Celebrating Mandela Day with Youth in Leadership

By: Kay-dee Mashile

While the country remains shaken by the events of the past week, many active citizens took it upon themselves to show up in celebration of Mandela Day. From cleaning up the streets and areas affected by the unrest and protests to various other charitable projects and programmes. One such programme was a virtual event hosted by the newly founded TEDxMdantsane organisation. TEDxMdantsane is an independently organised youth-led TED event that will take place annually at the township of Mdantsane, Eastern Cape, starting this year. This local chapter of the global TED organisation was founded by Vuyolwethu Sabani and her peers. For Mandela Day, Vuyo and her team hosted a panel discussion on youth leadership and how it relates to the legacy of leaders like Nelson Mandela. The conversation was broadcasted live on the TEDxMdantsane Facebook Page.

In the spirit of learning more about youth leaders and what it takes to build national leaders out of the youth of today, we spent some time with the lead organiser, Vuyo Sabani, to learn more about her aspirations and plans for this new TEDx chapter.

Tell us about yourself…

My name is Vuyolwethu Sabani. I was born and grew up in a loving home with wonderful Christian parents, Albert and Noncedo Sabani, at Braelyn Heights in East London. I went to East London High school until my father’s businesses and health took a financial knock while I was still quite young. We then moved to Mdantsane and I later went to Mida High School in Idutywa from Grade 10 until I passed Grade 12 in 2011. After struggling to get into university for a while, I decided to do short computer courses until I eventually enrolled at Walter Sisulu University from 2014 – 2019, studying towards a diploma in P.R. In 2019, I graduated with a B.Tech in Public Relations Management majoring in P.R and Communications.

What inspired you to start TEDxMdantsane?

I have always known from a very young age that I am here for positive societal impact but it is only when I fully captured my identity in Jesus Christ that I started making decisions about my life in pursuit of the version of me that He knew before creation. I first came across TED talks while at university and they changed my life, the impact they had on my perceptions on different subjects is what made me do more research about how they started. I wanted that experience for my community and I approached them to host it in my hometown because the vision of TED talks which is ideas worth spreading aligned with my vision for my community.

How do you aim to grow the organisation in spite of the coronavirus pandemic?

The country is in a very difficult time at the moment and we intend to continue being a beacon of hope by curating virtual content that will be beneficial and seasonal while building up towards the event. this will be factual and thought-provoking content that will enrich our perceptions and programmes that will positively shift our narrative as a community.

We hope the situation of the country will be favourable by the time we aim to host our first in-person event in Mdantsane. The theme of our first event is ‘fruitful perception’. We will have five speakers presenting on different subjects under the theme. We wanted to broaden the theme in order to cover a variety of subjects.

In your opinion, what can our generation learn from the struggle heroes in terms of leadership?

I think there are certain characteristics that make every leader unique and we have much to learn from each of them. I personally admire their persistence, humble sacrifice, creative innovation, their boldness and courage in the pursuit of a better livelihood for others, beyond themselves.

As young people today, we struggle to be consistent in our conviction because we live in a time with so much noise and we are facing many societal issues that need us to constantly refine our perspectives. I think young leaders today are making powerful strides in terms of taking up leadership spaces and changing the narrative of representation. Yet, I would still suggest that young leaders take time and weigh the amount of inner work that is important for them to be impactful and to work from the inside out.

To learn more about TEDxMdantsane, follow them on all social media platforms or visit the official TED website at www.ted.com. Watch the full ‘Youth in Leadership’ Mandela Day dialogue here and learn more on what young people think about leadership in the current day and age from the panel of young community trailblazers, one of whom was the Aspiring Future President, 2021 Nelson Mandela fellow and Activator Buhlale Buzani.



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