Kgotsi Chikane was once told that the definition of poverty is having no choices. That message resonated deeply, and Kgotsi has dedicated his life to striving to give people choices.
Son of theologian and apartheid activist Frank Chikane, Kgotsi is blazing his own trail of activism in progressive youth politics as the president of InkuluFreeHeid, a non-partisan youth-led social movement that seeks to unite South Africans, particularly youths, behind efforts that help solve major socioeconomic challenges, deepen democracy and enhance social cohesion.
“What we try to do with InkuluFreeHeid is open up or create spaces in which young people can engage with policy questions within the country. We run workshops on policy development and deepening democracy, and we get actively involved in policy formulation regarding youth issues,” says Chikane.
A Mandela Rhodes scholar with an honours degree in public administration from UCT, Kgotsi is now studying for his master’s at Wits.
Having played a prominent role in the successful #FeesMustFall campaign in November 2015, Kgotsi hopes his work will be seen more as permanent than innovative. He remains inspired in his efforts by constantly reminding himself that we live in an inherently unfair society.
“Our country is set up to acknowledge class and race before knowledge and ability, and it shows across the board. It makes me realise how far we still need to go as a society. I’m committed to doing my bit to change the system — it’s my long-term ambition.”
Chikane’s motto in life is Perfer et obdura dolor hic tibi porderit olim — be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you. — Linda Doke