The New Story series
by Aydn Parrott
South Africa, Africa and the World are drowning in a crisis.
The rising number of confirmed cases of Covid-19, the shutting down of entire countries,the fear, paranoia and uncertainty are causing much anxiety.
Dr. Martin Luther King jr famously said,
“The darkest hour of our struggle had become the hour of our victory. Disappointment, sorrow, and despair are born at midnight, but morning follows,”
Indeed even though it may seem dark at the moment, morning must follow.
I have decided to take a breather from what has been done in the way of storytelling and make space for what is and what could be done to tell a new story about South Africa, Africa and the world.
Young people across the world are feeling confused powerless and often hopeless.
This series of guest blogs aims to give those young people an opportunity to voice their frustrations, anxiety, optimism and hopes.
Together we can tell a new story…
Vlogs, podcasts, Instagram Live, Facebook Live and other platforms have opened up new opportunities to connect, converse and share stories amid social distancing.
In episode 8 we meet Jayson George, founder of Aspiration Inspiration who tells us how he is rewriting the story of the Cape Flats.
“I am just an ordinary boy from Mitchell’s Plain” says Aspiration Inspiration founder Jayson George
by Jayson George
The media is filled with negative stories about the Cape Flats – gangsterism, drugs, violence, GBV and other socio-economic issues are the order of the day!
You don’t have to look far to find something negative about the Cape Flats.
We have a degenerated reputation in society.
Seen as incompetent, gangsters/skollies, lazy, thieves, loafers and many other derogatory names that I have heard people call coloured people.
Because we speak a certain way, we are judged as unintelligent or not smart enough.
When people hear that you are from the Cape Flats, they hold their belongings a little tighter.
I always get the “one wouldn’t say you are from Mitchell’s Plain”… I felt that this all needed to stop and wanted to be part of the solution.
It shouldn’t be a surprise for people when they hear about success stories on the Cape Flats anymore, our success should be ubiquitous, and it should be normalised.
The fact that we are successful, competent and intelligent should come as no surprise.
Because of my own story, I thought I should get others to share theirs too and start on this journey of sharing the good news from the Cape Flats – the part not so often shared in the media.
In addition, I have always been passionate about motivating others and doing motivational speaking, especially at school around Mitchell’s Plain.
The aim has always been to encourage young people to dream and rise above their circumstances.
Achieve success against all the odds.
The pandemic then hit and with lockdown regulations kicking in, many people found themselves at home with a lot of free time and on social media.
I thought about ways that I could still reach people and contribute positively to society.
My girlfriend and I probably spent just over a month thinking about how we will do it – she assists with logistics and content for the platform.
We thought that with everyone resorting to video calls and being on social media (during and even without the lockdown) it would be the perfect opportunity to connect via zoom with successful individuals hailing from the Cape Flats and share their stories on social media.
We are active on YouTube and Facebook at the moment and can be found by searching for Aspiration Inspiration on either or both platforms.
The main aim of the platform is to inspire others and to share the good news about the Cape Flats.
I had a few name options like “Plein ‘n Simple” and “Flats and Klets” etc, but decided on this one as it is closely linked to a quote by Eugene Bell Jr. that I love – “Aspire to inspire before we expire”, which is also our slogan.
I heard it for the first time while serving as orientation leader for the Law Faculty at the University of Cape Town.
However, this is ultimately what we want to achieve; we want to inspire others.
Those who may have dreams, but are not motivated, that are at a point of giving up, we want to give them hope!
It is also for the person that may be on a journey to success, to let them know that they must pave the way for others.
Aspire – make it your ambition – to inspire others to achieve success, before it’s too late for you or for them.
And of course, it has a nice ring to it!
People from the Cape Flats are close to my heart because that is where I am from.
I know the struggles we face, having faced many of these myself.
I know what it is like to experience the peer-pressure from friends who are gangsters, some of whom have now died because of their choices.
I know what it’s like to grow up in a home where there is alcohol abuse, domestic violence, where both parents are unemployed and you sometimes have no food in the cupboards.
I went to public schools which did not have many resources – which made it even more difficult to actually know what opportunities are out there.
I crossed multiple fields and gang territories to get to my schools.
Literally dodging bullets to get to school when gangs decide to fight.
Gangsterism and drug abuse lurks on our doorsteps every single day.
However, there are many people who had similar circumstances and did not use this as an excuse, but a stepping stone to achieve greatness and do better!
There are many individuals from the Cape Flats who did not let their circumstances dictate their future.
They owned it and tenaciously pursued it!
We want to share those stories – what makes theirs powerful is the fact that it is relatable.
Someone like me, achieved what I am currently dreaming about.
I ask them to share how they got there, what resources they used, how they overcame the struggles that many young people are facing on the Cape Flats.
I ask them to share the success, not to brag, but to show that it is possible.
Despite the stigma, we answer the question – what good can come from the Cape Flats?.
We acknowledge that there are many socio-economic issues that are prevalent in our communities.
The media sometimes gets it right.
However, we want to change this narrative and we plan on doing so by sharing success stories of individuals who did not succumb to the gangsterism and substance abuse lifestyle, but rose above their circumstances to attain success in their respective fields.
This is someone like me, who comes where I come from, dreamed the way that I do, faced the struggles that I faced and still rose above it all.
