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“Activism is the rent I pay for living on planet earth” – Alice Walker

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 - 13:52

This quote was the campaign speech that moved a room with more than 100 youth leaders to decide on the structure of a new era of youth activism in Zimbabwe. Coming at a time when youth solidarity power is needed the most, I welcome the launch of the Zimbabwean Activista Chapter. My name is Thando Gwinji and I am the recently elected National Coordinator of Activista Zimbabwe. As a young activist I am honored and looking forward to leading the creation of a strong network of young people that will bring forth positive development in Zimbabwe. 

When young leaders from all walks of life take time off to gather and put heads together to form a social movement it can only mean fireworks. I was impressed by the congregation of the minds and passions to contribute to the growth of a people at the first ever Annual Activista Conference in Zimbabwe. I am glad to have been an active member of a group that laid the ground work for an initiative that has just reached its starting point. Activista is Action Aid’s global youth network that has been bringing forth visible change through social movements across the globe. Its presence in Zimbabwe means an escalation of already existing and new youth development programs. The launch of Activista Zimbabwe is exiting for young leaders whose efforts were scattered all over the country uncelebrated as it is bringing them all to one table.

With all the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe represented, the nature of diversity in the conference was beyond geographical location but represented quite a number of affiliations and issues as well, inclusivity and independence was clearly spelt out. Though youth participation is increasingly being encouraged in Zimbabwe, different kinds of support for youth led initiatives is still lagging behind and Activista Zimbabwe will exist to close these gaps through meaningful movement building. The launch of Activista is a powerful tool in the hands of young people especially ahead of the 2018 elections in promoting meaningful youth participation in electoral processes. It’s an exciting platform to come together to learn, take action and grow.

I identify myself as a human rights activist, a feminist, peace practitioner and an active global citizen who is currently working with Youth for Innovation Trust. Being a young lady based in Bulawayo, activism has never felt more significant given a space to consolidate efforts of young activism under the human rights based approaches. Within my 5 years’ experience working within the civil society, it has become apparent that development workers need to take advantage of the youth bulge to push forth sustainable agendas. Placing young people at the center of development processes has seen successful tax justice campaigns across Africa. Acknowledging that young people are leaders today for a better tomorrow, the Inaugural Activista Zimbabwe team is geared to lead change.

Looking at the future of Activista Zimbabwe I foresee an aggressive yet well informed and a considerate approach to changing the status of youth in Zimbabwe. The purpose is combating poverty and injustices through creating safe spaces for growth and interaction. Scaling up on the already existing initiatives to create safe spaces for women and seek tax justice, Activista has a mandate to improve youth participation in electoral processes as well as pursue pressing youth issues such as menstrual hygiene amongst many others. The power is in the hands of young people to take a stand and be the change that they want to be using this awesome platform as a catalyst. It is exciting that every province gets a chance to champion its own unique issues and build its own youth leadership. Hence, there is going to be intense mobilization in the coming months at province level and this will capture the interests of all and leave no youth behind.