So help me God...My prayer for Africa.

I'm from a generation undecided. I'm young and restless, but the times are changing.

So help me God...

In my lifetime, I can only pray that God grants me my wishes, wishes to lead my generation in the times of change. Long have we lived in a breaking world where nothing is for keeps, waking up each day to a world devised with poverty inequality, unemployment and great sorrow as millions mourn the loss of loved ones, lost to not just the epidemic killer diseases [HIV/AIDS] but too that of which is known and unknown.

So help us God...

Help us in renewing our generation of people who still live, with the hope of the future. There are two things that a person has and cannot live without and that is love and hope, but with fear these two essential commodities to life's best treasures are left unearthed in the confusion that the world continues to experience.

So help me God...

To explore my nation and travel the world to experience the sorrow and mourning, the torture, pain and killing of our people - that continues to lead our promising continent into deeper turmoil. That I will not be alone as I reach for hands with the aim of touching hearts and addressing minds, with the aim of cleansing thoughts. Till they ultimately reach out to the Lord above where when all is done and pain is gone they know that the creator of all things and beings  is indeed - God - and the pain, suffering and grieving will soon pass. For when one believes in love, one is free - for with Love there is peace, with love there is comfort and with love there is complete understanding.

So help us God...

In a continent where men work hours on end with the daily struggle to make ends meet, women caring for children which their husbands have abandoned and tasked with the ills of caring for a generation forgotten.

In a continent where the youth are unemployed and wake up each day in search of the days treasures to not only gain financial independence for themselves but for their families which they care for.

In a continent where we are ridiculed by our governments, looked down upon by our public servants who serve only with self enrichment in mind,  where those in power live in complete disregard of the rest of the nation and little is done to change the state of their livelihoods.

In a continent where the rich continue to gain riches and the poor continue to drown in poverty - are we ever going to eradicate poverty? We can still Hope. There IS still Hope.
Give us the know how, grant us the ability to love our neighbors beyond reason, where we willfully give without expectation, with the hope that better will be rendered back to us because in God we believe in and he is indeed of undying, eternal love.

So help me God...

Help me lead the young women of my nation through advocacy and labor. Where I speak for the unspoken, for the fearful and for those who have nothing more to live for, for as long as night comes and the sunrises each day, there will be hope, there will be joy and there will be bread on their tables.

So help me God in my journey to liberate my oppressed people in Africa, the young girls who are abducted on a daily basis, trafficked and sold to prostitution, the innocent continuously raped and sexually harassed by their loved ones. Those young and sold to early marriages for economic gains, those who are abused and murdered for speaking out about what they believe in. So help me God, as I journey into my purpose of calling for their social, economic, political and individual liberation. For I believe, when the greater masses hear the cries of Africa's children, so will they rise and when they rise, we pray they rise indefinitely.

So help us God...

In building African Nations that will prosper:
An Africa where women and girls are entitled to basic human rights and are taken care of.
Where the married too young are no longer subjected to sexual, violent and emotional abuse by their spouses.
Where their voices are heard and unjust actions by perpetrators are called in by the state and Justice is served.

An Africa where hunger has no home and starvation is no daily routine.
Where the less privileged are granted basic subsidies and mentored into making a living.
Where no family lives on less than $2 a month and fiance is a commodity that comes in abundance.
Where poverty subsides and later becomes extinct.

An Africa where intercontinental trade is a basis for national development, growth and maturity.
Where Africa trades indefinably with the global market and fruitful & lasting global partnerships are formed.
Where businesses boom and the economic prosperity is shared amongst citizens of all social classes.
Where citizens of Africa love one another and fear no more & the call of xenophobia takes no oath.

An Africa where peace reigns and war is no more.
Where youth are at rest and their futures are at peace, for they fight no more.
Where protests, strikes and marches are a thing of the past.

An Africa where education is a priority and every child is educated.
Where the young are taught practical applications to theoretic principles.
Where the young plant seeds they will reap in building empires that will modify the future.

An Africa where no youth is unemployed.
Where all lands of a single nation are lands of equal opportunities.
Where the young and restless are encouraged, motivated and mentored to remain economically savvy.

An Africa where cross-cultural integration leads to continental and global social cohesion
Where Africans are connected because of ethnicity, history and understanding - and not pride

An Africa where the rich are as poor as the poor and the poor as rich as the rich.
Where equality is a norm.
Where the freedom reigns from the roots of governmental, corporate and private structures and decisions made on all levels are to the benefit of all.

An Africa that agrees on the liberation of it's people.
Where heads of states are selfless beings and traditional leaders lead in favor of it's people through effective and efficient democratic governance.

An Africa where religion is a choice.
Where judgement is not based on religion, creed, belief, culture, social status, race and ethnicity.
Where no child, man or woman is brutally torched and murdered because of their beliefs.
An Africa where justice is served.

