By Sithembile Ntombela, Acting CEO for Brand South Africa
Rallying people together is no easy task, let alone rallying a nation together in a shared vision to actively stand together and effect change.
Long-term nation building
Social cohesion emphasises participation and adherence to a shared, super arching identity. The Play Your Part initiative, now in its tenth year, is a long-term nation-building initiative, which recognises that the promotion of societal unity is an integral part of nation-building and articulates a country’s unique identity.
Brand South Africa’s vision is to be “A Nation Brand that inspires its people and is admired globally. It encourages South Africans to embrace and celebrate diversity and focus on the ties that bind us, rather than what divides us. Coming together helps us all to see and believe in something bigger than ourselves. A prosperous nation starts with people thinking that they can collectively make a difference to shift the status quo.
Such a society aims for an inclusive economy, increased interaction among citizens of different social and racial groups. When this is accompanied by a strong leadership that is supported by an organised, active and responsible citizenry, it can lead to prosperity for all.
“Getting people excited about active citizenship means getting everyone involved in their local communities at all levels, from towns to cities to nationwide activity. Active citizenship can be as small as a campaign to clean up your street or as big as educating people about democratic values, skills and participation. Active citizenship is an important step towards healthy societies, especially in new democracies like ours,” said Sithembile Ntombela, General Manager for Marketing at Brand South Africa.
Democratic Cooperation in focus
Active citizenship supports democratic cooperation based on the acceptance of universal human rights and the rule of law, values and diversity that include the whole community. In promoting active citizenship, Brand South Africa uses a combination of knowledge, attitude, skills, and actions contributing to building and maintaining a democratic society. Gaining this knowledge and developing and practising the skills occur at all shared social life levels.
Brand South Africa has implemented and spearheaded several programmes to educate South Africans on protecting, sustaining and growing the country’s brand. The notion that groups form and act in ways that respond to objectives and benefits are attributed to social change processes driven by collective action.
Through these actions, existing structures are challenged, social connectedness is improved, and people are empowered with the knowledge and understanding required to make informed decisions that have a direct impact on their lives. The Play Your Part initiative, advances Brand South Africa’s efforts to champion active citizenship as a pathway to social justice with a focus on socio- economic issues such as women’s empowerment, gender-based violence, education, entrepreneurship, health and youth.
Collective action required
Collective action fosters new partnerships and strengthens stakeholder relations through collaborative platforms with influential players, resulting in coordinated programmes and shared solutions that ultimately lead to change on a larger scale.
Despite these enablers and lofty goals of active citizenship, there are still some barriers to engagement and participation which affect active citizenship at an individual level. For example, increased levels of community fragmentation, loneliness and distrust, increased social inequality, long working hours, and the geographic mobility of jobs inhibit active participation.
Academic research however indicates that educational attainment, socioeconomic status, availability of free time, availability of information, community and family links, and personality characteristics such as individualism or altruism were all highlighted as variables that strongly affect active citizenship.
Understanding the challenges and limitations that contribute in this national initiative, the Play Your Part programme inspires, empowers and celebrates people in South Africa who lift the spirit of our nation. They lead by example and inspire others in their communities to contribute to positive change. This nationwide call to action creates ambassadors and champions who care deeply for one another and the environment in which they live and work.
Participation is stimulated from corporates and individuals, NGOs and government, churches and schools, young and old. It aims to encourage South Africans to use some of their time, money, skills or goods to contribute to a better future for all. Individuals, organisations, and corporates work together to co-create an active society that can solve its developmental challenges, promote sustainable nation-building, and be proud and patriotic.
Play Your Part raises awareness and encourages individuals to consider their levels of engagement. It provokes them to look at what influences their ability to become active citizens. Play Your Part is intended to help us reach the ultimate goal of our work: to increase the levels of active citizenship in South Africa.
In the past ten years this campaign has nurtured a spirit of pride and optimism through inspirational stories and achievements. It has made inroads in creating an active society that is capable of solving its own challenges. It spurs ordinary citizens to hope, trust and believe in a better South Africa for all. We will continue to develop the Play Your Part campaign to promote active citizenship and social justice in South Africa and beyond.
Play Your Part is a nationwide programme created to inspire, empower and celebrate active citizenship in South Africa. It aims to lift the spirit of our nation by inspiring all South Africans to contribute to positive change, become involved and start doing. A nation of people who care deeply for one another and the environment in which they live is good for everyone. Play Your Part is aimed at all South Africans – from corporates and individuals, NGOs and government, churches and schools, from the young to the not-so-young. It aims to encourage South Africans to use some of their time, money, skills or goods to contribute to a better future for all.
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