A workshop of young people in the Impendle area, near the Drakensberg range, was held on 31st August 2013, drawing on student leaders from Mantomela and Luthando High Schools. We were joined also by Philani Dladla, student leader from Dhloko High School in Umlazi, who wanted to visit those he had met at the recent conference, and Saydoon Sayed, of Religions for Peace.
There had been a light snowfall in the area overnight, and conditions were chilly but sunny, so we sat out in the sun, huddled against the wind, to avoid the cold rooms of the school. The focus was on how those present could take the lead in their commitment to a hopeful society. There were accounts of challenges to young leadership, as well as accounts of successes in breaking through. For example, one student reported her ability to form a non-romantic friendship with a boy as a breakthrough, while another spoke of being criticised and undermined for taking a formal leadership position, but choosing to handle the attacks in a confident and relaxed way.
ICON cannot always be there to support such young people, and we need to see developing a generation of young leaders who can overcome their experience of the violence of society, in its many forms, and in so doing take greater control over changes in their lives. The focus is less on training in specific skills (though some is needed); instead we work on the basis that the young leaders will themselves identify what needs to be done and what they need to achieve this. ICON’s role is largely in building networks of trust, reducing isolation and building confidence.
Some of us huddled against the wall while we talked with each other
Part of the group over lunch
Philani talking about his leadership