By Jean Motsepe
Confidently describing himself as an ambitious and driven optimist who always sees the glass as half-full, a proud youth activist with a firm interest in youth development and agriculture and cohort of the 2017 ACTIVATE! Change Driver’s Programme, natural giver and critical thinker- meet Nkosinathi Gideni Ndlovu.
A perseverant young man who says he drew inspirations from his own personal struggles such as non-existent computer skills and poor social engineering that resulted from an underdeveloped and disadvantaged community, to co-founding the now 4 year-old Clau Clau Youth Development Forum, that was conceptualised by youth graduates for the youth to advocate for young people around socio-economic challenges, promote active citizenship and provide much-needed services that will help advance young people’s prospects of a brighter future.
After graduating from college and coming back home to once again be confronted by the usual, unacceptable suspects of proof of poor communities such as a lack of infrastructure, high unemployment levels, idle youth with idle minds and an overall disadvantaged environment for youths to improve their capacity and have their interests championed, Gideni quickly realised that the only people who could properly champion youth interests and improve youth prospects for a more promising future, are the youth themselves.
Asked if there aren’t struggles of his own that he battles on a daily basis, the 31 year-old assures that the only struggles he is currently concerned with are the struggles whose solutions will be for the greater good; such as securing funding and fully functional equipment for Clau Clau, so that no other young person in his community will have to go through some of the shames and struggles he had to endure in his younger years.
With that in mind, the next initiative was born: Championed by a mix of young men and a woman, consisting of Nkosinathi himself and his fellow co-founders, to specifically benefit young girls; called the #PadsDriveProgram. When asked why, as a young man he would choose to concern himself with an issue he would possibly never personally have to battle with nor be directly affected by, he stresses that such like-minded, gender-neutral partnerships are the game-changers for a better tomorrow for everyone. Furthermore, the Mpumalanga University graduate says he is very proud of the mission, vision as well as the results born for and from the program, which included restoring dignity to young women who previously resorted to other means to be able to afford basics such as sanitary pads.
As the age-old African proverb goes: It takes a village to raise a child and this reverberated with the #PadsDrive as Clau Clau managed to garner the support of local businesses as well as the local municipality, who contributed to the success of the cause by donating bags filled with necessary cosmetics and an astounding number of packs of sanitary towels.
The 24th of February drive was then given heightened impact by speakers who spoke on dire topics such as poor socio-economic backgrounds, the transition into adolescence, gender-based violence and teenage pregnancy.
Now there is a popular saying that preaches that “young people should, ten years from now, make sure they can say they chose their life, and didn’t just settle for it”. As an organisation that strives to hone young leaders to tackle problems facing their communities, instead of joining the queue of pessimistic naysayers who sit back and simply allow life to happen to them, we hope Nkosinathi keeps his promise to always continue to choose to pave the way for the kind of future he aspires for, for both himself and those from his immediate community.