Youth Resilience Leads to a Leaderless Revolution

By: Mojalefa Mokhosi

The leaderless revolution is here, but it is not what the zealots say it is. Both the far right and far left are wrong about what the leaderless revolution in South Africa looks like because both sides have no catalyzing figure to galvanise the cell-like structure of such a revolution. A leaderless revolution is conventionally characterized by a martyr-like figure taking a bold first step in creating a culture of individuals that work together toward a central ideological imperative without direct communication links to a central point, such revolutionaries are often made up of extremely resilient youth. The Activate Change Drivers Network may be seen as such a revolution, with a network of over four thousand young people across the country working toward a positive change in their communities.

During youth month, is it important to review how such revolutions survive even during global pandemics, and at a time where youth unemployment is at the highest? Of course, youth resilience takes many forms but for this article, we will review how Activators respond to unemployment during a pandemic. Numerous researchers have concluded that how youth respond to stressors is much more important than the stressor itself in determining their outcomes. Youth are more likely to achieve healthy, favorable outcomes and to thrive if they are resilient.

Take the 1976 youth, for example, the uprising that began in Soweto and spread countrywide profoundly changed the socio-political landscape in South Africa. Events that triggered the uprising can be traced back to policies of the Apartheid government that resulted in the introduction of the Bantu Education Act in 1953. The rise of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) and the formation of the South African Students Organisation (SASO) raised the political consciousness of many students while others joined the wave of anti-Apartheid sentiment within the student community. This is a perfect example of a leaderless revolution, and resilient youth, these young people refused to accept the status quo and collaborated for a societal good.

Although today’s youth are not fighting for the same things that were fought by the youth of 1976, young people need to redirect their focus to the personal and socio-economic development of the country, in line with the vision towards a free South Africa in which the youth assume an active role as agents of change, reconstruction, and economic development. Such revolutions do not require a single leader but a collaboration by the youth for the youth. The Activate Change Drivers Network is a catalyst for such a revolution and resilience.

In the context of South Africa, we understand that economic circumstances teach youth resilience from a young age, and the coronavirus pandemic forced young people to review their path and adapt it to the new normal. Activators Brian Hlongwane, and Kenneth Sethunya are a perfect example that youth are resilient when they can call forth their inner strength to positively meet challenges, manage adversities, heal the effects of trauma, and thrive given their unique characteristics, goals, and circumstances.

When the pandemic hit, Brian was already faced with unemployment and a struggling tutoring business. That, however, did not pull him down. Rather, Brian moved his business online and continued to serve his clients. He currently has a cohort of 10 learners full-time and part-time. Primary to tertiary. He is 1 of 12 mentees nationally for a 9 month long Sanlam Mentorship Programme delivered in partnership with the Activate! Academy and National Mentorship Movement.

Kenneth could not complete his education degree from Central University of Technology, he dropped out in 2016 due to financial issue he had given up and was without hope, it was only after joining the Activate Change Drivers Network in 2019, that Kenneth started Future Pioneer Academy as tutorial Non-Profitable Company for Secondary School learners who are in Grade 9, Grade 10 and Grade 11 and mainly doing Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Accounting. Currently, Kenneth has over 6 young people employed at Future Pioneer Academy and serving over 50 learners. According to him this all because of collaboration and resilience to work even when conditions didn’t allow it.

In conclusion, demonstrating resilience helps youth to internalize the belief that their lives are important and meaningful. Thus, they can envision and conscientiously work with purpose and optimism toward future possibilities for themselves. Activate Change Drivers Network serves as not only a catalyst for youth resilience but also a great tool for a leaderless revolution.

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