We want to share successes from our own communities for that young boy or girl who needs that motivation, to see that someone from their community and circumstances has achieved greatness so they can too.
I can see what is possible and amongst all of the bad, there is hope!
There is a silver lining!
Aspiration Inspiration is but a conversation starter, the good part of the Cape Flats narrative cannot be made ubiquitous or a norm without people talking about it more than the negativity.
People must not be surprised when someone from our area achieves success and we should not want to be like people who live in the leafier suburbs… they should want to be like us!
This sounds quite far-fetched, but why can’t someone from Constantia look up to someone from the Flats?
Coloured people are also known for breaking each other down and this platform is there to uplift.
To make a little bit of noise about our success stories.
A light in all of the darkness that plagues our communities.
I know that our listeners are tired of the negativity and want to hear more positive stories.
Feel good stories of people who rose above their circumstances and achieved.
Ultimately, it is important for that young person who does not know how to make their dreams a reality or who thinks that their dreams are not valid – we want them to know that their dreams are valid and can be achieved! It is for that person who feels like they cannot rise above their circumstances, who feels suffocated by the socio-economic circumstances.
It is for that individual who is halfway through their journey and wants to give up.
It is for that person who thinks they are not good enough.
It is for the person seeking some motivation to continue.
We want to give our audiences tools to make their dreams a reality, hope to rise above their circumstances, and motivation to keep on going and reach success.
One of my mentors, Mr Andrew Koopman, once made an excellent analogy, I haven’t heard it elsewhere – a kid on a farm dreams of driving a tractor one day, at best, a bakkie.
The urban kid dreams of driving a Ferrari.
You can only dream about what you are exposed to.
The best role models for kids in the flats are gangster.
Their lack of belonging at home gets filled by the false sense of brotherhood and acceptance a gang provides.
Their poverty and wanting material possessions are also stimulated by looking at gang-bosses and their flashy material things that they own.
They are accepted, they are given employment, etc. and it is very difficult for a young person to see a better life than this out there.
I mean, try and weigh the options – 7 years to be an attorney vs committing petty crimes and earning quick money.
This is tough to compete with, but we are about transforming the mindset by showing the various possibilities that are out there.
A video interview is more interactive than a podcast or written blog.
It provides the visual aspect that could make the viewer feel like they are there as well, present in the interview.
I want them to see the person that I am interacting with, their body language, their passion, the emotion.
Those are best portrayed in a video.
Of course, some people are public figures and it’s great to see a local individual such as myself, interact with those people.
That in and of itself is already inspirational.
I consider myself a very ordinary guy, from Tafelsig, Mitchell’s Plain and I want the youth to see that we can move in circles bigger and more noble than what we face in our communities.
When we read newspaper articles about the Cape Flats we will mostly read about the socio-economic issues in these areas.
These negative articles and stories have shaped a view of the Cape Flats being a bad place.
As mentioned earlier, we want to change this narrative and we will do so by answering this question “Can anything good come from the Cape Flats?”
We answer this question by interviewing people from the Cape Flats who have obtained success in their respective fields.
Sharing their success stories will show that there are many positive and good things from the Cape Flats.
So it is a bit of a rhetorical question which is very loaded!
They must not even ask it!
People are not even shocked anymore at the bad news from the Cape Flats… it’s normal.
People are shocked when someone succeeds, this should be flipped.
I mean, I work with the most intelligent and successful individuals at my current employer.
Young and Old – experts in their fields!!
People from Ottery, Elsies and other areas on the flats that are leading multi-million-dollar transactions and cases.
They command their fields of expertise with such professionalism and competence! Excuse me for drawing on the very problem we are trying to address, but one sometimes forgets that these people are from the Cape Flats and could’ve been a gangster!
Personally, what it does to me I still fail to be able to put in words, but when I interact with these individuals in my place of work, I have hope.
Law is a very white and intimidating profession, but when I look at my people doing their thing, I know that it is possible for me to get there too! In 20 years’ time I want people to think about the good that has come from the Cape Flats and be shocked when they hear anything negative.
I want people to speak about the Cape Flats as a community that produces leaders of industry – which it has but is not often spoken about.
We hope to continue with the interviews and start uploading on weekends instead of Mondays.
The zoom interviews are proving to be success as we can do it from the comfort of our homes.
When uploaded, people can enjoy it in their own time and does not have to come on for a live session or anything.
Of course, in the far future we will look at hosting the interviews at a studio or hopefully have a television show!
We are about dreaming, so we are dreaming big!
Finally, I am just an ordinary boy from Mitchell’s Plain with a dream.
And I want others to dream and more importantly, pursue it and ultimately, achieve it!
I am constantly working on my dream and I want to encourage others to do so.
The baby steps count! Do a little bit every day.
Failures are part of the journey and once you learn to deal with failure and push through, nothing can stop you! I want to be better, I do not want to be a negative statistic and most certainly do not want any young person on the flats to be!
I will work tirelessly to Aspire to Inspire, before I Expire.
Follow Aspiration Inspiration on Facebook.
Jayson George is a 24 year old candidate legal practitioner at Bowmans. He graduated from the University of Cape Town where he studied on a Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu Scholarship.
Jayson has previously volunteered at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) where he is part of the Youth Policy Committee and also holds a 2nd dan (Black belt) in Kyokushin full contact karate a sport which he is very passionate about.