by Rufaro Mudimu
The 12th to 17th July 2015 are five days that represent a milestone in enke’s growth. In those five days we held the 6th annual set of enke: Forums – Forum 11 and 12 – simultaneously in Cape Town and Johannesburg. In those five days 357 people – 243 Grade 10s and 11s, 60 Igniters and Presenters, 13 volunteers, 31 speakers and panelists and 10 staff members’ – experienced the magic of the enke: Forum.
It has taken a month to decompress, reflect and evaluate what we have achieved as an organisation. When I started working at enke three years ago, I would never have imagined that it was possible to host simultaneous Forums, let alone the size of the cohort. But we did it. How? Sheer bullish determination and the belief, that anything is possible and every obstacle we’ve faced is a new opportunity to is just a word that means a new challenge. It took us years of planning, improving and iterating to get us here. It took sculpting and scheduling down to the minute details during the months prior to the Forums. And we did it!
The only sad thing about holding simultaneous Forums is that for the first time in 3 years, I missed a Forum. I was at the Cape Town Forum, hearing updates about the Johannesburg Forum in the same way that most of our supporters experience Forum – through the Twitter and Facebook updates. It was incredible to think that while I was experiencing the hustle, bustle and hard-to-put-into-words moments of the Cape Town Forum, the same thing was happening in Johannesburg. In another location, people were going through the shared experience of Forum. Experiences like witnessing how people who weren’t comfortable talking in a small group on the first day, are now able to get on stage and sing a solo to the cheers of their new friends, all of whom know what a big deal it is for them to conquer their fear.
We had inspirational speakers in both cities – in Cape Town Zakes Bantwini, Lufefe Nomjana, Pip Wheaton; and Mark Heywood, Khadija Patel, Setlogane Manchidi, and Andrew Levy in Johannesburg. Our speakers had everyone on the edge of their seats, enraptured and scribbling quickly to get their wisdom recorded. We had cool panelists – people making an impact in their fields – who came to talk about how non-conventional industries will be shaping the future of South Africa.
The moments that stand out for me, and I think for most of those who lives behind-the-scenes, are the things that have nothing to do with the plans or the curriculum. It’s the inside jokes like T.I.M. Team (Jozi) and Slaap-Tiger (Cape Town); the war cries; the discussions and arguments around dinner tables; comforting each other when things were feeling a bit rough. The night patrols in the freezing Tulbagh valley. Lizzie (the incredible manager of Waterval Conference Centre where Cape Town Forum was held) dressing up to the nines and singing to everyone on that last night. Shaira hopping up to the front of the room after a plenary session and taking a few minutes of her tea time to chat with and get to know me. The late night debriefs with the Igniters and Presenters, sharing their experiences and observations of the changes they were seeing. And more overwhelming, is the realization that at the same time, those moments were happening in Joburg.
The 12th-17th July 2015 marks the start of the journey in the Trailblazer Program for 243 Grade 10 and 11 learners who have now joined the enke family as the Trailblazer Class of 2015. It is the start of a journey in social action, of applying the skills learned at the Forum to lead the change they want to see in their communities.
Each and every one of our new Trailblazers is back in the real world . The enke: Forum is part of the real world, but its a different kind of reality where we get to understand the challenges that young people are grappling with, and those challenges and solutions created are met with unconditional support and discussed in a non-judgmental space. For our Trailblazers, the real world outside of enke is full of challenges and our focus now is to be there for them. Trailblazers have already started work on their CAPs (community action projects). Some are already doing amazing things (check out our Facebook Page for updates).
Our Trailblazer support team, led by Skhumbuzo, Vusi and Phakamile, is responding to questions on how to get started, facilitating conversations in weekly peer-to-peer Whatsapp Live Chats, and Facebook exchanges on how to make things happen. What’s happening now is what all those moments at Forum were leading to…. this is what it’s all about… the experience of creating solutions, turning ideas into reality and leading the change we want to see in our world.