‘Put young voices behind youth policies’

14 June 2016 | Youth

Siyanda Mohutsiwa is a young Swazi-Botswana university student, currently studying at the University of Botswana, and is a writer and social media personality. Through her blog, Siyanda addresses a variety of issues affecting young people in Africa including identity, democracy, and culture. She started the hashtag #ifafricawasabar, which went viral, as a means to get Africans talking light-heartedly about their countries. Recently she was invited to do a Ted Talk in Amsterdam about her experiences as young writer and advocate.
Siyanda recently visited Unicef-supported adolescent and HIV programmes in Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland and Namibia, where she met and spoke to young people affected by and or working with HIV.
While on visit to Namibia and other SADC Countries, she investigated some of the key issues they face such as stigma, peer pressure, as well as important socio-economic challenges such as youth unemployment. Each visit was documented by a videographer, with the footage to be made available online, as well as on selected channels on DSTV. Siyanda also tweeted about her journey, as well as making blog entries which will be promoted on Unicef social media platforms.
When The Zone spoke to Siyanda about how she became a Unicef Special Youth Reporter, she recalled the experience saying that the relationship started through the Botswana office reaching out to her after hearing about her work online as well as locally in Botswana.
“First I was called up by Unicef Botswana to meet with the Unicef South Africa team and from there they wanted me to gauge my interests in topics relating to HIV and young people and as they say the rest is history,” Siyanda remarked,
As a self-identified social-pan Africanist, Siyanda says that the work that she will be doing for the next couple of months is very much in tune with her ideals and the work that she would love to do in her personal capacity as well.
“Most of my trip here as in the other countries that I am visiting, is centred around finding out how the young people in these countries take control of HIV/Aids prevention and treatment programmes, as well as other social issues pertaining to young people. The real journey and purpose is to listen. I am here to learn with everyone else,” which she says is what Unicef wanted.
“I am not an expert and I probably won’t be after these three months, but the experience has really been rewarding and that is something that I can take away with me after this is done with.”
Siyanda went to Swaziland in April and was in South Africa earlier this month where she visited the township of Alexandria and then came back to Windhoek.
When asked about where her social-pan Africanist identity came from she remarked that it was living between Swaziland and Botswana.
“When we moved from Swaziland to Botswana, I was very young. I was learning about my culture from the outside when I moved to Botswana, in terms of language and cultural queues. It had a very peculiar experience on me, because when I went back to Swaziland, I wasn’t Swazi anymore, I didn’t speak Siswati, but I also wasn’t completely Motswana either.
“So I became obsessed with the idea of a shared African identity. I started reading Steve Biko, and Franz Fanon who spoke about what the bigger vision of Africa should be and I believe that I am the next step in making that vision a reality by helping to take pan-Africanism from an elitist African ideology to something that can mean something to the average African, something that can benefit the average African at the grassroots level,” Siyanda shared with The Zone.
Siyanda also told The Zone that she was very interested in the fate of young Africans. She also believes that our fates are intertwined on the continent.
“If something happens in Burundi, those refugees share the consequences of the war and destruction with the ordinary people in the neighbouring countries. In that spirit it would also just make sense for us to share the language, food, culture, a shared identity.”
“The idea of social pan-Africanism for me is us sharing the successes because we share the consequences. We need to do better in sharing the successes.
“That is why my trip here is so important, because I am here to hear how Namibians are overcoming their social challenges, and how people in Alexandria in Johannesburg are some of the most disadvantaged people in a modern democracy, but they seem to be overcoming some of these challenges” she remarked.
According to Siyanda, it is important that Namibians and Batswana say what it is that they have done to be able to tackle their social and economic challenges, so that information can be contextualised and used to move these countries forward, as well as the region.
Siyanda will be giving a report on what she has learned through her travels listening to young people at a Unicef Conference later this month. In the past she has been asked to give recommendations on what it is that programmes concerning young people can do to deal with their problems better.
“One of the big things that I noticed is that we need more peer to peer audiences when we are dealing with youth issues. Unicef Swaziland had a youth conference where ten-year-olds spoke to the ministers of education, the royal family and other prominent figures. This is one of the first ways in which we solve some of the youth issues,” Siyanda remarked.
Siyanda will be going back to Botswana, and then heading off to Washington DC with a World Bank programme for one of her own working projects.
In closing Siyanda told The Zone that her message to global leaders is you cannot do anything for young people if you do not listen to young people.
“We need young people to represent themselves in matters that matter to them and this voice cannot be ignored if we are serious about the future of Africa”.
Keith Vries

Similar News


Assisting those in need

3 weeks ago - 20 November 2018 | Youth

Tunohole Mungoba With examinations in full swing, learners at Mount View High School in Okahandja Park are struggling in terms of the tools they need...

