As young people in South Africa commemorate Youth Day on the 16th of June, The Young Independents wanted to take a moment and reflect. 

This year has been difficult for people and businesses all over the globe with the coronavirus pandemic changing the way we all live. The world is also going through a lot of changes with protests against racism taking place all over the United States, bringing awareness to yet another global issue, racism. And more closer to home,  we are living in a world where Gender-Based Violence is still an issue with more and more people losing their lives at the hands of others. 

Young people are now faced with the challenge of dealing with all of these issues and also picking up the pieces when the coronavirus dies down and life has to go back to some kind of normal. 

Kamogelo Matlala, 9, stands proudly with her sister Mahlatse, 4, at a June 16 Hector Pieterson Memorial Commemoration Day in Soweto. Picture: Antoine de Ras/ANA

None of us knows what that life is going to be like, especially for us young people, but all we can do is support and learn from each other through everything.  

The Young Independents reached out to a number of the Top 100 leaders from 2019 to get some lessons that they have learned during these tough times.  We did this with the hope that our audience will see that they are not alone. We are all facing challenges that we weren’t necessarily prepared for. But like the youth of 1976 that fought through adversity, this is our time to fight not only the pandemic but all the other issues the world is facing. 

This is what our youth leaders had to share: 

Marsha Leitch 

TYI’s SADC Top 100: Influencer

How did we ever suspect a pandemic to hit us in 2020? We were posting “20 plenty, this is my year, the big 2.0,” but little did we know by March our entire living routine would change.

At first, I was open to Covid-19, open to the fact that this is something we must deal with as a nation, but I wasn’t ready for the new adjustments and regulations. 

I thought, staying home and working from home would be easy, it’s been something that’s been on my wish list, you know, to work from home but I find myself working way more than I usually would. It becomes very tiring if you do not plan, how your day is going to play out or what you’ll be able to fit in in a day. This is the new normal. 

Marsha Leitch. Picture: Instagram 

The levels of lockdown are slowly lowering, and it’s becoming more real as I’ve lost a family member to Covid-19. Some of my family members are catching the flu. This makes me a little paranoid I’ll tell them to get tested because knowing is better than not knowing at all. This virus is very real. 

I know this period won’t be for long I know we will get back to living life again but not as we knew it to be. 

Covid-19 has taught me to rest when I need to, to take care of my well-being, and execute my job in excellence.  I am currently not using public transportation to get to work, I work from home for now but do go out in the field too. Using public transport makes me a little worried, I fear that I may get the virus there. 

There are times when you want to switch the world off, but you also don’t want to do that because you need to stay informed. We’re living in the unknown and that’s frustrating not knowing what may happen next or when the president will say, “my fellow South Africans,” again. 

I am hopeful for the future, I am hopeful that we will eventually get back to the new normal. With all the time on our hands, there must have been time to learn something new and we take that and treasure it. Use it or don’t use it, there is something each of us can take away from this crazy time we’re living in.  

We may lose those dear to us, and there is no band-aid for that, there is no easy way to deal with death this virus may bring but hold on and have faith, keep praying, keep believing that we will make it out of this time. 

Mike Bondo

TYI’s SADC Top 100 winner under the category, healers   

It appears that in times of crisis, as humans we connect even more strongly with our natural surroundings. In the short term, this may well have a beneficial impact on some aspects of our own lives, but nobody knows yet the full impact that COVID-19 will have on us.

COVID-19 itself is not good for any of us, as a young man, looking at the economy and the environment I can say that this pandemic is certainly not helping us achieve our goals. However, the pandemic is teaching us a lesson in human behaviour that could bring us closer in the future.  

In times of great uncertainty such as this, the most critical skill we are learning in our life is to be able to adapt as situations change. This is a kind of double-dealing: focusing on enduring in the current moment while you also trying to build toward thriving in a future that will look different, despite the challenging and stressful environment. 

Mike Bondo

Right now, through COVID-19 I believe the vital lesson lies in resilience and human flexibility. We see how quickly people can respond when faced with a common adversary. When I examine these realities and considering the fact that what enabled us to adjust to such profoundly challenging and unfamiliar new norms, we have seen how the ideas put forward by different countries and organisations now are very much in line with sustainable development goals, such as the elimination of poverty, good health and wellbeing, reduced inequality, and responsible production and consumption. And my hope is that we might be able to harness these lessons to reduce the risk of potential threats – in the future.

Angelo Louw 

TYI’s SADC Top 100 Healer

I have learnt that it’s best to chew a Chappie (bubblegum) if you plan on wearing a face mask for a long time. Our lifestyles have shifted in a big way. We have to get used with these changes, so I am learning to adjust. 

Getting used to the face mask is one of those changes. So far, I know that adjustable masks are more comfortable, and it’s always good to have chewing gum on hand. A bigger change for me is working from home. I’ve learned to be more strict with my working hours because you can easily fall into the trap of overextending yourself. 

We are already dealing with so much stress that you should not allow yourself to pile on more stress then you need to. I think now more than ever, it is important to strike that work-life balance because when you are working on your couch the lines become so fuzzy.

Angelo Louw. Picture: Instagram

If you have any more lessons that you would like to share with us please send them to with a picture of yourself and they will be featured during the course of Youth month.