Heritage day is celebrated in South Africa on the 24th of September every year. The underlying significance of the holiday is that it celebrates the rich, vibrant, and diverse cultures of all South Africans. The national holiday was instituted by the erstwhile post-apartheid democratic government, which sought to create a platform where all cultures in the rainbow could be celebrated and cherished as equal and important. A secondary aim of the holiday was to create a national identity and culture through acknowledgement and celebration of all cultures and ethnicities as components of the rainbow nation.
An inherent feature of indigenous African cultures is leadership; regardless of the ethnic grouping to which a person belongs, leadership is a consistent feature. These leaders are usually in the form of a royal family or chieftaincy, where the role of leading is bestowed upon an individual by virtue of their bloodline, birth order and other factors. Leadership however transcends beyond the “head/royal family” in ethnic groups, individual families and communities have their own types of leaders based on a variety of factors. Most of these determining factors for leadership are either age, the fulfilment of a rite of passage or the attainment of certain social standing.
The progress made in many ethnic communities and families is usually hinged upon the vision and authority of these leaders. They shape the trajectory of the past present and future, majority of these leaders are taught to lead by being understudies to their predecessors. Even though the concept of leadership has always formed part of the cultural heritage of all ethnic groupings, however it has been consistently viewed as a role of a select few in society. Culture is not immune to the effects of time and change, civilization and democracy have had a profound effect on indigenous cultures.
It is long overdue that the conceptualisation of leadership undergoes serious transformation in our communities, ethnic groups and tribes. The socio-economic challenge faced by South Africa requires that all citizens especially the youth are equipped with sustainable and ethical leadership skills in order to tangibly transform society for the better. It is imperative that general concepts of leadership are taught and inculcated in our communities, schools and tribes. These concepts must not hinge upon age, sex or rites of passage. The generic nature of these concepts must be able to transcend some of the barriers that are present in South African communities in terms of race, class and gender whilst also taking in the overarching tribal feature, it must seek to unite all citizens behind the unitary goal of building a better country.
The 10-year anniversary of ACTIVATE! Change Drivers provides the ideal opportunity to reflect on the role played by the organization in inculcating a heritage of generic social leadership in South African communities. The foundation and legacy that has been created by ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is inspirational and the work implemented by activators has set the tone for creating a genuine and organic transformation in communities with regard to the manner in which leadership is viewed and considered. The network has been successful in imparting leadership skills and developing over 4325 young people across the country. These young people are now successful entrepreneurs, activists and trailblazers in the public and private sectors who continue to engage and develop other young people.
Over past the decade ACTIVATE! Change Drivers has continued to be at forefront of youth advocacy and skill and leadership development. ACTIVATE! Change Drivers has contributed to the shaping of various policy documents and spearheaded activism and protests against regressive policies that only seek to reverse the gains of democracy and equality. ACTIVATE! Change Drivers has proven beyond doubt that their programmes and leadership skills development are of the highest quality by appointing a CEO and the Network Programme Director and several programme managers that Joined ACTIVATE! Change Drivers as young people to lead the lead network.
The leadership skills to tangibly transform the nation for the better need to be developed, and the youth must be at the forefront of this development. It is imperative that the decade-long legacy of ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is utilized as a blueprint and guide in creating a heritage of sustainable and capable leadership. ACTIVATE! Change Drivers has contributed tangibly to various sectors of the country such as Health, Youth Economic Participation, Literacy, Active Citizenry and Interconnectedness and Inclusivity through their Big 5 campaign launched in 2018.
As the Heritage day celebrations ensure the primary focus of young people across the country should be to question the type of legacy that the coming generation will inherit from them. In the same breath, it’s imperative that the youth devise a means of creating sustainable methods of addressing the socio-economic problems which plague their communities. Leaders leave stable legacies and build a heritage of leadership development for the coming generations, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers has built a formidable army of leaders spanning across the country and in different sectors. Activators! Poses the necessary skill set, influence and leadership acumen to champion and spearhead a wave of community transformation that places sustainable and ethical leadership as the foundation upon which South African communities are built, therefore activating a legacy of credible leadership for the future and creating a new heritage!
JR Sebastian is a young man that has dedicated most of his life to the pursuit of Social justice. He is an avid reader and skilled writer, he is most passionate with regards to debunking dominant social narratives and agitating for equality which transcends beyond race, gender, religion and culture. He spends most of his time as a Ghostwriter. He spent a considerable amount of time participating as a student activist. JR Sebastian was a member of the editorial team of the Red Spark Journal and Moithuti fortnightly online journal for SASCO. He has presented in various institutions of higher learning on topics ranging from curriculum change, free education and social justice. He currently serves in the National structure of a relatively new philanthropic youth empowerment organization called the Global Youth Parliament (GYP-SA). JR Sebastian is passionate about topics centred on inequalities bred by class, gender and race. He spends his time spare time playing board games, and watching movies/series about Vampires. He despises unkind and unteachable spirits and has a profound appreciation of the people that continue to make sacrifices in order to make the world a better and more sustainable environment.