“Millennials don’t want to work”, they said; “Millennials are lazy”, they said; yet significant social and economic changes in Africa will be and are being effected by Africa’s youth who have seen the gaps and the inabilities of their governments to provide for the people’s basic needs. Congolese born and South African raised sisters Sophie and Louise Kanza started the Sophie A Kanza Foundation in order to help bring changes in the lives of orphaned and poor children around and outside South Africa. In a space of 2 years the foundation has done more than the government has done through fundraising initiatives like Fabulous Female Fashion Show that raised enough money to supply hundreds of girls with sanitary pads. #CandyCraftsDay as the Sophie A Kanza Foundation is sometimes known is interactive and engages the children in making crafts and supplying clothes and sanitary towels to the girls who have reached puberty. A huge number of charities and schools benefit immensely from the Sophie A Kanza Foundation through sanitary pads donations, clothes and food; and matric dance packages for girls who cannot afford all the expenses of a matric dance.
Being Congolese born and living in South Africa, the Kanza sisters have been deeply hurt by the Afrophobia attacks that started in Rosettenville when service delivery protests erupted against drug dealing and prostitution in the area. Although the culprits where known Nigerians; the community turned against all foreign nationals and the attacks caught on in even some parts of South Africa. This meant that the sisters were not safe even though South Africa is the only home they have known which led to them producing and directing a video titled “Singabantu” which means we are people. The video featured young immigrants from other African countries and their flights as “Foreigners” in South Africa. The video went on to win the “I Am Migrant” award at the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Plural plus Festival.
It is sad that Africans do not feel safe in Africa because of the harm that we inflict on them as South Africans. The harm is not only physical but it is emotional as well, from isolation to name calling. Despite the challenges, the sisters have brought together young people from different parts of Africa to engage on matters that affect us all and bring forward solutions and ways to work together. A conversation has been started and young South African are against Afrophobia which means the older generation is the one that institutes these attacks by painting everyone with the same dirty brush. One foreign person’s sins are paid for by all the foreign people who live in SA and that is not right at all. If the young cannot change the mindsets of the old then we will need ways to protect our brothers and sisters from outside South Africa from these senseless attacks.
The good work of the foundation has not gone unnoticed, Sophie Kanza has been nominated as one of 100 Most Influential South Africans for 2017/18 and Louise Kanza was nominated for “Advocate of the Year” at the Africa Youth Awards 2017. We really need more young people like Sophie and Louise Kanza.
Check out the Singabantu video
Sophie and Louise founded the Sophie A Kanza foundation, a self-funded charity organization. They came up with the concept #CandyCraftDays and rolled it out into sincere charity organizations and no fee day care centers that had little to no government funding in and around Johannesburg. They buy bulk of sweets and packaging for events A few friends (all currently under the age of 25) collect the remainder of the goodies and they host the craft days where the kids create their own candy crafts using sweets.
Sophie and Louise were born in DRC and have lived in South Africa ever since they were toddlers. Although they are hoping to attract sponsorships , they still keep on working on their foundation. They have started collecting and distributing clothing and sanitary supplies to shelters and orphanages. Their organisation has grown so much through social media and they have volunteers from other African countries like Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon and Malawi.
The Sophie A Kanza Foundation’s goal is unity in diversity. Building friendships and learning from and about each other’s cultures. If the youth can become open minded and tolerant, it is then easier to transmit these sentiments and influence others. We also focus on the fear of foreigners (Xenophobia), in this case it is the fear of the unknown. Most of the young immigrants moved to South Africa before they could speak so they feel no concrete attachment to their home countries yet are still victimized in the country they now call home. They have no sense of belonging. But how can an African be a foreigner, in Africa?
We decided to use charity as the means to bring people together because we felt it was important for youth to know that they can make a difference, regardless of their nationality, race or financial status. We encourage the youth to go out and make a difference in people’s lives.
Many “foreigners” are accustomed to congregating among themselves to avoid victimization. We work to take them out of these comfort zones. Once we work together towards making a difference we learn that we are all the same, brothers and sisters of Africa. Not enemies or threats.
Africa reign to me means knowing who I am, where I’m from and how we are connected. Using this vast information and beautiful pictures to shine in my part of Africa and furthermore chop and change my surroundings.- Sophie
Sophie feels that there is a lack of platforms created for dialogue and genuine interaction between locals and immigrants. The youth needs to create these platforms and work together. If the youth can become open minded and tolerant towards African brothers and sisters, the shift is possible. Also we need to create a culture of visiting other African cities to soak up culture and experiences that we can bring home to share with others. “We are all called to make a difference and contribute to the improvements of our continent”says Sophie.
I believe Africans have an inherited entrepreneurial spirit. Even before paper money, banks, business schools etc. This inherited spirit need to be nurtured and developed to bridge the gap. Many skills have become income generators such as hairdressing, dress making e.t.c many of which are self taught.
For more on #CandyCraftDays and the Sophie A Kanza Foundation check https://www.facebook.com/sophieakanzafoundation
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