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New voice for the youth on the horizon

Tebogo Ditshego, Ditshego Media CEO and founder of the South African Youth Forum.
Tebogo Ditshego, Ditshego Media CEO and founder of the South African Youth Forum.
Image: Supplied

Public Relations guru Tebogo Ditshego, 34, is a beacon of hope thanks to an initiative that hopes to tackle the challenges faced by SA's youth.

The South African Youth Forum (Sayf) aims to position itself as the voice of the youth. It was launched in Johannesburg at the weekend.

Ditshego said Sayf aimed to hit the ground running by tackling key issues. Top of their agenda is to address and propose tangible solutions for economic inequalities, gender equality, access to quality education, as well as recreational facilities in townships and rural areas, technological and industrial development and the primary and high school curriculums.

“The youth need attention because our economy is not inclusive of them. They are neglected and face a lot of challenges,” Ditshego said.

A year ago, when he was working on a social media training programme in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, and after engaging with the youth, he realised there was something missing.

“We don’t intend to be just another youth organisation, but we will work closely with the people we are assisting,” he said.

He started his company Ditshego Media in 2011. Three years later, he was listed as one of Forbes Magazine’s top 30 African Entrepreneurs under the age of 30.

Gender equality is also at the centre of the organisation's efforts.

"Women have shown to be less prone to the temptation of corruption and self-serving leadership. We intend to fight for women to be treated fairly. Influencing policy is important,” Ditshego said.

As part of his projects, he wants to deal with economic equality.

“My understanding is that out of 376 JSE-listed companies, only 161 have reported their BEE compliance status. This is dangerous because it’s clear they are not compliant. We will push for these companies to get fines for 25% of their profits. We must also name and shame.

“We are a post-war economy and there is a need for redress with a lot of issues. We still have a situation where wages are unequal,” Ditshego said.

He said another aspect they are looking at is access to quality basic education.

"Our vision is to influence that government employees take their children to schools in townships. This will revolutionise how they prioritise funds,” he said.

No work has been done yet, except for ongoing social media training.

In 2016 he wrote a fiction book "Kasi Nerd", inspired by his upbringing in Kagiso, Soweto.

“It’s a story of the difficulties that young people face in townships, especially if they want to turn their lives around. This boy is trying to read a book and get a good night's sleep while his friends are in the streets dancing to music.

"A lot of people can relate to this type of life, trying to keep motivated in a hopeless place,” Ditshego said.

With this book he wanted to reassure the youth that even if they are not deemed "cool", they must not chase approval but rather be confident in who they are.

“Lacking self-esteem can block you from realising your potential. I’ve always been aware of this because a teacher from my primary schooling helped me in honing my public speaking skills, that gave me so much confidence, so we need to pass this on,” he said.

His online book club, "Read a book SA", is well received on social media with over 30,000 Twitter followers. Through this initiative, he encourages youth to read books and also creates access to reading material. 

His organisation is already helping young people to create curriculum vitae, improve their social media branding and find jobs.

There are currently 25 people from across the country working on the forum.

"Most of them are volunteering. We don't have sponsorship yet," he said.