SAWIP hosted a dialogue in Cape Town on the 14th of April 2013 to examine the need for Social Innovation and the Role of Memory and Legacy therein.


SAWIP, InkhuluFreeHeid, Activators and guests engaging with the panelists: Ziyanda Kenya (IFH), Edyth Parker (IFH & SAWIP) and Mandy Sangor (District Six Museum). Advocate Mike Pothier (Parliamentary Liaison Office of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference) facilitated.


Ziyanda opened the discussion by challenging the pervading perception of an apathetic youth. Her proposition was that the challenge lies in the mobilization of youth and civil society for the achievement of socio economic rights and the deepening of democratic participation. For this there needs to be a new generation of leaders who have a multi pronged approach aimed at galvanizing individuals and civil society formations to bring about social innovation. IFH has the potential to achieve this.


Her assertion was that the youth are perfectly placed to bring about social innovation: they have optimism and are questioning the social order to uncover a new framework for Nation Building.


Edyth raised the problems, for the youth, with Memory and Legacy in the quest for a new society: memory is often distorted and the legacy, both the good and bad, does not ‘belong’ to the youth. They have the potential to exclude and divide. It is, therefore, she asserted, incumbent on the young leaders to educate upcoming generations on the dangers inherent in both.


Mandy, opened her contribution by connecting the approach of the District Six Museum which engages its visitors in reconstructing their memories of Apartheid, resistance and effective models of changing society to the need for a new creativity in social innovation in the upcoming generation’s battle for social justice.


She asked: How do young people today, who are just as divided as in the past, embrace agency, leadership and mobilize civil society for change? What sorts of innovative, collective notions can they come up with, establish and breathe life into which will bring about change through creative projects?


Discussion from the floor revolved around the value of a grand narrative; what the ‘unburdened generation’ can learn from the ‘burdened’ one; dealing with legacy; agreeing on a shared mandate of this generation; how the youth can develop a strategy and mobilize for nation building; why social innovation is not translating into entrepreneurship; our impatience for change; the inter-connectedness of problems; the need for leadership in everyday life; the need to fight for something like entrepreneurship and work; the need to rebuild institutions and how?


The group was left with final thoughts and challenges:


* Stories shift societies…not big political movements and structures.


* Problems change so solutions need to evolve.


* The need to unpack what we mean by social innovation and ask ourselves what we can do, practically, to make a difference in society to build our nation?



With thanks to the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation and Accenture for co-sponsoring this opportunity to examine current forces and opportunities and challenge ourselves to be agents of social innovation for Nation Building.