Meet Molatelo Mohale, a Jai Jagat fellow sharing his learning experience
The Jai Jagat fellowship brings together nine young leaders from ILC members from Africa, Asia and Latin America to learn and experience the ahimsa—the non-violence vision that guides the Jai Jagat. Through this programme, fellows develop new ways of looking at land issues from a non-violent perspective, improve their leadership skills in applying non-violence strategies, and connect with each other to strengthen exchange and collaboration.
Meet Molatelo Mohale, a Jai Jagat fellow working as a programme officer at Nkuzi—an ILC member in South Africa supporting rural communities to improve their rights and access to land. In this blog, Molatelo shares his experience during the first part of the programme, which took place in India for 21 days in December 2019.
NINE YOUNG LEADERS FROM THE ILC NETWORK ARE MARCHING FOR A BETTER FUTURE WITH THE ILC-JAI JAGAT 2020 FELLOWSHIP PROGRAMME.
The complexity of the land question in South Africa tends to sideline Indigenous Peoples. The national land audit findings reveal that 73% of the land is owned by a minority group of white people, which comprises a small 10% of the population. The State and Indigenous People shared the remaining 27% of which 13% is communal land occupied by 18 million people. Communal tenure rights are insecure. Communities are evicted unlawfully, and no legislation exists to protect them. In communal areas, Indigenous Peoples are faced with land grabbing by ‘large scale investors’, largely mining. When the land is owned by the State under custodianship of traditional leaders the situation is even worse: people cannot participate in decision making processes, which often reduce them to wage labourers. In all these struggles, Indigenous Peoples are charged by the police during protests and other forms of engagement, which results in casualties, injuries and arrests that deviate the social movement from the cause.
Nkuzi supports indigenous land restitution claimants, small-scale farmers, farm dwellers and farm workers, and people living in communal areas to assert their right to land. I engaged on land matters based on the realisation that land hunger is a global phenomenon that marginalises rural communities.
I joined the Jai Jagat fellowship to help rural communities, especially indigenous women and youth, and to learn more about how sustainable it is to build social movements when there are forces pushing in the opposite direction.
I understand that the Jai Jagat movement aims to engage the decision makers in the business and government at the international level because the latter have influence on development even at the grassroots level. This has triggered a desire to seek to understand how the multinational companies collude with governments to exploit natural resources and influence policy formulation while excluding poor and marginalised groups.
MOBILISING DIFFERENT ACTORS
Building a social movement is about interacting with multiple actors. Strategies and tools of Jai Jagat look at engaging and mobilising communities, all spheres of government, business and media, which resonates well and is of great uses for the work I do in mobilising communities, lobbying, advocating and campaigning for land right in South Africa.
I have learned that establishing a solid working relationship with decision makers is essential and can work in one’s favour.
For instance, during the march in India, the participants were hosted by a member of parliament as a token to declare the support and blessing to the campaign. This strategy can be adopted by civil society organisations to influence the decision-making processes and understand the chain of policy formulation.
In his first lecture, Rajagopal PV—Ekta Parishad’s President and a Gandhi activist who has been training rural young people over the course of 30 years and leading massive marches in India, including the Jai Jagat— has given us food for thought on how to build and support social movements. He said ‘’everything is advancing, including technology, and the social movement needs to advance too. It is important for the movement to deploy the non-violence strategy when mobilising and engaging with stakeholders. Unlike the violence approach, this strategy has potential to defeat the enemy as opposed to defeating the purpose of the campaign’’
Building on trust and diversity
A sense of trust and shared responsibilities within the movement is very important. The yatra brings together a mix of expertise, from medical doctors, activists, facilitators, lecturers, administrators. All come together to support each other and join forces to move forward. There is no a unique person leading everything; but rather a collective leadership that mobilises everybody. People have different roles and share a notion of valuing everyone’s contribution and efforts, which empowers those in association with the movement and builds a sense of ownership that sustains it.
Bringing the learning back
One relevant takeaway from my days with the Jai Jagat in India is how to build, strengthen and support social movements without interfering with what they stand for, nor politicizing the cause of Indigenous Peoples. For instance, the politicians in India declared their support for the campaign of non-violence, and offered a donation in the form of goods with no strings attached, which is unlike politicians.
For Nkuzi, our involvement in the Jai Jagat fellowship adds a new dimension, which can be adopted in our advocacy strategy and start populating the same in our constituency at the provincial level, rather than demanding a parallel or disconnected process of mobilisation.
In order to make the knowledge flow and be used by others, my experience is being shared with our constituencies, our alliance partners and our fellow rural villagers through planning and review sessions, workshops, protest actions, dialogues and debates. This includes the LandNNES alliance—the Land Network National Strategy in South Africa.
Nkuzi’sparticipation in alliances like Tshintsha Amakhaya and Alliance for Rural Democracy also provide an opportunity to encourage rural communities to adopt the non-violence analogy and start contributing financially to their own struggles. This can be done in communities, which can bear certain costs —do not need to be large amounts— of, for example, educational programmes and thus build greater ownership of their own development processes.
Young people have constructive ideas for inclusive development and for bringing about change on land rights. We are not only the future of this world, but possess great energy to do so.
We, the youth, and all other actors in society are called upon to create and cultivate a space for young people to lead this transformation. With the right opportunities to strengthen our capacities and raise our voices, we will become even more effective agents of change. Let's open up and take care of this space. Let’s see what we, the youth, have to say and can do. Let’s create more opportunities like the Jai Jagat fellowship, but also let’s make decision-making processes more inclusive for youth to be part of them. This is the way to curb the trend of ‘doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results’.
Meet Molatelo, known by his friends as Bullet!
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