The Young Communicators Awards empower our leaders of tomorrow

Victor Mecoamere

Victor Mecoamere

Youngsters need a channel to ventilate, but available avenues and platforms which enable and enhance their self-expression are either scarce or nonexistent.

This need is now being adequately fulfilled by Anglo American, Sowetan and the national and provincial education departments through the long-running Young Communicators Awards, which are a youth development project of the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation.

These awards empower pupils in grades 11 and 12 with good writing, speaking and conversational skills in English to take control of their lives and make a sound contribution to their communities.

Issues or topics presented in prepared and impromptu speeches in Mpumalanga, Free State, Northern Cape and North West between March and April this year displayed the huge amount of social, political, economic and sociological concerns young minds are constantly grappling with - and the great extent to which the youth of today are boldly attempting to fathom and recommend solutions.

These have included sexuality, death, racism, poverty in relation to crime and vice versa, money and its evil roots, premarital sex, domestic violence, young girls and boys in confused, and confusing relationships and an analytical and critical appraisal of cracks in the current democratic dispensation.

Teachers, who play pivotal roles of mentors, coaches and motivators, help the pupils prepare for the contests.

A key component of the competition is the distribution and conducting of pre-contest workshops for both teachers and pupils, which are run by representatives of the Model United Nations SA, who are public speaking trainers and organisers of other public speaking contests at universities, colleges and schools.

The competition's three top winners in 2006 were Asanda Shabangu, 17, from Lilyfontein College in East London, Eastern Cape, who walked away with a R30000 tertiary education bursary; Eduan van der Westhuizen, 18, of Limpopo, and Feziwe Nthali, 15, from Mpumalanga, who came second and third respectively and received R20000 and R15000.

The competition is open to all pupils whose first language is not English, but have a good command of the language.

Emerging public speakers, who have qualified for the national finals of the 2007 Sowetan and Anglo American Young Communicators Awards, are Nokwanda Mkhwanazi of North West, Marine Opperman of Northern Cape, Mpumalanga's Sibusiso Khoza, and Star Khulu of the Free State.

The last four heats are to be held in Polokwane, Limpopo, on May 5; Worcester, Western Cape, on May 12; Durban, KwaZulu- Natal, on May 15; Soweto, Gauteng, on May 19; and East London in Eastern Cape on May 26. The finals will take place in Johannesburg on June 9.

YOUNG COMMUNICATORS: North West winners Gomolemo Masibi from Danville Secondary School and Donett Havenga from Grenswag High School, who were joint third; first runner-up Tshiamo Legoale from Bethel High School, and overall winner, Nokwanda Mkhwanazi from Sol Plaatjie Secondary School.