The first phase of FutureLife-Now! is drawing to an end. Phase 2, which will commence in July this year, will build on the youth agency and leadership work commenced in Phase 1. Phase 2 will introduce new and innovative interventions in the 10 schools in Zimbabwe; these will be scaled up over time to the additional 30 schools to be added to the programme. One of the new elements that aims to develop youth leadership for service among young people in our communities is the Ubuntu Youth Leaders’ Programme, run in partnership with Instituto Padre António Vieira (IPAV).
“Ubuntu is about a community coming together to help one another.” Paul Anthony Pierce (Former American professional basketball player)
Ubuntu is an African philosophy that places emphasis on being human through other people. It is succinctly reflected in the phrase “I am because of who we all are.” This perfectly fits the work that FutureLife-Now! schools have been doing in their communities. Building on from Care and Support for Teaching and Learning (CSTL), the schools have been working towards turning themselves into centres of care, support and development in their communities.
In Zimbabwe, and in preparation for FutureLife-Now! Phase 2, MIET AFRICA, in partnership with IPAV, has already conducted the first instalment of ubuntu training. On a beautiful morning in March 2023, students of Murape Secondary School received a surprise visit by a delegation of Ubuntu trainers. These trainers are young people from the Dema community, where Murape Secondary is situated, and are involved in various youth development initiatives in the community. They had just undergone a rigorous two-day training by the Ubuntu Youth Leaders’ Programme, which enabled them to run an Ubuntu Week at Murape Secondary. This comprised a five-day series of activities filled with non-formal education activities, involving experiential and relational learning. Each day there was a separate theme, structured around the five ubuntu pillars, namely self-knowledge, self-confidence, resilience, empathy and service.
Students were divided into groups for various activities centred on the ubuntu concepts. Each group was given a task, with the members having to work together to accomplish it. The tasks were challenging, and members had to rely on each other to complete them. The activities created a sense of camaraderie among the students and helped them understand the importance of collaboration.
The week flew by, and students were keen to learn more. The Ubuntu Leaders Programme had taught them so much about being good leaders and about building self-confidence within themselves. Here is what some of them had to say.
“I personally learnt that, as a leader there will be immense obstacles that can distract you from your duties, but you should be ready to face them and solve any problem. Being a leader, one should be a good listener and should always have empathy for others.” Lovemore Seremani (School head boy)
“The training was amazing. We had fun as Murape Secondary School leaders, and we got to know how we can develop our school, and how to be good leaders. We learnt how to overcome obstacles, teamwork, good communication skills and how be resilient. But the biggest and the most important [is] we got to know each other, our weaknesses, and strengths so we can help each other.” Tinevimbo Kapilingishe (Student)
“We watched and reflected on different films and documentaries as well as participated in different games but with one aim, to learn something from it. The five days flew by and left us yearning for more. But above all the Ubuntu week engraved in me the importance of being a good leader and how to build self-confidence within us.” Ishmael Nyoni (Senior prefect)
By the close of the week, the 13 ubuntu trainers had inculcated the spirit of ubuntu in all the participants, including two teachers and 32 students, comprising prefects, junior council members and junior parliamentarians. Inspired by various servant-leaders such as Nelson Mandela, these young people have now embraced the five pillars of ubuntu: self-knowledge, self-confidence, resilience, empathy and service.
This pilot training is just the beginning of an initiative that will be rolled out, first in the other nine Phase 1 FutureLife-Now! schools, and then to additional schools around Zimbabwe, as the Ubuntu Youth Leaders’ Programme will soon be launched as a national partnership between the Zimbabwean Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, MIET AFRICA and IPAV within the framework of Phase 2 of FutureLife-Now! This will contribute directly to promoting youth leadership development, participation and governance, which is one of the Southern African Development Community’s key priority areas requiring urgent attention and action. The programme has already been launched in South Africa and will also be rolled out in Lesotho, Malawi and Zambia. Together, we are so much more.