By: Paul MaboteAbstract:
Phathuxolo, who led Pheli Youth Information Hub in Atteridgeville, is today part of a multi-country exchange programme that is facilitated by an international organization called Sage Net (South African German Network). The organization is committed to facilitating intercultural exchange between the two countries.
“A prophet is without honor in his home country, among his own people.” Although it carries a wealth of truth, this popular biblical phrase narrowly omits to make mention of “the exceptional prophets.” Prophets who perform such tremendous and miraculous works in their home communities, that their impact radiates to far and foreign lands. It is to these foreign lands that these chosen prophets are called. Where, in the grandest manner, they are honored and revered for their expert knowledge, skills and talents.
2016 Activator Phathuxolo Ndzimande is not a prophet. He is an ambitious young man who grew up in the busy township of Atteridgeville, Pretoria. Whose work and passion in the youth development space have awarded a special opportunity of working and living in Germany. Phathuxolo, who led Pheli Youth Information Hub in Atteridgeville, is today part of a multi-country exchange programme that is facilitated by an international organization called Sage Net (South African German Network). The organization is committed to facilitating intercultural exchange between the two countries.
What is your role in the programme?
Ndzimande: “I work 5 days a week at a youth development center here in Germany and my role is to develop and manage learning programmes for youth aged between 6 and 28. We dissect various global issues pertaining, in particular, to the 2 countries.” Ndzimande says that the societal issues which exist in Germany are in stark contrast to those which exist in South Africa. He says that while poverty in South Africa remains an ugly reality, in Germany poverty is practically non-existent. Germany does face other issues, however, like high rates of refugees and asylum seekers, racism and climate change.
What have been some of the highlights and challenges in your journey so far?
Phathuxolo: “One of the things I find commendable in this part of the world is the involvement of youth in the occupation of key positions. When they say ‘for the youth, by the youth, here that is exactly what they mean. It is not like in South Africa where the youth is led by senior citizens. Another thing which I completely envy is the ease and convenience of the German public transportation system. It is not gate-kept like in South Africa – in fact, it is a common sight here to see people commuting to and from work or school using bicycles.”
“I will not lie, though,” he adds “I do get homesick sometimes. I miss eating pap and maotwana and spending leisure time with my friends and family. It was especially hard having to spend Easter by myself, I would have spent it as usual with family, if I were home. Being so far from home can take a toll on one’s mental health. Another challenge is the language barrier that exists, which makes it quite difficult to socialize.
How do you plan to use what you have learned during your stay in Germany to empower your fellow countrymen upon your return? How can you help other young people access similar opportunities?
Phathuxolo: “I have already started sharing live videos on social media about similar exchange programmes for young people who would like to access earning and learning opportunities abroad. There is actually high demand of foreign workforce here at the moment, and I have committed to bringing these opportunities closer to home by sharing them with my fellow South African young people.”
Over and above, I would really encourage young people to travel as much and as far as possible. There is a lot of value in experiencing different cultures, people and places. I believe that South African people are very intelligent, innovative driven. We are a great people, and it is about time we took our greatness to the world!!”