UNITED NATIONS – Lesedi Mogoatlhe has dedicated her life to empowering African youth by helping them to find their voices through radio journalism.
In a time of economic, cultural and political challenges, young South Africans face extraordinarily difficult issues. As teens, they worry about their friends, families, education and social standing, but must as South Africans also deal with the harsh realities of poverty, disease and violence.
A trainer with Children’s Radio Foundation(CRF) in South Africa, Mogoatlhe focuses on building interest in social issues, provoking critical thinking and nurturing communication.
“It’s tempting to list the number of challenges and inequalities faced by the people on the continent, to talk about how the natural resources are being misused, or how corruption has become synonymous with African leadership,” Mogoatlhe told IPS, “but this seems like a futile exercise if I can’t contribute solutions to these problems.”
Having a voice is essential to having a livelihood, and through organizations like the Children’s Radio Foundation and trainers like Mogoatlhe, more and more youth are becoming equipped with basic communication skills that do more than simply allowing them to say how they feel.
Joan Erakit spoke with Mogoatlhe about her work in radio journalism for youth in South Africa and its impact on young people’s lives. Excerpts of the interview follow.
Q: You train youth to empower not only themselves but also their communities through radio journalism. What sort of trends have you begun to see?
A: Youth that come from rural environments are hungrier for knowledge than youth in urban environments. They seem to be more focused and curious about opportunities that come to them, and they tend to be better at organising themselves and using everything that the platform of radio brings their way.
I’ve also realised that the first moment of empowerment that occurs for the youth happens when they have a microphone to speak through. Something about having their voices amplified seems to also amplify everything else about them.