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Letter from Limpopo: Thabiso Sekhula is back to celebrating Africa Day having seen just how much beauty there is to celebrate

Happy Africa Day my people. For a long time I did not celebrate this day. With the xenophobic attacks in my own country, poverty and rising unemployment, it felt crazy to celebrate.

Over the past few years thanks to social media, I see just how much there is to celebrate. Young Africans are having dialogue about opportunities to work together as well as our shared history.

Following the social media pages of a young Venda woman, Kay Lidhovo, you can see this beauty unfolding.

She shares stories from her Venda heritage and people all around Africa comment with similar stories from theirs.

Did you know that the word for hunger, njjala or enjara in a country as far up as Uganda is similar to njala in Malawi and Zambia, ndlala for the Tsonga people and tlala in the Sotho languages.

In the bemba language in Zambia, the word is insala while the lozi tribe call it tala, identical to the balozwi of Limpopo province. The lozi also happen to be the ancestors of the great rain nation of Bolobedu, Queen Modjadji’s people.

The reason for this is that Africa is the origin of most humans and therefore the reason for the diversity is because Africa has had a lot more practice with language than other parts of the world and when people migrated from Africa to other continents, the languages had their own uniformity based on where they ended up.

With the world getting smaller and information easier to share, I am seeing young Africans using this weapon to sharpen their corners. While other worlds scramble with ageing populations, the median age in Africa is 19. I would be worried but let me tell you what these young Africans’ minds are doing.

Leroy Mwasaru is just 25 years old, but the young Kenyan innovator has already made great achievements including being named on the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list in Business. Leroy founded Greenpact just after completing high school, and plays a huge role in the renewable energy sector in Kenya.

35-year-old Bogolo J Kenewendo was the youngest cabinet member in Africa and in Botswana’s history as Investment, Trade and Industry Minister. Kenewendo is a trained trade and economic diplomacy professional and one of the Top 100 most influential Africans of our time.

In Nigeria, 18-year-old Marylove Edwards is the country’s top ranked tennis player. She has been compared to Serena Williams having started so young in the sport and attending the prestigious IMG Academy, in the US.

Vanessa Nakate, 26, started her journey as a climate activist in 2018. The climate crisis has been one of the greatest threats affecting the lives of many Ugandans — and she became increasingly aware and concerned about communities particularly vulnerable to the crippling impacts of a warming planet.

Having followed her journey as an activist since 2018, I have seen her passion when she had a small audience of under 1,000 to now being a global power voice for the environment especially in her country of Uganda. Our very own coal minister Gwede Mantashe could learn a lot from her.

The topics these young people speak on are turning the tide on great injustices in Africa, one of them being female genital mutilation or fgm. 29-year-old Shamsa Araweelo was forced at just six years old to undergo the very painful surgery which is usually done without any painkillers.

She recalls being pinned down by four adults so that it could be done. As a practice that has had a long life in African countries, the subject is taboo to speak on. But her bravery, including taking on the UK government for failing survivors of fgm, has changed the narrative and raises millions of dollars to help survivors with life changing surgeries that save them from a lifetime of pain.

And right here at home, young Zulaika Patel has gone from strength to strength advocating for the rights of black children to go to school with their natural hair.

As amazing as it seems, some schools in South Africa still have policies which state that African hair must be processed with chemicals to straighten it or the child will not be allowed into the school. Through young voices like Zulaika, these ridiculous policies can be put in the past.

I have never felt more confident in a future for Africa that is led by Africans with the good of Africa in mind and heart.

Pictured above: Vanessa Nakate, climate activist

Image source: Vanessa Nakate