UP researcher among 100 Most Influential Young Africans

Posted on October 04, 2018

Dikeledi Mokoena of UP’s Centre for Sexualities, AIDS and Gender tells us why she believes Africa can offer the world a model for a changed world. 

Her passion is Africa – and it’s a love that runs so deep she even had it etched on her skin. After being included in a list of Most Influential Young Africans, Mokoena found herself in the company of other passionate South African heavy hitters including Bonang Matheba, Cassper Nyovest, and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi. Tukkievaria spoke to her about this exciting honour.

Congratulations on your win! Tell us about the work you do? 

I joined UP’s Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (GovInn) in 2016, and then moved to the Politics Department at Humanities. In 2017 I was appointed as a lecturer to third-year and Honours students in Political Science. Currently I am based at UP’s Centre for Sexualities, AIDS and Gender as a researcher. I am also part of the leadership of JUST Leaders, a programme I co-designed to train young people in leadership. 

You turned 30 in March, and now you’re listed among 2018’s 100 Most Influential Young Africans. Tell us more about the award? 

The list was launched in 2014 by an organisation called Africa Youth Awards, which aims to recognise the work of young Africans in Africa and the diaspora. This year’s top 100 is spread across 26 African countries, and the list includes young politicians, activists, entrepreneurs, entertainers, digital influencers, philanthropists and athletes who are doing work that promotes a positive image of Africa across the globe.

The list includes some famous South African names, including entertainer Bonang Matheba, Bafana star Percy Tau, musician Cassper Nyovest, and EFF spokesperson Dr. Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.

What does it feel like to be included among this list, and have you met any of them? 

It’s humbling, and I did meet quite a number of them at an event for young African leaders hosted by the Obama Foundation in July. It’s one thing to read their names on the list, and another to meet them. To be considered as part of their amazing work is humbling. 

Can you tell us more about the programme you work on at the Centre for Sexualities, AIDS and Gender?
JUST leaders is the new flagship CSA&G volunteer and social justice leadership development programme, which evolved from the CSA&G’s previous Future Leaders at Work programme. It aims to establish a movement of active citizen student leaders that promote social justice, critical consciousness and inclusive practices at UP. It also supports similar movements at partner universities in the Southern African region. Our motto is, “Through promoting social justice, critical consciousness and inclusive practices, we will co-create university environments that are responsive and transformed by just leaders.”

Lastly, we were told you have a beautiful tattoo on your back. Can you tell us about it?

My tattoo is of the map of Africa, with the Egyptian goddess Maat embedded in it. The goddess is a symbol of love, harmony, justice, peace and balance. It’s a prayer for myself and the continent, and reflects my passion for Africa. I believe that Africa has the potential to offer the world a model for rebirthing an equalitarian and just world, a world with less or no structural fissures and instability. Out of this chaos, a more pluriversal world can emerge.

- Author Myan Subrayan

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