My name is Lebogang Mashifane, I’m 25 years old and I live with my mother in Kwa-Thema, east of Gauteng, South Africa.
I have recently relocated from Cape Town, South Africa.
I hold a Diploma in Multimedia Technology from CPUT (Cape Peninsula University of Technology). I currently freelance as a videographer and volunteer for Inkanyiso as a researcher and writer.
The transition of living in the township of Kwa-Thema for 12 years, to living in the suburbs of Cape Town for 12 years and back to the township of Kwa – Thema again has been quite an experience. I realise how the youth’s lives seem meaningless in the township. A girl still to be a teenager already has a dented future. The extreme indulgence of sex, drugs and alcohol has resulted in teenage pregnancy, poverty, crime, ignorance and unrealised dreams.
The youth of 1976 in South Africa fought very hard, not only for themselves, but also for the generations to come. I am fortunate and forever appreciative of their blood, sweat and tears that today I can have an education in English. Institutionalised racial segregation in South Africa was officialised in the 60’s right through to the early 90’s. I embrace the freedoms that we now possess as a rainbow nation. It is almost 4 decades since the student uprising in Soweto, 38 years to be exact.
The needs and wants of the youth of that era are slightly different from those of this era, such as electricity and housing, which is still a problem today. Nowadays we also want internet access as most of the youth access internet from their cell phones. The youth of 1976 wanted freedom from the oppressors, who were the invading Europeans. They also wanted their land back from the oppressors’ forceful ownership and wanted to not be taught in the language of the oppressor. Amongst those wants there were many other wants but the above mentioned were the main focal points.
I believe in liberation and equal rights for all. I want to have a shelter that would house people of all ages that are abused and homeless. I believe that this action will decrease some of the issues that we are faced with in the universe. The shelter would also serve as a job opportunity and/ or an educational opportunity. People will be able to learn as well as find employment, as the shelter would have a nursery for those with green fingers. The produce will be served as food for the shelter and excess sold at fruit and vegetable stores. There would also be opportunities of different crafts such as bead work, sculpturing, painting, etc. Art will be explored in all its forms, benefiting the people and maintaining the shelter.
I would also like to have my own media company which will also have the shelter residents as workers. The shelter residents will choose according to their interests as to which field they would like to explore. A clinic will also be part of the shelter as all the people that come to the shelter for assistance will most likely need counselling and medical attention for their health. As residents get better and heal from their various ailments, they would become peer workers, getting tarining – according to their interests – to run the clinic along with all other fields. There will also be a school which would teach people of all ages that need a basic education. Those who can qualify to apply for external educations such as college or university can do so and be assisted in getting bursaries from various companies.
Security is vital to every property therefore the shelter would also have a security company. It would also be a service offered to companies that require security. The shelter residents that would work in this field would undergo a criminal check as this is very crucial for this field. The same would apply for all other positions.
At the moment I am trying to research about the township that I live in as an adult with ideas, and no longer a child. I want to start an art movement that will also be a space for young people to find solace and refuge. This will be a space where poetry recitation, painting, drawing, singing, dancing, acting etc, will take place. We will also allow the members of this art movement to share their pain and frustrations. Some of the youth could be succumbing to drugs because they have no support at home and no one to talk to about their issues. Some end up as sex slaves or living with someone they are not in love with, because they feel the need to be loved.
My mother, as a parent to a gay daughter and her friend who is a mother to a gay son want to start a support group for parents who have gay children. I’m also helping my mother with preparations for this movement. I value this movement and I want to see it succeed. This is such a great idea to all family members including the entire community and fighting homophobia which is still a massive problem in South Africa.
I want to see myself as part of a great influence to change this world for the better. I want to see myself living in a world where no one will have to be out in the streets on cold and rainy nights. A world where no one has to be hungry, lonely, illiterate or with shattered dreams. Right now I am stuck with big ideas and no resources to make them happen. It kills me every day to see people suffer and others gloat about to the very same suffering people.
I believe in helping people that also try to help themselves. Other people just want to be spoon-fed, they need to get a wake up call. It is about time we rose together as a collective to empower each other for a better life now and forever.
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