#UPYouthMonth: ‘The future we envision for ourselves and the nation is in our hands’ – Semane Mokgohlwa, 2020/21 Chairperson of TEDxUniversityofPretoria

Posted on June 19, 2021

TEDxUniversityofPretoria is a university initiative founded in 2018 by students, for students. It provides a platform for creative and innovative minds to share ideas worth spreading; a space to inspire and be inspired. Through TEDxTalks, UP has successfully hosted events that aim to increase student involvement beyond their academics, so that they can have a meaningful impact on their communities. Sharing their ideas with a broader platform will not only enhance personal growth, but also highlight and advance authentically African culture with and to the global community.  

In commemorating Youth Month 2021 in South Africa, we caught up with Semane Mokgohlwa, 2020/21 Chairperson of TEDxUniversityofPretoria, who shared some insights.


Can you tell us about your studies as well as your role at TEDx? 

I am in my fourth year of BA Law – LLB studies at the University of Pretoria. I am currently the 2020/21 chairperson of TEDxUniversityofPretoria, which includes responsibility for the management and strategic direction of the society.

How has Youth Month had an impact on your life?

Youth Month is a reminder that the future that we, as the youth, envision for ourselves and the nation is in our hands. It is a reminder that we need to be at the forefront of the change we want to see, even if it means engaging in conversations that may be daunting to us.

What has this project taught you?

This project has taught me how important it is to be part of a project bigger than myself. A project founded on the spirit of ideas worth spreading, with the power to change reality and knowledge systems, has taught me the importance of being proactive in my community. Being part of the organising team at TEDxUniversityofPretoria has taught me that working together is how you move forward and realise a common goal.

How are you helping your community through TEDx talks?

In a country like South Africa, with frequent policy and social reform, the social and cultural space which TED occupies is crucial in promoting and maintaining a progressive approach that is innovative, inclusive, positive, and fair in our community.

What is the end goal of TEDxUniversityofPretoria?

The end goal is to build on the TEDx and TEDxUniversityofPretoria legacy in the university space, to create a space and continuity where the student community can match their differences with ideas inclusive of everyone; a continuity of ideas worth spreading.

What advice would you give to young men and women about helping their communities?

Do not only dream for yourself, dream for a future with your community in mind. We all share a common responsibility to act where we can, so do what you can today. Small initiatives or helping an individual in need can go a long way – an initiative can never be too small. If every individual plays their part in helping their communities, the accumulation of all these initiatives can contribute to the change we want to see.

What advice would you give to people about perseverance and overcoming adversities? 

Adopting a positive and ‘growth’ mindset is important in persevering through adversities. Your perspective on the world has an influence on how you respond to, persevere through and overcome adversities. Adversities are character builders, and often the greatest opportunities arise from them. 

- Author Xolani Mathibela

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