O! So help me God.. in granting me the days to experience my Africa develop and grow and in granting my wishes as I embark on a journey devised on my purpose to serve...God hear me as I share - My prayer for Africa.


Zanele Mabaso is an ardent advocate for the global youth community, with primary interest in sexual reproductive health, education and economic empowerment of young women and girls in Africa. A member of the Global Shapers Community, Tshwane Hub in South Africa and One Young World Ambassador, Zanele is determined to lead were governed for the liberation and Human Rights Representation of women around the world. She is the Global Ambassador for ILive2Lead International and strongly believes that exceptional young women leaders need to take the authority of being free - to inspire, motivate and lead those who are not as privileged. She is inspired by the outlook on the future of the African Child and considers Africa – Home.

Twitter: @zanelemabaso23
Instagram: zanelemabaso23
Facebook: Zanele Mabaso

Women Leadership in the 21st Century

After interviewing distinguished women leaders and respected business representatives in the entrepreneurship, corporate and civil society sector in Deauville France at the Global Womens Forum as a representative of the ILive2Lead International Youth Delegation, and learning a lot from them - attained wisdom and saw it wise to share my knowledge on what it takes to be a  woman leader in the 21st Century, where my articles were published by international media such as Global Women's Forum, ILive2Lead Blog, The Daily Beast and Huffington Post

Thanks to organisers and directors of The Raymond Ackerman Academy who had taken the initiative of arranging the Raymond Ackerman Young Leaders Engagement event  at the University of Johannesburg -Soweto Campus, where I had the privilege of meeting outstanding women leaders, who ran successful social businesses, entrepreneurial ventures and strived to continue their work doing various projects aimed at providing solutions to socioeconomic challenges and contributing to the growth of personal and professional development of others. 
It was my honour and pleasure to address the audience about Women Empowerment in the context of Leadership and "What it takes to be a An Effective Woman Leader in the 21st Century" 
I had recently watched the renowned movie: "The Help", Grammy Award winning "12 Years a Slave" and countless other female lead movies including the outstanding South African produced film "Sarafina!". The remarkable characters depicted in the story-lines always cultivate a feeling of great emotion, particularly when analysing the role and portrayal of women in them. The lead they take evokes a deep sense of empowerment and the authority that women have to stand up for themselves, fight for their rights and those of others, to be delivered from oppression- which has been a struggle for millions in the past decades & centuries - makes any woman watching, feel proud of being a woman and restores the sense of self-belief in one's self. The rich history it portrays also promotes self-actualisation, self-respect and dignity amongst all else.

Though we consistently talk about women-to-women agenda's, it is equally important to recognise the opposite gender too. They are the only other gender: both genders should engage in participative leadership, share information and power. As much as men are assertive and competitive, women have too adopted those similar qualities, where I am of the opinion that having diverse qualities leads to maximized participation, diversified opinion and productivity in any course of action.
There is a cultural shift that has to happen between men and women of all generations, if we want to deal with female representation and leadership, we will have to deal with gender parity and embed the principles of gender equality. In that way, women and men alike can rise indefinitely and diminish income disparities, human rights violations, imbalanced opportunities and economic participation which are often the results of gender inequality. Therefore, I believe that women leadership can rise with the collaborative and collective generosity of motivating one another to achieve greatness.

Below I have only included a brief outline of the 10 things I consider one to use as a guideline, to attaining knowledge on being an effective leader in any [desired] field of expertise in the current century.

What it takes to be an Effective Woman Leader in the 21st Century? Less than 10 things!

1. Having a clear vision : This is a critical and crucial element to any daily and future orientated action or function. It is vital to make sure that you have a clear vision what is accommodated by a mission, objectives and strategies on how to achieve set goals. By executing and implementing the set plans - ensures the possibilities of moving closer to achieving the desired vision. Therefore, one has to concede with the fact that: A vision without action is merely time wasted.

2. Courage: Courage goes alongside confidence. One needs to have the confidence to not be easily discouraged, therefore you need to have the courage to see the vision you have play out in reality and strive to make it work, regardless of the battles you will face along your leadership journey. 
For many young women leaders, fear is usually primary barrier to opportunities in their various fields of interests, it is therefore important to know that courage is about being unfearful, confident, authoritative and assertive in your position of action. Have the courage to speak out when you have been granted the opportunity to and be the person you want to be.

3.  Determination: Having the drive and zeal to keep going, nobody says it will be an easy journey. Be determined to achieve the goals you have set for your course of action by keeping the vision of the overall execution in mind. Achieving goals usually requires some level of sacrifice and challenges, this is about having the tenacity of stay-power and focus. If you are determined to achieve something you believe in, trust me, nobody can stop you.

