Bantu Hikers will be reaching a milestone in August, on the same month women are celebrated in South Africa. The 9th of August marks a significant time in South Africa’s history. It was on this day in 1956 when more than 20 000 women stepped out of the mould, stepped “out of their lane” by marching to the Union Buildings in protest against the Pass Laws. Every year in August we are reminded of their courage, foresight and their agency to determine their path whether it was accepted by an unjust system or not.
Today, women are occupying spaces that they have never occupied before. As we appreciate the legacy that the 20 000 women in 1956 have left for us we also appreciate how far our generation has come and each step we take to fully realise our potential as we navigate uncharted territory.
This year, the founders of Bantu Hikers were selected to be a part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). This fellowship has a global and regional arm both of which were proudly occupied. Khanya Sosibo participated in the regional one in June/July and she shares her experience of this incredible initiative.
In a world where we are constantly told “stay in your lane” and “know your limits”, I dare say don’t! Don’t stay in your lane and definitely don’t acknowledge any limits.
I see you already downing tools and rearing up in protest, but Hold Up and indulge me, please.
In a continent, where the majority face a somewhat disastrous fate even before they make it to the racetrack, staying in their lane as it were, would mean accepting a bleak future, if one can call it a future at all.
I for one refused to “stay in my lane” as a South African black girl child. I rebelled against the societal limits imposed on a girl child. It is because I refused to stay in my proverbial lane, that at this moment I am writing this piece, sharing lessons from the life altering experience of my journey as a YALI fellow representing my home country South Africa.
YALI-RCL SA is part of former USA President Barack Obama’s legacy initiative, that hosts young leaders in business; civil society and the public sector from 14 Southern African nations over 4 intense weeks, in order to create innovative solutions to the problems and challenges in regions and continent at large.
Like any new experience, one is overcome by a cocktail of emotions; ranging from excitement to fear and at times of simple madness. My journey was kick started with extra luggage dilemma at the airport, well, the rest is history.
Over the course of the month, we were pushed and challenged mentally, emotionally and in ways, even some of the brightest of minds were stretched. There were times when we disagreed, most times not intelligently but driven by emotions, tackling issues that affected some more than others. The lessons of not just leading but of the fellowship of leading (leadership vs Leader ) started to unravel.
1. We are more alike than we have been lead to believe and that which is truly different is what ought to draw us together. As leaders we are representing those we serve and so it’s obvious we will stand firm to get that which will serve those we represent. It is important to discern that true leadership is not stubborn to a fault. It rather seeks new solutions that takes nothing away from others but rather empowers them.
2. It can no longer be “business as usual”. Not in our personal lives as a country and definitely not as a continent. It has not served us well “staying in our lane”. In fact it has robbed us of being the best version of ourselves.
3. Nothing can replace the gift of knowledge. Access to information is the foundation of all things. When you understand where and what you come from, you are able to visualise with clarity, which direction leads to positive progress.
My journey is one that started with one step, a step to demand a better version of me, I am not of my circumstances but of my visions. YALI-RCL SA offered me no revelation but gave me confirmation, that I could not “stay in my lane ” and still leave a Legacy. My YALI-RCL SA journey reaffirmed that there are no limitations unless you put them in place. The true power of #occupyingspaces is in occupying the spaces you didn’t know existed.
Join us during August on a lane-changing journey as we step into uncharted territory. #OccupyingSpace.