By Mxolisi Phakathi
There is a lot of talent amongst the youth in rural Zululand. To encourage and develop this talent, Thembokwakhe Shosi and I, Mxolisi Phakathi, recently formed the Ubambano Youth Organisation. Thembokwakhe is a Civil Engineer and I will graduate from the University of Zululand with a B.Ed degree.
We both come from very poor backgrounds but were determined to strive and improve ourselves. We wanted to be role models in our community to inspire the youth and show them they need not remain trapped by their poverty.
We live in a small village in Fuleni, on the southern border of the iMfolozi Game Reserve. The area is known as KwaMthethwa, home of the Mthethwa clan, and lies just north-west of Richards Bay. King Shaka grew up Fuleni, where he and his mother lived with his uncle. It is an area with a rich history and culture that we want to promote.
Ubambano means togetherness. We believe that if the youth and their parents come together, we can achieve great things. Our vision is to promote academic excellence and impart knowledge amongst the youth of Fuleni to improve our community. We aim to provide financial assistance to those who want to further their studies at Universities or through Technical Vocational Education and Training (FET) colleges, as well as helping non-matriculants to obtain occupational certificates.
We formed Ubambano on 8 March 2016, and already we have over 150 members. We are receiving lots of support from parents who are happy to see the youth involved in activities that keep them away from drugs and alcohol.
I was inspired by one of my teachers and by Phila Ndimande, a leading activist in our community who is fighting to stop Ibutho Coal’s proposed open cast coal mine. Everyone thinks that a mine brings jobs but we see how nearby Somkhele mine and Zululand Anthracite Colliery have taken people’s land and water and left behind suffering, even more poverty, and poisonous dust.