4. Perseverance: After the determination to achieve the set vision and goals for execution, It is equally crucial to have steady persistence in your course of action.  If you plan on getting something done, be persistent and patiently persevere (without giving up), until you get it.
Despite the obstacles, difficulties and discouragement you will receive in our journey, live with the belief that: The more you do something, the easier it will be and become more natural  the next time you do it.

5. Be informed: The current generation is a generation drowning in information - but - there isstill  a great lack in wisdom and knowledge. In the industry that you work in or pursue to work in, you need to be informed.  When you have knowledge about something, you will feel more confident about talking about it. This will help in building courage and speaking out even if your voice shakes. Get facts, analyse statistics and current trends, share that information and grow from it. Investing in education, knowledge and wisdom is the best thing you can ever do for yourself. Short Learning Programs at industry specific [Executive] Business Schools are a meaningful way to getting in-depth and detailed knowledge.

As a wise man once said: "Education is the most powerful tool which you can use to change the world" - Nelson Mandela.

6. Be strong & have a sense of self. Theo Sewo CEO of African Women's Development Fund acknowledged that being a strong woman leader in the 21st century requires one to have a strong sense of self. Being a "woman"  is not enough. It is of great importance to primarily know who you are, what you want, what you don’t want, what you will settle down for, what you will not tolerate and so forth. This will help you in building a character that will accommodate you in the daily proceedings of the industry you work in and in communicating with others with better intentions. This does not mean take yourself too seriously and forget to have fun, but rather - be the person that you want to meet. You will learn how to be more eloquent in your word, more assertive (not aggressive) and easily understood.

7. Focus! : My mother once said, "Jack of all trades tire faster.” I used to do so many things at once [which is not a fault because I strongly believe multitasking is an inborn female characteristic]. It’s not a bad thing to be a jack of all trade because you learn a lot in the process - but - there will come a time where you will have to choose. To choose and focus on one thing and do it exceptionally well is where ultimum success comes from. Though trying new things can be a learning process and route for discovery, doing too much in one time can leave you drained, confused, tired, and eventually can result in you losing your vision and direction . Also make sure that you invest enough time in yourself as much as you do invest in others. The word is: BALANCE.

8. Dare to be different: If we were all the same, what fun would living life be? Embrace your difference, your unique talents, your unique style. Your unique physique and mental orientation. Being different comes with being misunderstood, but rather be misunderstood than ordinary right? Always remember that your unique sense of self [no matter how different to others] is what makes you , YOU.

9. Mentorship and Coaching: Give in to being mentored and coached; form relationships with industry leaders, people who have been there done that, graced through all the challenges and succeeded over all exception. You will feel more confident in your work as you will be constantly reminded of why you do what you do. As a participant of the Fortune 500 Mentorship Program in South Africa, do condone mentorship and guidance as an effective professional strategy proven to work in elevating a person to the next level of their leadership or entrepreneurship journey.

Whoever you know that can mentor you, who is doing what you are doing no matter who they are: follow them. It will be to your benefit if not otherwise.

9. Resilience: Resilience is a characteristic many successful people acknowledge because they would not have else been successful if they did not have the ability to get back up after obstacles and challenges & continue to strive again! You have to have the ability to be determined and focused enough to stay confident and courageous in what you do, despite the obstacles and challenges, as a woman leader you will have to learn how to be persistent and patiently persevere to reach your goals. 
As much as mentorship and coaching can be applied to various principles to assist with being fervent in your doings, it is equally important to stay strong and have a sense of self, because after all else, when all is done and dusted...there will be more incidents that might not be related to one another where you will have to practise resilience, and that i strongly believe will assist you in your desires to being an Effective Woman Leader in the 21st Century.

I am empowered and thrilled about seeing more [young] women in supreme & powerful leadership positions and being effective women leaders in their fields of expertise and interests in the future.

Zanele Mabaso is an ardent advocate for the global youth community, with primary interest in sexual reproductive health, education and economic empowerment of young women and girls in Africa. A member of the Global Shapers Community - Tshwane Hub in South Africa and One Young World Ambassador, Zanele is determined to lead were governed for the liberation and Human Rights Representation of women around the world. She is the Global Ambassador for ILive2Lead International and strongly believes that exceptional young women leaders need to take the authority of being free - to inspire, motivate and lead those who are not as privileged.

   Twitter    : @zanelemabaso23
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What were you doing as an 8 year old girl?

Maybe you had just started second grade, getting an education, having fantasy Tea-Tuesday picnics and playing with imaginary friends in the garden in the guard of your parents watching your every move -entertaining themselves with the day's newspaper whilst smiling over it's brim every 2 seconds to make sure you were okay; safe and sound. 

Or were you forced into an early marriage at the tender age of 8, where a few hours after the wedding ceremony found your young self being physically, emotionally and mentally assaulted, viciously and brutally sexually harassed by your male companion [now husband] who is 40 years older. A pain so complex - no child is meant to experience, but this is a reality for many young girls from as young as 6 years old in countries where child marriage is ruled  legal. 

