SOME 50 community members, mostly youngsters, attended the Sowetan Dialogues at the Ehlanzeni FET Collage in Nelspruit on 25 April 2014. Hosted with Brand South Africa, the Sowetan Dialogues bring together leaders and communities to discuss issues that affect the community and contribute to nation-building and civic pride.
The Nelspruit session centred on leadership and how residents could use positive thinking to rise above their circumstances.
The panel discussions leaders were: Bonolo Ramokhele, executive director at investment company LeoFortis; Roy Makwakwa, a manager in the Ehlanzeni District executive mayor’s office; Ntokozo Majola, provincial manager (Mpumalanga) for the Small Enterprise Development Agency; and Sandile Mabuza, executive secretary to the interim council, University of Mpumalanga.
Ramokhele said that leadership starts within the community; “Leadership starts within your community. It also doesn’t need to have a monetary value behind it.”
He added that poverty should never define the type of person one becomes as it’s “just a financial point in your life”.
Ramokhele advised the audience that there is no need to “play small”, saying, “Leadership is not demonstrated when you are a billionaire; it begins by doing what you can do when you can, wherever you can.”
Makwakwa said: “The winning formula in life is the acquisition of positive thoughts.”
He added that thoughts become actions and that nothing good comes from being negative; he encouraged the young people at the dialogue to see bad situations as challenges to improve their circumstances, and themselves.
He said, “If the panellists sitting here today allowed ourselves to be defined by our circumstances, we would not be where we are. We cannot allow ourselves to be trapped by the past. We must help ourselves, we must play our part. A positive mind is essential to achieve one’s potential.”
Majola said: “You mould your own character and determine your future regardless of your background.”
Long walk to freedom
She encouraged the audience to read former president, Nelson Mandela’s self-penned autobiography Long Walk to Freedom to understand where South Africa comes from.
“Leadership is not determined by titles and before one becomes a leader, one should be able to manage oneself – and lead by example,” she said.
Mabuza said education and entrepreneurship can free individuals and communities. He advised the audience to try their hands at entrepreneurship to create jobs for themselves, rather than look for jobs that aren’t available.
The dialogue concluded with panellists and audience members chatting informally, and the youngsters receiving information on securing funding to study further.