My YALI Experience

“I advise that you empty yourself and accept to learn because here; in this room we have seen a lot of egos crush!”


Derrick Manyisa YALI RLC Southern Africa Curriculum manager

Those were the words that greeted me on orientation day at YALI RLC Southern Africa .

I am glad I took the words to heart because nothing could have prepared me better for the four weeks that followed these remarks.

I found myself among 135 young Africans with astonishing energy levels and an intimidating unfettered will to express themselves. They represented 14 Southern African countries!

I soon realised in the first week discussing cross cutting issues that I had a lot to learn and unlearn about my society, Africa and the world as a whole. Slowly I uncoiled out of my shell, started asking myself uncomfortable questions and thus, began my journey of self discovery and leadership growth.

I came face to face with  another side of me that I was not conscious of until I came into the program. Pressure brings out strengths and weaknesses we often never knew we had. I am grateful YALI’s environment was safe to make mistakes and grow.

Leadership is about embracing diversity. For the first time in my life, I listened to a member of the LGBTQ community opening up. It was enlightening because where I come from, any other sexual orientation other than heterosexuality is criminalised. I appreciate the young people who dug from their  experiences to share and help us grow.

YALI also taught me the joy of volunteering. On 18 July,  celebrating Mandela’s 100years we visited a children’s home. As I painted the buildings the brush also painted the walls of my heart with satisfaction. I carry the paint to this day.

Volunteering at a children’s home on Mandela Day 2018

I was in the business development and entrepreneurship track. I was taught how to start,run and sustain a business venture. In  intense yet fun filled sessions we dissected what it means to be an entrepreneur.

They say your network is your net worth, I believe YALI made me rich in this regard. Networking was the highlight of the program.

You may be reading this contemplating of applying to the YALI program, my advise is go for it! This is   a life changing leadership training.

I would like to thank YALI RLC Southern Africa and it’s partners for affording Young African Leaders an  opportunity to become equipped to transform Africa.

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