On the 6th of June 2014, an 8 year old child bride from Northwestern Yemen, Hardh in the Middle East, died on her wedding night after suffering internal injuries and sexual trauma from her betrothed husband. This particular incident sparked international outrage and called for global outcry to #EndChildMarriage in Yemen. It is believed the young girl died due to internal bleeding which was the result of sexual intercourse that tore her uterus and other organs.

It is not the first child marriage case to happen in Yemen nor around the world in countries where child marriage is still legal.  

“According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), between 2011 and 2020, more than 140 million girls will become child brides. Furthermore, of the 140 million girls who will marry before the age of 18, 50 million will be under the age of 15.”
Generally, we concede and acknowledge poverty as the primary reason why child marriage continues to happen, as the parents believe marrying them off to wealthy men or spouses that have the ability to protect them economically - will secure their daughters futures. This being relatively translated as girls can be seen as an economic burden, as a commodity, means of settling debt or disputes and means of securing political, social and economic alliances. We've seen most of these despicable trades happen after natural disasters such as the war in Syria, food in-secure Kenya, Young girls married off to "Tsunami widowers" in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India as a way to obtain state subsidies. Conflicts in Sudan, Uganda and Liberia where girls were abducted and given as "bush wives" to war lords by their families as means to secure protection. Abduction of over 250 girls in Nigeria as belief by Boko Haram that girls should be settled into early marriage instead of getting an education and the list goes on and on and on. Because a marriage fee is generally paid to the family of the child bride in favour of the union., In other countries this is can easily be titled as "Slavery", "Prostitution", "Rape" and other derogatory terms used when a person is forced into sexualy enticed engagements due to socio-economic and econo-politic pressure by those they are being traded by.

The children [below the age of 18] willingly accept marriage as their allotted fate. This element of coercion is then often involved when families apply social or emotional pressure or urge marriage for economic reasons or further advocate marriage as in the (misguided) that such a union will keep their daughters safe. In other countries, it is said blessings come when a child is married off before their first menstruation. There are many conspiracies as to why child marriage is made legal in over 100 countries around the world, but with economies that believe in the girl child WE [citizens of global economies, where child marriage is an abomination and strictly illegal] need to join forces in advocating for the ending of child marriages in developing countries for we have seen first hand the differences between a child with a well upbringing and one of that given to early marriage at a tender age.

Child marriage is a violation of human rights and a deterrent to development: Child marriage is a violation of article 16(2) of the Universal declaration of human rights, which states that “marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.” article 16 of the convention on the elimination of all Forms of discrimination against Women (cedaW) states that women should have the same right as men to “freely choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent”, and that the “betrothal and marriage of a child shall have no legal effect” -  UNFPA

Yemen child rights advocate Ahmed Al-Qureshi, instead of demanding more transparency from officials on reports leading to the international story. There should be a call to end child marriage policies in the country.People who have interests and belief in protecting the girl child - as we strongly believe that such practises not only result the child bride being subjected to physical, emotional and sexual violence in their forced marriages - but they lose access to health and most importantly education and economic independence in the future, with out these 3 elements; the child will not have the ability to leave the marriage as they grow older for they will have not learned how to think, live and respond to nature independently. Therefore this will continue to breed a future of more children sold to early marriage by their families. This will be a ripple effect of current proceedings and one that has and will continue being viewed as a norm - which is, but should NOT be!

Call to Action: Young women [and men] in countries where such practices are being condoned need to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves for fear and/or virtue of not being heard and work towards getting policies, legislation and regulations leading to Human Rights and the Protection Women and Children changed. Where the laws to be made are deemed favorable to young women and girls. With such - youth activists [Global Shapers Communities in the Middle East, One Young World Ambassadors and Ilive2Lead International Ambassadors around the world et al] need to forward the proposals and petitions to protect its girls from the devastating effects of early marriage by setting 18 as the minimum age for marriage by law.

Imagine, 8 years old getting married and dying a few hours later due to sexual brutality or having to wed off your own 7 year old daughter 9 years later? This act is a violation of human rights and a deterrent for development of of young women, girls and boys who are exposed to the life threatening and burdening experience. 

Help us advocate for the liberation of young brides in over 100 foreign countries around the world and let us via twitter @ZaneleMabaso23 #EndChildMarriage  

Zanele Mabaso is an ardent advocate for the global youth community, with primary interest in sexual reproductive health, education and economic empowerment of young women and girls in Africa. A member of the Global Shapers Community, Tshwane Hub in South Africa and One Young World Ambassador, Zanele is determined to lead were governed for the liberation and Human Rights Representation of women around the world. She is the Global Ambassador for ILive2Lead International and strongly believes that exceptional young women leaders need to take the authority of being free - to inspire, motivate and lead those who are not as privileged.