Khutso Evelyn Modiselle, South African, is the Co-founder of the first African Union Chapter at the University of Cape Town. The chapter will embark upon some elements like a mentorship programme, a journal and an annual talk shop that seeks to address uniquely African problems. She is a graduate in the degree of Bachelor of Social Sciences in Political studies, International Relations and Public Policy and Administration of the University of Cape Town. She has served in various leadership positions while a student at the University of Cape. She is an advocate of the momentous role of visionary leadership and she is pursuing her LLB (Law) post-graduate degree at the University of Cape Town, where she is also steering the transformation agenda at the University of Cape Town. She is a voluntary at the South African Youth exchange programme. She served as the Secretary General of the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the University of Cape 2015.
Q1. Can we meet you as a person? Birthplace, education and so on
Ans: My name is Khutso Evelyn Modiselle, Daughter of Benjermin and Salamina Modiselle. I was raised in a family of 3 girls and I’m the youngest. I was born in Rankotea Brits city North West province in South Africa. I went to Light House Christian Collage for my primary, middle and high school year. I also had the opportunity to study at Sweden eskilstuna gymnasium in 2009. In 2010 I was offered a scholarship to study at Waterford Collage in Swaziland to do a levels in 2011. At that point I had to choose between A levels and university. I remember my dad saying I should do my A levels because I had applied to UCT to study politics and he and the rest of my family didn’t think it is something one would need to study for taking into account the politics in SA. I told my family have accepted UCT’s offer and I’m not going Swaziland. First year of university I hated every minute of it because my values where being challenged and the way I viewed the world and hoped it to be was seen to be wrong and undermining what it truly meant to be pan Africanist. I graduated in 2014 with a BA in political science, public policy and administration and international relations. I’m currently completing my LLB degree at UCT.
Q2. What brought about the decision to open the first African union chapter at the University of Cape Town (UCT)?
Ans: In 2012 I applied for an AGA youth forum and I was selected to take part. During the forum I didn’t say a thing. I was scared and didn’t think I had anything to contribute. I had no knowledge about the African Union or African politics apart from the work I learned in university which was nothing to tell the truth. I went home hurt and sad about how little I knew about Africa yet I regard myself as a pan Africanist and most importantly an African. The same year I was invited to another AU forum and again the next year 3 more AU youth programs. I started seeing a pattern that verified the statements made by my friends and classmates when I shared with them about things I had learned at these programs “these meetings are spaces for “friends” to meet, have a holiday, do the usual recommendations and go home to only forget about everything that was discussed”. None of the recommendations seemed to be implemented or shared with those at the grassroots level that don’t even know about the AU or the problems faced by Africa and her people. I figured UCT has about 27 0000 students that are right in front of me and I can reach. Most of these student are active in voluntary work “be it for the wrong or right reasons” they were right there for me to approach in sharing the information I have gathered from all the AU forums. All I had to do is package it according to the desire. I had found a way to pay it forward to share the knowledge that was given to me.
Q3. A mentorship programme, a journal and an annual talk show that seeks to address uniquely African problems, what can be said to be your inspiration?
Ans: I would say a mentorship program. The reason is that I believe that the problem is not about information sharing. The information is there we have so many talk shows on African issues and books written but young people want a more interactive and informal way to understand the problems faced by Africa and her people. Furthermore, ways in which they can help in developing Africa one day at a time with the resources they have. So for me a mentorship program offers more than that. It allows one to create a space where two different views can meet and influence each other for the better. Because during this process both mentee and mentor learn new things.
Q4. Can you enlighten us more on the African union chapter at the University of Cape Town as well as the other chapters across the continent?
Ans: The UCT Chapter was our first Chapter and was established in 2014. Soon after that we had different institutions approaching us to establish Chapters. We currently have Chapters in 30 countries their information and what they aim to achieve is on our websitewww.auchapter.org. But if I would sum it up the AU Chapters aim to be an implementing agent of the Agenda 2063, African Youth Charter and AU Youth Policies. The Chapters also function as a platform for young people to share and implement their ideas that aim to develop Africa and her people.
Q5. What has been the most challenging part of your job?
Ans: That’s simple. The hardest things has been answering one question that even now it takes a lot to convince donors or heads of states that we are different from other AU youth organs and that we truly want to see Africa develop. “What is the difference between the Chapter and PYU?” This has resulted in us reaching out to western organization’s for financial and technical support. However, that also hasn’t been easy.
Q6. How easy has it been to fundraise for your initiatives? Can you share one particular success story as well as a story that didn’t work quite well?
Ans: Asking for money hasn’t been easy. Our greatest contributors are IAPO, IFFA and Constitution Hill. These institutions have helped us host a national summit on Agenda 2063 in Cape Town and also the launch of the Chapters in Johannesburg. However, working on our major project such a Africa112 that aims to raise funds for women and youth has been challenging as major donors want an endorsement letter from the African Union and Heads of States and getting the letter hasn’t been an easy task. This has truly slowed us down in reaching our target and also implements other programs. These programs include an African exchange program where young people visit an African state to help its community. We aim to have mobile clinics, newly graduated doctors helping in public hospitals for 2 weeks, and launching the pan Africanist library during international youth day. We were blessed to have been accepted by the Ethiopian community to have our exchange program in Addis where space was given for the library, public hospitals willing to take our participants in to help and accommodation given to our participant by the university. It’s been hard but when something small but good happens we know that it’s all worth it
Q7: How have decisions you made and initiatives you have taken in the past contributed to the success you have attained today?
Ans: This is a hard question. Because how I got where I am today is by the grace of God. There are so many time I wanted to stop and go back focus on only school. However, I cannot because the trust that young people have placed in the Chapter is worth maintaining. One thing that has contributed to the success of the Chapter is my current team and also learning how to select the right people to work with. People that understand and believe in the Chapter and most importantly the idea of having a better Africa “the Africa we want”.
Q8. What advice do you have for young people especially women who want to make a difference and don’t know how?
Ans: Have the right motive. Apart from being young you are women. You will face more challenges than you can imagine from those around you and also the most important person yourself when you want to give up. At that point the reason you started what you doing will be the only thing keeping you going. I wish someone had told me start small but dream big and keep focus on the goal. Do something you love. Something that will make you wake up in the middle of the night because you want to make it happen and you think you have the solution only to go to bed hours later with more questions and confusion but still willing to wake up again and again to find that one solution to complete the task at hand.
Q9. It’s a given that a number of young Africans look up to you as a mentor, in this minute what words do you have for such young Africans?
Ans: There is nothing like overnight success and microwave ideas don’t work. Plan and plan again. You will fail so many times but that only shows you that there is a better way of doing things not that you will never succeed. It’s better to work with a team then to work alone because with a team you will go far and have people to support you.
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