Adapt and Change – Amandla’s Campaigns

One of our more recent grantees, Amandla.mobi, has been pretty busy over the summer, adapting its approach to problems and responding to the needs and wants of the community. While they had initially hoped to mobilise large numbers of young people to campaign for better public services for young people through the creation of Youth Desks in different municipalities. While their efforts did generate a response from the local mayor and the campaign attracted more than 200 people, Amandla found that it wasn’t the burning issue that would be capable of mobilising a mass campaign of 1,000 or more. So what to do?

Well, firstly the problem is a common one. NGOs start a campaign or project but quickly discover it doesn’t seem to be attracting as many as they’d hoped or that it’s not leading to the change they envisioned. In these situations, doing nothing and hoping that numbers will pick up is not an option. A better choice is often to ramp up your efforts, spread the word and try to sway people or drive them to your campaign. If the issue you are addressing, however, is not sufficiently interesting or pressing, your best campaigning efforts may come to nothing. In that case, changing the focus of your campaign completely may be the only way of achieving the level of change you had anticipated. It’s this final and most radical option that Amandla has opted for. Out of their initial campaign for better youth services, they have now changed track completely to tackle two separate issues and challenges that they hope better reflect the needs and desires of their constituents:

  • Supporting the widows of the Marikana Massacre: A campaign to inform ordinary South Africans of what happened at the Marikana miner’s strike when dozens of striking miners were killed in 2012. Using a combination of Mxit, USSD and web, the campaign was able to gather 3,000 signatures in support of broadcasting a documentary about the issue – Miners Shot Down – on South African television. In addition, Amandla are also working with the miners’ widows to get the help and support promised to them, but not yet delivered, by the mine’s owners.
  • #FutureNowSA campaign with Activate! A campaign to source ideas for change from South African youth via mobiles. A popular vote will  be used to select the best ideas and an event held where they will be discussed and debated and – hopefully – incorporated into South Africa’s National Development Plan.

The idea behind the change in course is to garner more interest in Amandla’s work and to get South Africans more excited about the issues that really matter to them. It will be fascinating to track their progress over the coming months and report back on it here.