All systems go for SA youth awards

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Organised by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), the awards will be held to showcase the exceptional work of young people and organisations and the contribution they are making to South Africa and the world.

Being the first of its kind in the country, NYDA CEO Steven Ngubeni says the red carpet event to be held on Saturday will be both "inspiring and spectacular".

By having the awards, Ngubeni said they want to give hope back to young people who have lost hope for a better life due to rising unemployment.

The awards, which targeted youth between the ages of 14 - 35, will open young people's eyes to the awareness that South Africa is alive with possibilities, said Ngubeni.

"In synchrony with our mandate on social cohesion and the youth, we want young South Africans to learn from the strength, determination, commitment and courage of these ordinary South Africans and resolve to do it for themselves and their country," Ngubeni said on Thursday.

The awards, according to Ngubeni, are a culmination of a lengthy process of nominations, shortlisting, adjudication and verification from nine judges coming from the different sectors represented in the categories.

This list was further subjected to independent verification of the validity of the nominations and the claims made by nominators and nominees.

"This can only be viewed as being more transparent, participative and inclusive," said Ngubeni.

About 1 018 nominations were received for the awards, which were meant to coincide with Youth Month in June .

Of the finalists - which are spread across the country's provinces (including rural, peri-urban and urban areas) - 45% of the nominated people are young women and 55% are young men.

Those who made it to the final phase in the nine categories include:
* Peter Malati, a Post-Doctoral candidate who runs a chemistry project in six high schools in Nokaneng Circuit in Mpumalanga. He mentors rural learners in science and engineering
* Namhla Ngubo, who to took her family recipe of curried chillies and turned it into a profitable business that supplies major supermarkets
* Nkosinathi Freddy Ndlovu, a deaf activist, educator and counsellor who serves in various organisations
* Carol Manana, an award winning sports anchor for radio and TV
* Sir Stuart Ntlathi, who invented a 15-in-1 microwave oven, an electronic Vuvuzela and an auto shoe polisher
* Lebogang Bogopane, who works as a volunteer at a 24-hour centre for abused/abandoned children and women
* Ntombomzi Thelma Tsotetsi, who is a farmer and hosts workshops in her community teaching them about the environment, climate change and how to grow organic vegetables, among others.

Ngubeni said the stories of those shortlisted should and would serve as great inspiration to the youth of South Africa.

Winners from each category will walk away with a R50 000 cash prize, the runner up with R20 000, while the overall winner on the night which will walk away with a "Presidential Award" and R100 000.

Asked how the NYDA aimed to sustain the wards in the future, Chief Operating Officer Magdalene Moonsamy, said the country's youth had been waiting for awards that would recognise their work.

She believed that the inaugural awards on Saturday would have a "bang effect" that would attract more nominations for next year's event.

Ngubeni challenged provinces and the private sector to introduce awards similar to these to inspire youth.

"Our message is simple: youth of South Africa, your circumstances do not define your future. Limitless youth, rise up and take hold of your destiny."

The categories for the awards include Academic Excellence, Entrepreneurship, Extraordinary Champions (Differently abled individuals), Health and Wellbeing (including Sport), Public Sector, Private Sector, Science, Technology and Innovation (includes Medicine), Social Cohesion, The Environment, Arts and Entertainment (includes Music, Film, Literature and Dance) and The Presidential Award.

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