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Youth experience topped the agenda when the four-day long Joburg Youth Unites Summit got underway at the Constitution Hill.

The summit took place from 24 to 28 June 2014 and saw some of the young leaders active in business, government and civil society and ordinary youth converge to engage and interrogate topical issues including service, leadership, active citizenship, education, sustainable development, entrepreneurship and more.

The theme of the first day, “Principles underpinning service, leadership and civic duty: active citizenship,” set the scene for robust debate on the role of youth in the current age.

Simamkele Dlakavu, a One Young World ambassador and panelist at the summit urged young people to get involved in civic organisations.

“When you talk about the issue of economy, where is the voice of young people? About 80 percent of youth in South Africa are not involved in civic organisations,” said Dlakavu.

She said information was the key for the youth to unlock many opportunities and to empower themselves.

Petal Thring, the CEO of Constitution Hill told delegates that her organisation has various programmes targeting the youth and invited youth to take advantage of these programmes.

“Constitution Hill is a public place and everyone is welcome to come. During the youth month we have programmes aimed at the youth. We also work with other organisations like Brand SA to get more people to visit. We also have debate competitions amongst high schools to talk about issues such as the Bill of Rights,” said Thring.

Dudu Maseko, the Executive Director for the City’s Community Development department said young people needed to cultivate a positive attitude.

“There is an issue of attitude; this is when we talk about the matter of social cohesion. If we are a cosmopolitan city, it means we must all have a sense of belonging and not have negative attitude against the immigrants,” said Maseko.

A young Somalian-born Askar Mahommed shared a moving story about how he escaped war in his country of birth, how he was embraced by South Africans and how now he was giving back to the youth.

“We are sharing our entrepreneurial skills with young people in Johannesburg even though we come from a war-torn country. Africa is rising. South Africa in particular has got the best infrastructure, so young people should think about how they can even do business beyond borders,” said Mahommed.
His organisation has trained about 70 young people around Johannesburg in entrepreneurial skills.