MYM’s virtual leadership programme touted a success

Al Qalam Reporter

The Covid-19 pandemic has altered our world in many ways and has brought to the fore the fault lines that define our presence in this world. Deprived of physical contact, we have been challenged to find alternative and innovative ways of learning, teaching and connecting.

The Muslim Youth Movement (MYM) has, each year for more than two decades held a mid-year youth camp wherein various speakers conduct interactive sessions on contemporary issues. These camps form part of the MYM baseline programme and have, over the years, become a breeding ground for future activists and leaders.

However, since the advent of the pandemic in 2020 and its accompanying lockdowns, the MYM has not been able to hold its flagship youth camp due to the prohibition of gatherings and the requirement for physical distancing to prevent the spread of the corona virus.

This year, to overcome the challenges presented by the pandemic, the MYM held its first series of virtual youth webinars and invited diverse speakers to present on various topics. These two-hour long sessions were held over five Sundays from the beginning of September 2021. Amongst the speakers was Edris Khamissa, Mphutlane wa Bofelo, Maulana Rafeek Shah, Ebrahim Fakir, Irfaan Mangera and many others.

In addition to individual attendance, five Muslim NGO’s allowed their students to participate in the webinars at their centres. They are Refocus & Upliftment Foundation, As-Salaam Educational Institute, Verulam Islamic Institute, Islamic Dawah Movement of Southern Africa and the Muslim Youth Movement.

The first programme commenced on 5 September with activist Arun Naicker of well-known Umtapo Centre engaging participants on the topic ‘Towards Peace, Human Rights and Anti-Racism’. Ms Naicker introduced the group to the different forms of racism that exists in society and some basic guidelines on how to manage conflicts arising from racial prejudice.

In the following week, Ms Shabnam Bux of Old Mutual provided guidance on Wealth Management. Her programme was aimed at assisting people with managing their finances effectively, by avoiding bad debts and unnecessary expenses. The programme was also beneficial to home industries and SME’s. The ultimate objective of the programme was to impart new worthwhile financial management skills and behaviors. It cut across all societal levels, and was designed to address specific money management challenges at each societal level.

The third webinar had two presenters. Br Thandile Kona, current President of the MYM and community activist who suggested practical ways to strive for Islamic Social Integration whilst former politician Ml Rafeek Shah emphasised qualities of a leader in his topic ‘The Role of a Muslim Leader in contemporary SA’.

On the fourth session, two influential personalities brought home the stark reality that current and future leaders face. International speaker and Human Development practitioner, Edris Khamissa emphasised 13 points to raise the Muslim profile in SA during his talk titled ‘Lessons for Faith based Communities from the recent incidents in the KwaZuluNatal and Gauteng Provinces’.  Ebrahim Mphutlane wa Bofelo, an expert on governance and leadership – addressed the key Islamic and general leadership qualities that youth need to currently acquire.

The final Sunday of the leadership series saw prominent political analyst and ASRI director, Ebrahim Fakir, share his thoughts about ways to overcome poverty and unemployment in South Africa. Irfaan Mangera, currently Youth Activism Programme Manager at the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and a former secretary of the National Union of Muslim Students Association gave account of his personal challenges to lead the MSA and practical leadership for youth to lead South Africa.

Thandile Kona, President of the Muslim Youth Movement said: “The topics that were presented and debated were from themes about socio-economic issues, community activism, leadership development and social integration. The enthusiastic participants were also from diverse backgrounds and institutions, like the As-Salaam Educational Institute, Refocus & Upliftment Foundation and Verulam Islamic Institute.”

“The response from the participants was overwhelmingly positive and they expressed a need for the MYM to continue to host such empowering webinars and to widen the range of topics for discussion,” said Thandile.                                                                         

He also expressed his thanks and appreciation to all the participants, speakers and organizations who sacrificed their Sunday mornings in order to attend.

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