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Desperately Seeking Some Good News.

I was amazed at the reaction I received to an article I wrote on my work with young people in South Africa – it was picked up by several South African websites in a country which seems desperate for some good news about itself.

My remarks were made following my nomination by the South African Chamber of Commerce in the UK for my work with township youth. Inevitably I sought to highlight some of that work as it’s important that underneath the headlines of political meltdown young South Africans are still achieving great things.

I’m back in South Africa now for the World Economic Forum and arrived the day after President Zuma was booed  and prevented from speaking at a May Day workers’ rally. It’s just the latest demonstration of a mood of deep frustration here that is threatening to engulf the country. President Zuma  stands accused of corruption and “capturing the state” for his own enrichment . Feeling are running high.

Even President Mandela’s eldest grand daughter Ndileka Mandela has come out and said she won’t vote for Zuma’s ANC again.She has launched her own campaign to persuade him to step down alongside triple alliance members like the communist SACP and COSATU the trade union body.

South Africa is approaching a critical time so important not to lose sight that while the politicians scramble for power the youth are getting on with it.  You can read the article here as it appeared on the S A People website:


Esteemed BBC Reporter with “Some Good News Out of South Africa”

At a time when the world is hearing so much negative news about South Africa’s political crises, BBC’s former Africa Bureau Chief Peter Burdin says we should look to the youth for the real story…

Peter Burdin and award

Burdin, an international journalism lecturer and BBC editor, was nominated this week – by the South Africa Chamber of Commerce in the UK – for his work in Africa… promoting development in the townships of South Africa.

In a beautifully written piece on LinkedIn, Burdin said he was humbled by having his efforts recognised “for it demonstrates all the great things that the youth in South Africa are capable of achieving.

“I’m thinking of the schoolgirls in the townships of the Western Cape who have embraced science, technology, engineering and maths learning in our Isuzu mobile classroom.

“Some of them have got so inspired by this project run by the social entrepreneurs MEDO that they have been designing the payload for their own satellite which is due for launch later this year.

“To see these young women who have never really been given a chance eagerly learning about space technology has been awe-inspiring.

“I’m also thinking of all the thousands of young people in the Warwick In Africa maths programme who see their test scores leap from 14% to 72% in just six weeks once they are shown what to do.

“I salute the young Doctor in Durban who runs an orphanage in her spare time.

“And I salute the ten-year-old girl in Joburg who’s getting 99.5% in her maths exams and who now is determined to become Africa’s youngest pilot.”

Burdin says: “All we hear from South Africa these days is negative news about Zuma, corruption and the Guptas. Perhaps its real story lies among the youth.

“South Africa’s youth are getting on with things in spite of the power struggles in Pretoria.

“Wherever I travel in the country I meet hundreds of energetic and entrepreneurial young people wanting to make a difference.

“The old generation should move over and listen to these young voices for this is where the future of South Africa feels in good hands.”

Burdin says he is grateful that the South African Chamber of Commerce is recognising that there is this “positive young nation keen to succeed – and that it is doing everything to present this true face of the country to the UK and the world”.


PETER BURDIN is an International Journalism Lecturer and Africa Ambassador at University of Central Lancashire. He was the BBC’s Africa Bureau Chief between 2009 to 2014, before relocating to London to be Editor of the BBC World Affairs Unit. He now dedicates his talents to his passion for Africa as the Director of Peter Burdin Africa Ltd where he is advising several leading organisations on the importance of Africa and helping to promote social entrepreneurs across the continent.

Read Burdin’s original article here.

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