Eldorado receives refurbished computers

3 weeks ago - 20 November 2018 | Youth

Justicia Shipena and Angelina Norval The FirstRand Namibia Foundation Trust of First National Bank (FNB) handed over 10 refurbished computers to Eldorado Secondary School...

Amos Meerket children given a treat

3 weeks ago - 20 November 2018 | Youth

Elizabeth JosephThis past Friday, some learners who are a part of the Amos Meerkat project, went on a train ride to the Omeya golf course...

Two jobless graduates join forces

1 month - 06 November 2018 | Youth

Tunohole MungobaSitting at home and being idle was not an option for Linda Ndakolo and John Lifoshiwana. Both in their mid-20s, Ndakolo and Lifoshiwana became...

Youth gives me hope – Geingos

1 month - 05 November 2018 | Youth

The First Lady of Namibia, Monica Geingos, and singer and political activist Sir Bob Geldof, were honoured with the '2018 World without Aids Award' this...

Kangala’s life lessons

1 month - 30 October 2018 | Youth

Michelline NawatisesMaria Kangala has written a book that aims to serve as a guide to self-leadership, personal growth and young adulthood.“In the next three years,...

Windhoek: The city of bright lights

1 month - 30 October 2018 | Youth

Elizabeth JosephYou needed to be at the first-ever Red Bull Music Festival, title African Beats, which took place this past weekend at the Windhoek Showgrounds,...

Educating youth on renewable energy

1 month - 30 October 2018 | Youth

Justicia ShipenaThe energy ministry launched the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) at the Safari Court Hotel on 24 October.The event took...

To Russia, with love

1 month - 30 October 2018 | Youth

Yanna smith Namibians students wishing to pursue an international qualification have just come one step closer. The International University of Management (IUM) has an agreement...

From Ethindi to the Big Apple

1 month - 23 October 2018 | Youth

Tunohole MungobaAfter enduring many rejections, Fillemon Shikomba is currently working for the United Nations (UN) economic and social council at its New York headquarters.The 26-year-old...

Latest News

Children of the wind

10 hours ago | Cultural

The Kai !Akhoen Hai//om San say they are tired of being treated like “brainless” immigrants in their country of birth and have also accused government...

‘We have a plan for...

10 hours ago | Economics

The minister of public enterprises, Leon Jooste, says there are several interventions and strategies at government’s disposal to turn some of the now cash-stripped parastatals...

The thorny street kid issue

10 hours ago | Columns

A study has found that children who live on the streets are primarily driven there by poverty.It found that the majority of Windhoek street children...

South African cities short of...

10 hours ago | Economics

Susan Njanji - In the middle of the vast Avalon cemetery in Johannesburg's Soweto township, two gravediggers shovelled soil out of an old grave containing...

Man shoots ex, himself

10 hours ago | Crime

Another murder-suicide occurred over the long weekend, in which a man shot his ex-girlfriend and then himself.According to the police, 48-year-old Keib Diedrich shot Monalisa...

Tough year for mining

10 hours ago | Business

While this year has been very challenging for the mining industry, indications are that the uranium market may recover by 2022, which will result in...

Ministry opts for cheaper Etosha...

10 hours ago | Environment

The environment ministry has started reviewing the design of a predator- and elephant-proof fence around Etosha National Park to reduce the cost of construction. ...

Grasslands are paramount

10 hours ago | Agriculture

The 22nd Rangeland Forum took place at the end of November in Otjiwarongo during which sound rangeland management practices were discussed to make the livestock...

Hold the phone: Huawei mistrust...

10 hours ago | Technology

Dan MartinChina's ambitious drive to dominate next-generation 5G technology faces a sudden reality check as fears spread that telecom companies like Huawei could be proxies...

Load More