Influencers

Igniting Social Change in Africa From a Continent Away

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Tapiwa Ndlovu wants to start a fire. A fire that ignites and empowers African youth to spark massive and positive social change.

Observing that there was limited free speech in many African countries, Tapiwa chose to create an organization to harness the power of the internet to generate political, economic and social awareness amongst African youth. Today, Ignite The Youth Africa, is made up of political and social activists from over 15 African countries.

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Originally from Zimbabwe, this Drexel University student understands the power of taking responsibility. Instead of pointing fingers and blaming previous generations for ills, he empowers others to be agents of the change they want to see. Tapiwa believes that the youth have the creativity, inspiration and platforms available to develop solutions that will positively shape their future.

We interviewed Tapiwa to learn more about what this driven young man has to say about life in Philadelphia, his entrepreneurial pursuits and who he would invite to dinner.

Your Story

I love meeting different people from all over the world. My journey from Zimbabwe to South Africa to Philadelphia characterizes my character to step into the unknown. USA and South Africa were countries that I did not have immediate family in. My experiences in both countries has allowed me to develop and find my purpose in life.

I work heavily with two organizations, Ignite The Youth Africa, and VirtuREAL LLC, a mobile app startup that is going to be a game-changing practice tool for public speaking. These two organizations encompass who I am: a people person who aims to affect positive change on people by using the skills and talents I have.

What is Ignite the Youth Africa?

Ignite The Youth is an international society of community, democratic, environmental, gender, political and social activists from up to 15 African countries.

We provide an online platform to connect the youth and engage them in debates about the issues facing Africa. We strive to encourage youths to not just watch the current generation of leaders dictate the future of youths, but come up with the solutions that will shape their future.

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What inspired you to start Ignite the Youth Africa?

The inspiration to start Ignite The Youth stemmed a need to develop a platform for young Africans to cross-pollinate and share ideas and perspectives through transformative dialogue.

This was necessary, seeing as the freedom of speech continues to be very limited across the majority of African countries. Thus, the unrestricted Internet became an avenue for free dialogue to develop amongst Young Africans from all over Africa – discussing all sorts of issues in an uncensored manner.

We wanted to ignite the flame within the African youth.

Why is the work of Ignite the Youth Africa important?

The work of Ignite The Youth is important in developing the perceptions of the Young African Generation by expanding their access to a variety of information.

Ignite The Youth exists because there is a need to generate economic, political and social awareness amongst the Youth who happen to be an overflowing majority on the continent (up to 65 percent of the total African Population is below the age of 35 years).

In a continent that seeks to develop itself further, the African Youth need to be enlightened individuals in order to carry Africa forward – thus, Ignite The Youth, Transform Africa. It is important to constantly make the youths of Africa and all over the world realize that they hold the power to shaping their futures.

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Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in 2 places:

1) My parents. They have sacrificed so much to be able to make my dreams a reality. Coming to the US was never easy given the financial situation in Zimbabwe but they have soldiered on and their humility and hardworking nature inspires me every day.

2) The everyday problems faced by college students that I see every day inspire me to be the best person I can be. These problems make me constantly think about how I can bring solutions and be a part of the solution.

What lead you to choose to attend Drexel University?

I had attended the Global Young Leaders Conference (GYLC) held in D.C and New York in 2011 and we passed through Philadelphia on our way to New York. I instantly fell in love with the city and its culture. It was neither too big nor too small and I knew this city was where I wanted to attend college. I was also looking for a school that would enable to obtain experience whilst being academically educated and Drexel’s co-op program fitted in with what I wanted to achieve. Hence, Drexel became my home as of 2013.

You get to invite 5 influential people to a dinner party. Who are they and why?

  1. Strive Masiyiwa
  2. Barack Obama
  3. Steven Gerrard
  4. The late Nelson Mandela
  5. Margaret Thatcher

These people have overcome obstacles, barriers and challenges to reach the pinnacle of their careers. They have also been servant leaders who believed in what they stood for and lived exemplary lives.

Standing out has never been easier. We got your back.

Antonio Neves is the author of '50 Things Every College Student Should Know.' He is a graduate of Western Michigan University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.