Every year Mandela Day sees hordes of people flocking to townships, orphanages, care facilities, early childhood development centres and food gardens to do their 67 minutes or a few hours of ‘giving back’. There are a few who don’t quite make it and their fallback is usually ‘oh well there is always next year’. I guess the thought of considering tomorrow or next week or every month or twice a year doesn’t quite prevail.
A few years back we saw this mad scramble that had people feeling it was the 18th of July or nothing and as a result we lauched 67 days of Digital Activism. This gives people a chance to partner and achieve meaningful outcomes rather than merely ‘give back’ and they can do this over 67 days. Fortunately for us, 67 Days from Mandela Day lands us right in the middle of the UN General Assembly in New York, which culminates in the Social Good Summit.
This year both Mandela Day and the Social Good Summit celebrate 10 years of existence and this year both events are promoting action and activation. Mandela Day promoted Action against Poverty and the Social Good Summit is planning constructive dialogues and activations around Climate Change. Our 67 Days Campaign is also overlapping with Peace Day which is observed by the UN on the 22nd of September and the theme for 2019 is Climate Action for Peace.
So what does any of this have to do with digital activism? A lot, actually. Other than the fact that these events provide us with our 67-day window, they are all about ACTION, taking a stand, not accepting the status quo, moving forward and seeking change.
Digital Activism is typically defined as the use of digital technology in campaigning. Our point of departure for Digital Activism is in a township context and seeks to expose our participants to the opportunities available in a Digital World or to showcase what we have done or plan to do to ensure that our township tech and creative community are relevant and have the necessary skills and resources to access opportunities out there. Our digital activism takes the form of a campaign with our donor community and partners that has an intense digital focus and is action and outcomes orientated.
Our 67 Days campaign has comprised of some pretty awesome interventions and activities this year which included
- Participants attending Media Tech Africa and Cultural Economies Digital Innovation Conference
- The showcasing of the short films made by the women using mobile technology
- 5 Teams sponsored to enter the 48-hour film festival (and attend the screenings)
- Finalising the plans for a recording studio at our eHUB facility in Diepsloot
- The scoping of the showcasing part of our planned digital media platform
- Our Creative participants attending animation, business, sales, social media and implementation workshops
- The launch of a Digital Lab that will train local youth as trainers, who in turn will teach children about robotics, gaming and coding.
The most exciting thing for us is that for the past 5 years we have hosted a Social Good summit meetup in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg and this year will be no exception. We will have dialogues around the themes about action for the environment and action for peace, and in the end we will see how we can use technology and a digital focus for good and to effect the change we seek in our township ecosystem.
The Digital Lab is an initiative by Ericsson that aims to get children excited about the possibilities of technology and begin preparing them for the jobs of the future . The programme is still fairly young, and this is the first roll-out outside of Europe. Training of the trainers begins this month in Diepsloot, and the courses will officially begin early next year. Watch our social media pages for Digital Lab milestones.