The multi-talented, multi-tasking Zamantungwa Khumalo recently returned from a trip to Abuja, Nigeria, where she and other young South Africans from the Global Shapers community “represented” at the World Economic Forum. A lot has changed since we interviewed Zama last year! Find out more here:
Thanks for chatting to us again Zama, first off, who are the Global Shapers community?
We are a network of city-based Hubs developed and led by young leaders between 20 and 30 years old. We play an active role in shaping the communities in which we live.
Sounds interesting, what kind of people are the shapers?
Shapers are highly motivated young leaders who have a great potential for future leadership roles in society. We are selected on the basis of our achievements, leadership potential, and commitment to make a difference.
Through the Global Shapers Community, we are provided with opportunities to connect with the worldwide network of Global Shapers, to network with other World Economic Forum communities, and to represent the voice of youth at World Economic Forum events.
And what role do you play?
I’m a member of the Tshwane Hub and participate in the different hub projects and initiatives that we support, as a hub.
How did you get involved in this?
A few months ago, Shapers had the opportunity to apply to be 1 of 50 Shapers to attend the 24th World Economic Forum on Africa. I actually applied at the last minute, after some encouragement from a fellow Hub member. Then I received confirmation that my application was successful and started preparing for the forum!
What was the role of SA in being the ‘Youth Voice’ at this year’s forum?
We participated in the different forum events, not just as delegates, but as discussion leaders and panellists. For example, I was part of a plenary session which was televised live on one of the biggest morning news shows in Nigeria, and it was streamed live – the views expressed went beyond South Africa and some of the challenges we face. Our contributions were not necessarily about the respective countries we come from.
Can you give us an idea of how the days were spent?
Before the Forum, we firstly attended SHAPE Africa. SHAPE Africa is an annual regional meeting of Global Shapers from Africa and its platform for change makers to discuss and come up with practical solutions to some of the continent’s most pressing challenges.
Sounds great, what were the highlights for you here?
The two-day (SHAPE Africa) event had phenomenal speakers such as the Finance Minister of Nigeria, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigerian investor, banker and philanthropist, Tony Elumelu, Director, Head of Africa at the World Economic Forum, Elsie Kanza, to mention a few. There were also different panel discussions, focusing on the different themes: Entrepreneurship, Agriculture, Education and Technology.
What kind of sessions were there?
I attended a session on ‘Risk and Resilience in Africa’ and ‘Unlocking Africa’s Potential’, to name a few. The second day had the most attention, there was an ‘Africa Rising’ with panellists Dr.Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Founder and Executive Chair of the Mandela Institute for Development Studies, Dr.Nkosana Moyo, among others and probably one of the biggest panels was on ‘Unlocking Job-Creation Growth’ which was chaired by Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.
The last day started with a plenary session I was a panelist in, called ‘Young and Restless’, where we interrogated the extent to which young Africans play a role in shaping the Africa we live in.
Which influencers inspired you?
We had a ‘Meet the Leader’ session as the 50 Global Shapers with former Brazilian President Lula da Silva. I’ve been all over the world and attended a number of conferences, but have never actually seen a leader- a whole [former] president – be that passionate about changing the lives of the people he serves. If anything, his presidency indicates how it’s possible to bring millions of people out of poverty and create an environment where people can thrive.
What were your top “take outs” from the forum?
I think the first one is that, it’s all good and well to want, fight for and eventually have a seat at the table; however, what’s even more important is what you do with that seat. The opportunity to be at a forum which gathers Africa’s leaders and decision makers in both business and politics is great but what’s more important is that the attending turns into something substantial.
Secondly, and this is something I mentioned during my panel, we need to make this ‘leadership circle’ bigger. I recognise my privilege and the opportunities I’ve been able to take advantage of because of it. I believe it’s my responsibility to ‘pay it forward’ as it were and to make sure that there are more young men and women who are not only part of these conversations, but that are positively impacted by the actions we take post attending forums like these.
How are you going to roll out what was discussed at the WEF?
The Tshwane hub is already running projects in the Tshwane area, our flagship project being DIY SA, aimed at showcasing and celebrating young South African leaders doing phenomenal world. A fellow Shaper, a friend and I are working on a phenomenal project and attending the forum gave us a great opportunity to connect with the different people we’d get on board for the project.
We know that will be interesting, please keep us posted and thank you for “Representing” again! It’s safe to say that Zama is a future master and she’s on the right path. The world needs thought leaders like her, who are not afraid to dream big, challenge their thoughts, think out of the box and taking part in shaping the community we live in because we are the future leaders of tomorrow. Read our interview with her from last year here http://bit.ly/1sUHneq