US First Lady Michelle Obama’s powerful and moving speech to the Young African Women Leaders Forum fell right on my open ears -, that’s for sure. Though I was not physically present as she was delivering her speech at Regina Mundi church in Soweto, Johannesburg but the moment I got access to it via the media (TV, print and online) I felt like she was talking to me. Her speech rouses emotions among the audience, including myself. She touched on the subject that change is possible in our societies and that young people should take a lead in bringing about that societal transformation. And that we all have God-given abilities to contribute in our corners of the world, in our own ways in making that change we want to see.
What really touched me is when she said that we must not think that the struggle ended with the end of apartheid era. Yes, our struggle continues with the fight against HIV/AIDS, poverty and unemployment.
It is an indefinable truth that we, as today’s youth, are facing a struggle to fight HIV/AIDS as well as its stigma. I say it is the greatest struggle facing the human race of the modern age. For me, this goes down to the question about how we treat infected individuals we live with in our homes, the people we meet on the streets, and in our churches? The struggle to fight HIV/AIDS is not only for big organisations, the government or big companies but I as an individual can get involved by helping where I can. For an example, a discussion I can have with a small group of people in my family or community can be significant in making a difference in someone else’s life. Thus, contributing in making that social change I want to see.
Also, she mentioned that our struggle involves the fight against poverty. Before I go any further with this, let me remind you whilst reminding myself that poverty has become sort of Africa’s characteristics. Our continent is known for being the most affected by hunger. As I seat here, writing this blog I can tell you that poverty is not just a topic that get to be mentioned in public speeches but it is a reality that most disadvantaged communities here in South Africa are facing daily. Although the country’s Department of Social Development is working on eliminating poverty but I think there is a lot that still need to be done by us, the people in every way possible to fight the struggle of hunger in our own communities.
I like the way she referred to the youth of 1976 (June 16 Soweto Uprising) who were determined to fight for freedom, which we are all enjoying today. She pointed out that the 1976 youth had nothing but determination to fight for what they believe was right for them and the country at large. To me, this strikes the question: What am I doing, with determination, to bring about change in my own corner of the globe? I think it is this type of questions that need to be asked by every young individual who really wants to make that change that will benefit their communities, hence contributing to the social change.
This is what inspired me the most:
“True leadership often happens with the smallest acts, in the most unexpected places, by the most unlikely individuals”, she said.