So now, who’s ready to celebrate with me?


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