Could a Sisterhood Be a Tool To Drive Change?

My name is Philisiwe Phelokazi Cenga, I am currently living in KZN, eMlazi. Activator 2015 and I am a quarter of a century old.

What is your field of passion/interest?

Well, that’s quite a question. Women empowerment and education, mainly. I am also a researcher, of which I really love.

What are you doing to drive change?

Currently, I am part of The Sisterhood Tribe, a group of young women who are passionate about women empowerment and safety in society. I just started hosting a series of sex talks called Bring a Lil Sister, your “Lil Sister” can be 12 or 20 – it doesn’t really matter. The first one was hosted in UMlazi. This is to give these young women a safe space to talk all things from relationships to sex and sexuality. Our main aim is to encourage conversations around these issues so that they can make better and informed decisions about their sex lives and sexuality in general.

I have also co-founded and currently co-run an NPO called ChangeSA, this is my original baby with Monica Ndlovu. We tutor, mentor and give career guidance to schools around uMlazi, we are currently working with two schools at the moment and looking to expand in the coming year.

How has ACTIVATE! Supported you in driving change?

The network! Being part of such a powerful network of young people gives you that courage to get out there and advance yourself, advance your skills and do more for your community. The human resources at your disposal, the project planning tools and funding opportunities, this all has helped me quite a lot in successfully running my work and personal projects.

What is your take on the recognition of performing arts in South Africa?

Personally, I do not think it is getting the recognition it deserves. I don’t think that people recognize the role performing arts can play in education. How it can be used to discover and develop a person’s individual identity. How watching your favourite play or listening to music can teach you so much and inspire you to critically think about social issues. How listening to Mama Miriam Makeba and following her music can teach you so much about black history in South Africa. There are valid reasons though for this under-recognition, I believe. Poverty and inequality continuously corners us into that survival mentality, viewing anything that has to do with entertainment as a luxury or something that cannot help us tackle the important issues in society.

How do you reinforce culture in the work that you do?

Our culture, as black South Africans, or as South Africans in general, reinforces certain norms, the work I do looks at these norms and analyses how they might be harmful or oppressive to women and reinforce the ones that are positive to society at large. I try and relook and re-imagine what other types of norms might be positive towards women and reinforce those. For example, with ChangeSA we do our best to break down the gender stereotypes as to which career one can pursue, based on their gender, based on their background and also their socio-economic status. I am not sure if I make sense on this one

What should be the priority in setting the agenda for South Africa in the next 5 years?

Education! The way the education system is structured and the ways in which it can actually work for us as the youth in making South Africa a better country.

How do you motivate yourself?

I think what motivates me is knowing what my bigger picture looks like and doing what I can to get the right colour of paints, brushes and canvas to paint it. Also, it’s just in knowing that I deserve good things and that my dreams as a black child are valid.

How can Activators get in touch/collaborate with you?

Well, anyone with the same interests as above can just hit me up. I am looking to do more work that encourages women to own who they are and their bodies. Also, working with my fellow brothers to host brotherhood talks, I think it is important to look at the male perspective as well. I am Philisiwe Phelokazi Cenga on Facebook, on twitter @ChldOfRebellion

Final comments?

It is important to have an idea what you would want your bigger picture to look like.

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The Art of Driving Change

I am driving change through an organisation called Light of Life theatre,. Its been in existence since 2009 (7 years now). We have been training our peers for performing arts in our community. A lot of them have joined and grown to be university students, drama and movie actors.