In most ACTIVATE! sessions, gatherings, Facebook pages, WhatsApp groups and even informal meetings, there’s always a question posed: “Why doesn’t ACTIVATE! opt to be a political party?” or a suggestion of “let’s rather be a political party”. These suggestions or questions are not normally based on a true sense of a political party, but are based on Activators’ immeasurable love and attachment to the network that they feel as Activators on the ground. They feel the programme should be a driver of national discourse. It is triggered by Activators valuing each other’s clarity of thought and their innovative solution to challenges facing young people on the ground. Some went as far as suggesting that the ACTIVATE! programme should be made a compulsory gap year program as it has capacity to sharpen or widen the mind of young people and planting the seed of patriotism.
Thembinkosi “Professor” Sithole, a 2013 Activator and a teacher by profession, thinks that the ACTIVATE! first year programme would be useful if it was a gap year course for all grade 12 graduates. “I feel it shouldn’t be just like an academic year at tertiary where you count modules you’ve got in the bag without guarantees what the end result (qualification) would give you. That gap year would be very useful if each person would state their goals then be given support on how to get started in working on those goals. For example some would like to start their own businesses, a step-by-step support can then be given on how to get paperwork for registration, proposals and the like done. So the year would be given to those who present clear goals for their future and for which ACTIVATE! can provide support”, he said.
Alex Khoza, 2013 Activator, Law graduate and one of founding participants of ACTIVATE! Community Development Course who Is known by Activators for his passion and love for youth engagements said that it must be compulsory for all grade 12 learners to go through the ACTIVATE! training programme like the Life Orientation subject. The subject could be titled “Good Citizenship”.
Using the same lenses management of ACTIVATE! responded appropriately by introducing a project within the Network Connect portfolio called “Stations”, coordinated by Activator Nonkululeko Hlongwane. These stations are places where youth can meet and drive change. Nonkululeko was on a stations tour from the 2nd to 9th May 2016, to ignite a flame and passion of change to station heads as well as assessing the progress of stations around the country. In her visit to Free State the stations simply said that “Stations are the basic units of the ACTIVATE! Network and pillars of existence as they give life to network’s campaigns on the ground. They are for every young person who believes in the positive power of young people”. These stations will be headed by both Activators and non-Activators and this will fulfil many Activators wishes that such programs [as ACTIVATE!] are needed and necessary to any young person in the country. “Our greatest learnings come from connections, human contact, and dialogue. Every theory, formula, system, structure and invention has been influenced by human interaction”, explains Nonkululeko on the power of these stations. Nonkululeko says the stations are created to spark dialogue among young people on matters they feel passionate about. “The idea around stations was to encourage young people to create safe platforms of interaction and then guide and nurture an idea or thinking that develops in those spaces”, she added.
In the midst of violent protests around the country many Activators think that stations will breed a new form of innovative revolution were young people develop a culture of speaking about issues. Alex Khoza thinks that since ACTIVATE! stations are there to play a role in building responsible citizens. “They have potential to minimize the number of strikes and destroying of our resources”, he adds.
Stations will also play role in coming with solutions around the problems facing the country, particularly on education. Northwest stations manager, Activator Thabiso Motlakase said that North West will use these stations to plan thoroughly on taking some of these issues head-on. “We are using the stations as plenary platforms and we aim to open it for the afternoon classes for grade 12s, because currently we have been having Saturday classes for Maths and Science. We now plan to run it throughout the week and all the learners that need extra classes can visit the station after school or the library, depending on their arrangement with us.
The leaders in all stations are taking the leading role in making things happen in their communities. “I don’t feel as though I am leading the project. More than anything I am guided by these change drivers and we all deliver on the needs that arise in stations and all the decisions taken are informed by young people, just as all these stations are initiated and run by them”, remarked Hlongwane in appreciation of the amazing effort demonstrated by station heads in creating better conditions for their communities.