A New Horizon for Orange Farm

The youth of Orange Farm have set their eyes on building a vocational school to bridge the skills gap in the community.

By Selokela Molamodi


The following is an update on one of the outcomes of the Feminist Economic Manifesto compiled by the women-empowerment movement, Young Urban Women. The manifesto was launched in September 2023 by young women in their full diversity from different parts of Johannesburg. One of the calls to action was a vocational school in Orange Farm.


The Feminist Economic Manifesto was launched on the weekend of the 16th and 17th of September 2023 at Afrika Tikkun in Braamfontein with over 30 women in the room. The conversations started off lightly with questions such as “How do you think you participate in the current economy?” and “Do you feel like an active or passive participant?” which led to various breakaway activities with various outcomes. With experienced and knowledgeable minds such as Ms. Phelisa Nkomo, an economist and feminist, the women in the room had the right source of information.  One of the biggest outcomes of the manifesto was a vocational school for Orange Farm. It was agreed that the community, south of Johannesburg, was further from many opportunities. The stakeholders who could make this idea become tangible were identified and the community was one of them.

Taking the first step on the way forward.

Young Urban Women has always prided itself on its ability to organize and mobilize young women and the community at large. Following the agreements made in Braamfontein in September 2023, the organization embarked on the difficult journey of ensuring that the dream of a vocational school in Orange Farm materializes.

Young Urban Women Economic Forum hosted a community consultation and picnic on 26 November 2023 at Afrika Tikkun in Orange Farm. It was a family affair as the young and old gathered under a stretch tent with an afro-chic picnic set up to hear what the young women had to say. It was a safe space wherein toddlers were able to run around and play without any constraints. The most significant audience members were present – the parents and community members.  It was the perfect Sunday afternoon; children running around, snacks going around, and great music!

The program got off to a great start with a poetry performance by Miss Kay, a theatre practitioner and member of YUW. The opening speech was by another YUW member, Mbalizethu Khumalo. “We are the future so we must make the decision about our future”, she said. Khumalo highlighted the importance of respect for the law to achieve social cohesion. “To our brother and sisters, we love you. We just want you to be legal so that you can participate in the economy properly as you can see things are falling apart in South Africa,” she emphasized.

For the benefit of the audience that did not know about YUW, Mamiki Masilo and Duduzile of YUW shared the background of the movement. “As black people, we don’t have conversations about the economy. We are here to change that,” Mamiki said. Her colleague shared her sentiments. “ We are here to shape the world as economic feminists”, Duduzile added.

Although the young women spoke well, there was confusion as to what it was they really wanted. This was when economist and feminist, Phelisa Nkomo, stepped in to give proper context for the community members. “It is important that as parents and as a community, you support the vision of these children. Invite them into community meetings to talk about this vocational school,” she explained. There was a significant number of men present at the picnic which Phelisa expressed pride for. “I am happy that young men are present here because it is through your support that economic empowerment of women can be achieved. These children of YUW would like to build a vocational school that will help children who are not academically gifted. Let’s support them. Let’s grow them,” she concluded.

The journey to building a vocational school is not an easy one as the youth of Young Urban Women need the buy-in of community members, councillors, businesses and other organizations. The key focus for the movement is to garner support from all various stakeholders. The vision is clear and is so is the mandate. For the Orange Farm youth, it is from the south to the world!


About the author:

Selokela Slu Molamodi is a conversationalist and creative. She is the host of Hope Alive Breakfast, a facilitator at Qrate, a policy champion, and a Generation G champion.

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