Amonge Sinxoto is a co-founder of Blackboard Africa, a non-profit organization, for youth by youth, intended to empower the African youth through leadership and mentorship training.
- What inspired you and your co-founders to start Blackboard Africa?
The inspiration to start Blackboard Africa came from Zingisa (co-founder) and my realization that the African youth were actively seeking out spaces or avenues to express their voice. We felt that it was important for youth to be at the forefront of driving the narrative of the continent into a new direction and came to the conclusion that the tools needed to be equipped for that was leadership and mentorship.
2. What are three things you learned as you’ve been working on Blackboard Africa that you wish you had known when you started?
- I wish I had known that not everyone around me was going to understand or support the initiative that I had taken and that it was not something to be discouraged by. Of course, it's always great to feel like you have the support but it's essential that I had a self-driving passion that wasn't dependent on external forces because, in the end, the most important thing was the lives we had impacted.
- I wish I had known that imitation is not threatening. When people started to form similar platforms I was a little taken aback. But I wish I had known that firstly, no one could duplicate what we had created because they didn't know our vision and that was never something to be distracted by. Secondly, that it was actually positive that more of these kinds of spaces had been created to support African youth and more people could be impacted.
- I walked into it with so many ideas and projects that I wanted to start right away. It's important to zone in on fewer tasks or projects and implement them consistently and then contribute to your plate gradually. That way you follow through on all your plans but maintain consistency and sustainability.
3. You’ve just recently finished high school – how have you managed to balance the demands of running a program and meeting all your school obligations?
I've recently discovered that I had a lot more time available to me than I was actually making use of. I always made it a point to prioritize my school work but there would always be spare time. I just concentrated that time into something constructive. We make time for the things that we care about, this was one of those things so there was always a gap to give it attention.
4. What’s your advice to young people who want to see a better world, who want do something about it, but who are not sure how to start?
You are always in a position to change something, start with what you have from where you are and continue to build and grow. Don't underestimate your influence or reach. It's important to not commit to solving everything on your own, identify like-minded individuals who care about what you are trying to change and split the responsibility.
5. As a very engaged young person, do you feel that there have been improvements in recent years in young people being taken seriously by decision makers? And where does there still need to be a lot more change/investment?
I have personally witnessed a great excitement toward young people pursuing something for the greater good. People that are extremely interested to hear what young people have to say. Needless to say that there's many I haven't interacted with who might not carry that same fire. But the responsibility lies on us to make our voices heard just as much as people in power should seek out input from the youth.
6. How do you stay positive and motivated to do what you do?
Other young people reaching out and expressing the importance of the platform also just reminds me what Blackboard Africa means to them and keeps me motivated to continue running the organization.