At DAG, we recognise the power of youth leadership that is shaping a new way of thinking about community development. One such instance is Cedric Zihle Matolweni, who along with his organisation is leading direct action to improve Nyanga. Last week at the Horizontal Learning Programme workshop, participants got the opportunity to visit Cedric’s company Msobomvu Nyanga Construction.
Cedric is one of DAG’s current Active Citizens Training Programme who is doing exciting and brilliant development programmes in his community, despite limited financial assistance and high instances of crime within the area. This young founder of Msobomvu Nyanga Construction, from Nyanga East, has defied the odds by refusing to work for anyone but rather choosing to provide employment and skills development for himself and other youth excluded from the mainstream economy. The training academy is an accredited construction SETA Training. Currently, Cedric is training contractors and running a construction learnership programme for 50 young people of which of them are 39 women and 11 are men.
Cedric is propelled by the need to fulfil his dream and being in control of his own destiny. Cedric briefly shared with the participants that his journey was not easy- convincing his mother that he did not want to work for other employers. Cedric also shared the objectives of his organisation with the group and gave highlights on how his programmes are achieving the desired impact in his community. “…right now if you go to the area that I live in, during the week you will not find any of the young people sitting on the street corners, they are all in school or at work doing something productive because I make it my responsibility to approach their parents as a young brother, talk to them, assist or encourage those young people to develop themselves….” He said. When asked where he gets his funding, Cedric encouraged his fellow ACTP participants stating that they should work for what they want and not wait for handouts or wait for someone to come and help them realise their dreams saying that. “… as a young hustler, I do not believe in receiving handouts for his organisation. Adding that he prefers to work for everything he wants and he believes that the fact that one comes from the disadvantaged background or community should not limit opportunity.
In addition to this, Cedric is also a founding member of the Brotherhood Project which he co-founded with his friends with the aim to help develop skills for the so-called “unemployable” ex-convicts as well as capacitate and encourage young school dropouts in his community to go back to school. According to Cedric, the introduction of the Brotherhood Project has witnessed positive changes in their community through the project’s proactive approaches. For instance, some youths through their involvement with their brotherhood project have laid the basis for innovative youth programmes and debates. This is, in turn, has created personal development for the youth in Nyanga.
This brave and resilient leader has earned trust and respect from the young and old people in his community just by choosing to stand up and do something to improve his community and the quality of his neighbourhood.