YOUTH leadership should not be a reserve for challenging times but should be consistent and cultivated from a young age.
This was the message from former Stellenbosch University (SU) student and youth leader Farai Mubaiwa, speaking at the youth leadership event held at Stellenbosch University Museum recently.
The event, in partnership with the Chair of Historical Trauma and Transformation, sought to bring together students, academics and members of the general public in conversation about youth leadership in challenging times. But Mubaiwa said that the focus should be not only on challenging times but that youth leadership should be cultivated throughout.
She said that, on a continent where the majority of citizens are youths, participation of this group in leadership roles should go without saying. Young people should be encouraged to play more leadership roles in every context that they find themselves in, she said.
“There is always something broken in our society. When you see it, step up and fix it,” she said to an audience packed with students, who have come to know her leadership achievements both as a student and as a post-university citizen.
Mubaiwa held various leadership positions when she was a student, including being Speaker of the Student Parliament and a member of Sonop House Committee. She was also a member of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC). On completion of her undergraduate studies in Accounting, she pursued her master’s degree in Political Economy of Emerging Markets at King’s College London.
She is now a co-founder of Africa Matters, a youth-led non-profit organisation aiming to empower African youth through capacity building in areas of leadership and social entrepreneurship. Mubaiwa urged the youth to take part and endeavour to make a difference not only in politics but also in academia, the corporate world and everywhere else that they found themselves.
In conversation with Mubaiwa was another former SU student leader Nomzamo Ntombela, who became known as the first black SRC Chairperson when she took the reins in 2017 during her final year of undergraduate studies.
Ntombela will soon undertake her PhD studies in the Michigan State University (MSU) African History PhD Program in the United States of America.
Ntombela completed her Cultural Anthropology honours studies at SU and did not think that she would be accepted to a PhD programme before acquiring a master’s degree but she was pleasantly surprised when she was invited to send an application, which was recently announced as successful.
Speaking about her leadership experience at SU, Ntombela said that she came to realise that challenges associated with being a leader did not pertain only to leading people but also to dealing with toxic environments and institutional culture.
“Why is it difficult for a black student to thrive in higher education more than 20 years after the dawn of democracy?” she asked.
Ntombela said that she also realised that those who had been in leadership roles before her were often not willing to be challenged, which made life difficult.
Ntombela’s acceptance to the PhD programme came after she took part in the Ubuntu Dialogues Project in 2018, a partnership project between SU and MSU funded by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation to foster international collaboration.
Left to right: Mr Bongani Mgijima, Ms Nomzamo Ntombela, Ms Farai Mubaiwa and Dr Mosa Phadi.
By Noloyiso Mtembu
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