Young Adult Leaders in Southern Africa

In December 2018 we had our first Southern Africa International Young Adult Leaders’ Workshop. Participants ranged in age from eighteen to thirty-five. I am a young, proud, Black, female adult and a developing leader. I had the opportunity to organize this workshop, which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, and led by Bafana Matsebula, our Regional Reference Person.

The objectives of the workshop were (1) to develop the leadership of young adults to enable them to tackle societal challenges in the Region and the world at large, and (2) to mentor young adults who are committed to leadership, so they can replace our Regional Reference Person when he retires in the next ten years.

The workshop was unique and vibrant and demonstrated our youthfulness. For example, we did not have nametags; instead we sang a song, “Mabitso Mabitso,” that made it easy for us to master each other’s names. We had also been introduced to each other prior to the workshop in our WhatsApp group.

Everyone was respectful and willing to learn from the others, which I’ve found is not typical of young people’s gatherings. We enjoyed being together. We also appreciated the significance of our workshop; the leader did not have to push us or “discipline” us.

For introductions we were asked to consider the question, “Why am I here this weekend?” It was an important question for everyone. Bafana asked that we also address it in our Co-Counseling sessions. He pointed out that he is not a young adult and does not seek to lead young adults. He appealed to us to take on [assume] leadership. He wants to develop leaders before he retires.

The following are some of the points that were made about leadership:

  • Leadership is necessary.
  • Everybody has been oppressed, and the resulting hurts interfere with our leadership. Re-evaluation Counseling can help us fight the ongoing oppression and choose to lead.
  • The world needs more people to take up [engage in] the leadership challenge.
  • We cannot lead if we are a mess. Everyone who chooses to be a leader must invest time in themselves and have Co-Counseling sessions.
  • Every individual is important. Everyone is worth fighting for. Everyone has the potential to be a leader.
  • Our minds are our weapons, and we should learn to rely on them.
  • As young adults we are targeted for oppression in society. We are forced to give up and be subjugated. Young adult oppression is institutionalized in religion, culture, and education.
  • It is key that young people take up leadership. Doing that is the fastest way to grow. We will be restimulated—many times—which is a reminder to discharge. When people discharge, they grow, gain perspective, and gain courage to take up even greater challenges.
  • There is a lot of work to do in our Region, and we have a shortage of leaders.
  • The RC organization does all in its power to take care of and support leaders. Bafana talked briefly about Intensives at Re-evaluation Counseling Community Resources in Seattle (Washington, USA) in which leaders receive (for a fee) a week of one-way Re-evaluation Counseling. He went there when he was experiencing the biggest struggle of his life.
  • Any of us can be a leader. All we have to do is choose to be one. Leadership is not the purview of any specific race, class, gender, age group, culture, or religion.
  • Bafana said that it had helped him immensely to have people who had faith in him even when he didn’t think he could lead. In RC we are unwavering in our belief in the individual person. We have to lend each other our faith that we are enough despite whatever feelings might be coming up for us. This is not an easy task and can require lots of discharge. It can be restimulating to watch someone fight feelings of powerlessness and discouragement if we, the counselor, have not had enough sessions ourselves on powerlessness and discouragement.
  • Choosing to lead comes with a commitment to engage in self-recovery, in cleaning up distress. We have to keep up with [keep having] sessions. We have to believe that we are worth that much attention.


We were taught a million more things at the workshop, some of which are reflected in other people’s highlights below:

  • Getting the opportunity to see that we are all needed in the RC organization and have people who are committed to believing in us and training us to be great leaders
  • Not saying a thing, and appreciating people and giving them all our attention
  • Being in an environment in which I’m free and not bottling up the “real me”
  • Having the opportunity to attend; this was my first workshop, and I was, like, “When is the next one?”
  • Learning how to use my mind and not be used by it
  • Having a terrific experience, mainly because there were more males compared to at the last workshop
  • The thirty-minute sessions—I’ve even committed to spending an hour every morning focusing on my mind
  • The appreciation and sense of belonging; having never met any of you, I felt like I had known you for years
  • Reflecting and focusing on myself, something that I had rarely done
  • Being more concerned with the well-being of the next person than with my own happiness
  • Games, ice cream, taking pictures
  • The appreciation and good vibes [energy] being radiated by you people—thank you
  • How inspired I was to continue with RC after the workshop; it led me to decide to lead a report-back session—I’m nervous but hope it goes well!
  • Realizing that self-investment is important
  • Feeling loved and appreciated like never before by people I hardly knew
  • Realizing my abilities and building my self-confidence, something I’ve been struggling with for the longest time
  • Appreciating the counsellor and realising how strong I am
  • Enjoying each and every session and making new friends; looking forward to seeing the Community grow—I love RC
  • Being able to discharge, and playing with every one of you good people
  • Meeting RCers from other countries, since I love learning new languages
  • The appreciation sessions—a rare opportunity that taught me how much a person matters, which is usually overlooked
  • Being able to discharge, and enjoying each and every person’s warm, energetic presence
  • One of the best weekends of my life—you guys are too caring and amazing; I love you to the moon and back!
  • Learning that discharging isn’t a one-day thing but a lifetime thing and that I have to keep doing long sessions and focusing on my mind
  • Discovering that I do have a supportive family (my RC family), which I have been looking for all my life—you are so caring, smart, lovely!
  • The silent session—it was intense and weird; four minutes is a lo-o-ong time, especially when you are trying to maintain eye contact and connect with someone
  • Meeting you—you are an amazing bunch; your team spirit is out of this world [completely wonderful]; I miss you already
  • I was born; I am here; this is me
  • Will it be easy? Nope. Worth it? Absolutely. Good morning, future leaders!

Nolwazi Dlamini

Manzini, Eswatini

Last modified: 2023-04-15 09:24:12+00