Thokozani: Rebel with a cause

Name: Thokozani Zuke
Community Issue: Youth Development
Hometown: Durban, KwaZulu-Nata

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Not everybody who applies gets the opportunity to attend the enke: Forum. The majority of those who do have been recommended by teachers or community members who have seen their potential to be great leaders; as young people wanting to make a positive change in their community. Thokozani from Durban, was not one of those people. In fact, his referral to the Progranmwas not meant to yield any positive results, instead says one teacher, “at least there will be peace in the school for those few days while he is away”.

The power of enke: Forum is best demonstrated through such stories. Sometimes Trailblazers are the rebels, the ones labelled as trouble makers. Thokozani explains the impact of the experience, “through the sessions that focused on values, vision and passion, I realized that I was a leader without a vision or values who influenced other students to drive my own personal agenda and it was time that I changed that”.

Prior to coming to enke: Forum Thokozani describes himself as a someone wanting positive change but using strikes, disobedience and violence to influence others. At enke he learned there were other means of getting his voice heard and this was the beginning of more inspired responses to the problems he saw.

With his first community action project (CAP) Thokozani wanted to raise awareness of issues that affected them. Issues such as school dropout, HIV/AIDS and drug abuse. However, he first had to convince his peers that violence and striking were not the solution to getting heard or for positive results. He remembers a day when he was jeered off the school stage because he tried to promote action through non-violence. “Actions speak louder than words, say what you mean and walk the talk” this is the motto he lives by and encourages the youth to also live by as well.

Another CAP, ‘Iziko lamagama and Ziqhaje ngolimi’ encouraged young people to be proud of their mother tongue while creating awareness about social issues. Four years later the CAP is still being run by his friends who make a living out from the project. Recently, three Zulu dancers performed in Australia a poem titled “uMdali akalenzanga iphutha ngawe” – written by Mfanafuthi Shandu, one of the participants who had attended a disability awareness programme hosted by Thokozani’s project – went on to be recorded and was frequently played by taxi drivers in Manzimtoti during the awareness program.

Three CAPs later, Thokozani is still utilizing all his resources to make a positive impact and bring about change. He is a Coordinator for a GOLD Peer Education programme and studying BA Education through UNISA. He is also Chairperson of the Zulu Kingdom Youth Development, and a founding member of the  Thembakahle care centre; focusing on NGO development. In 2014, he returned to enke: Make Your Mark as an Igniter.

When he reflects on his achievements during high school, he’s proud of what his CAPs were able to achieve and how he was able to reinvent his approach to social action. “When I get up in the morning and see Sidelile High School students in their uniforms and bags, I nod and say that’s my MARK”.

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