#DayOfTheGirl: activists who are making waves through web-based forums

Founding members of Blackboard Africa, from left: Mpumi Sinxoto, Zingisa Socikwa and Amonge Sinxoto
Founding members of Blackboard Africa, from left: Mpumi Sinxoto, Zingisa Socikwa and Amonge Sinxoto
Image: Supplied

Girls all around the world are doing great things and we're here to celebrate our own. Six years ago, the United Nations (UN) declared 11 October, International Day of the Girl Child.  The initiative was put in place to shine a spotlight on, and address the challenges, girl children face everyday.

The theme this year is 'With her: A skilled girl force', which is why we're applauding four young activists who are doing just that.

Teen Tate is a web-based forum that focuses on educating the youth on racism, tribalism and xenophobia. The owner is 17-year-old Kamdi Okonjo who curates news and content from the continent about these three issues.

Blackboard Africa is another platform that is an all-female team lead by Zingiswa Socikwa and sisters Amonge and Mpumi Sinxoto.  Their "non-profit movement" aims to provide a space for youth to discuss and find solutions to issues they face in their communities.

Both Teen Tate and Blackboard Africa have dedicated their digital footprint to make a difference in their communities and the world at large. Not only do they start conversations on these issues but they are also actively involved in playing a role to find solutions.

Founder of Teen Tate, Kamdi Okonjo
Founder of Teen Tate, Kamdi Okonjo
Image: Supplied

What inspired you to start Teen Tate?

KO: I actually had a series of encounters that pushed me to create this platform, and it's very funny that they happened right after each other. When I was fourteen or fifteen years old I was bike riding with my sisters. This huge silver van approached us and we were at a roundabout. Now when this van got to the end of the roundabout first, it came straight towards us. So I had to pull my sister off of her bike because it hit her bike and then the man proceeded to wind down his window, put his middle finger up and said the n-word to us.

Years later, I was watching the news and I saw a series of xenophobic attacks against so many different people and I was like OK, I really want to contribute to solving these issues.

By talking to different teenagers about their views, I was able to understand where they came from and that we can all work together in solving these issues.

What is the focal point of Teen Tate?

KO: My role is basically to speak to other teenagers about what is going on in Africa today. I'm really into politics, I'm very interested in the news and I really like empowering teenagers and giving them a voice.

Is Teen Tate only focused on discussing racism, tribalism and xenophobia in South Africa?

KO: When teenagers go on the Teen Tate website, basically, they'll see many new stories from Nigeria, from Ghana, from Rwanda just from many African countries.

What challenges have you faced?

KO: I would say finding the confidence to start something like this. I knew that some people wouldn't really be interested or wouldn't feel that it was necessary but to my experiences I felt as if it was very necessary.

What advice would you give to other youth who want to tackle issues that they in their communities?

KO: Just do it. If you feel very passionate about it and it's something that you really want to do then do it. Every single person is important in creating change, if that is your calling. Who else is going to do it?

Where do you see Teen Tate in the next year?

KO: I can see summits being held where teenagers just come and speak about these issues. I can also see it becoming group session where other teenagers form groups and just speak about these things at schools, at home or inside themselves and just initiate these conversations instead of keeping them inside.

Teen Tate can be accessed on the web at teentate.org and you can follow their social media at @teentateafrica (Instagram) @TateAfrica (Twitter) and Teen Tate Africa on Facebook. 

Blackboard Africa founders, Amonge Sinxoto, and Zingisa Socikwa
Blackboard Africa founders, Amonge Sinxoto, and Zingisa Socikwa
Image: Instagram/Blackboard_Africa

What are your roles at Blackboard Africa and what inspired the movement?

MS: There's the three of us running Blackboard Africa; there's Amonge Sinxoto she's still in high school and she's doing her matric right now. She's very word-oriented so she's more on that side in terms of curating content. I manage everything, so I'm more of the managing director in terms of managing the business and managing the two girls. Zingisa is also a director but she's focused on the content side in terms of multimedia content.

How do you use your platform to discuss your respective issues?

ZS: With the website, the idea is that people can come and share their stories. If there is a film, an article, an opinion piece that you want to share we urge young people to send through their stuff. In terms of our events, they are posted on our social media and that's how we gain a lot of our traction to keep people up to date on what we're doing. We are trying to build a Blackboard Army which is the end goal.

What has Blackboard Africa taught you about leadership?

MS: Leadership is servitude. It's always about the greater good of everybody else as opposed to yourself; the late nights, the not sleeping, the running around always having something to do because you want to serve others. I think in terms of leadership that's what I'm trying to push. If you come with a heart of servitude it makes you a great leader.

What challenges have you faced?

ZS: In your heads it's like wow, you guys have done a lot but, we're like wow, we still have so much more to do. Our vision is so much bigger than what people are actually seeing. I think that's been a major challenge. I really can't complain too much, God has literally just been opening doors.

Where do you see Blackboard in the next year?

MS: It's all about collaborations and helping out one another and meeting up with other NGOs and NPCs that are doing something similar to our vision.

ZS: We also want to have volunteers in different places, people doing activations in their own space and in their own communities, not just in South Africa but other countries in the continent.

To connect to Blackboard Africa you can visit their website at blackboardafrica.com or visit their social media at @blackboard_africa (Instagram), @BlackBoardAfrica (Twitter) and Blackboard Africa (Facebook).