A wise man once said, “Instead of moving to the greener grass that may or may not be on the other side, sometimes it is advisable to imagine that greener grass and start watering the grass  you currently occupy.” 

About six month ago, I was encouraged to apply for a fellowship opportunity with Democracy Works Foundation, the mother of Democracy Works Academy. I say “encouraged” because for someone who writes more often than not words fail me. I did not take much convincing for me  to apply, because even though I knew very little about DWA then, the topics I had to discuss as a form of application really spoke to me. My journey with DWA started in May 2019 at our first residential seminar which took place in  Cape Town. I was introduced to 29 other young fellows doing amazing work, not only in their lives, but in their communities as well. This was a group of vocal and opinionated young  individuals who stood firm and confident to such an extent that at some point I found myself questioning whether I belonged there because of the potential I saw in the room but that I did not see in myself.

The first residential seminar was more of unlearning and re-learning than any thing else for me.  Not only did I get to learn about the South African constitution, I also got to question and compare its theory against practice. I now hold my own opinion on our constitution, that even when the contradictions are considered, South Africa still has a powerful constitution in failing systems, which, in turn makes it questionable.

The second residential seminar which took place in Centurion themed “Intergenerational Dialogue” was personal to me, and to some extent it proved to be more than I could bare emotionally. We got to meet Mohammad Bhabha who provided insight on CODESA negotiations. We were taken on a tour to Lilies leaf, the Constitutional Court and Constitutional Hill. Without anyone saying this to me, this is where I learned that we cannot, not for a single day, take our democracy for granted because should this be the case, it can be taken away from us. 

Black people in South Africa have not been freed completely, and women in South Africa are still oppressed. Democracy is an everyday fight and an everyday struggle that we cannot afford to neglect or lose. The most difficult part was the ConHill tour was that it was on this day that I forgave everyone I have ever heard call young people ignorant and misguided, because even though I could only imagine what it must have been like for those who attempted to fight for our freedom to be detained under those conditions, just being the real one broke me… But under the same breath, something that continues to grow was planted in me on that very day. It was an experience I would not have been picked to be apart of, but it is an experience that has left a permanent mark on me.

The third and last residential seminar which also happened to be our graduation was hosted in  Parktown. I got to learn about writing and presenting proposals which is something of value for my self as a founder of an NGO and also as an aspiring business woman. We also had a presentation on CV writing and interview skills which I also fable as someone who is  still trying to find their footing in a professional and employment world. 

Democracy Works Academy has been a necessary stepping stone which has really grown my confidence and self belief. It has opened doors of opportunities that I plan to take advantage of.  I have grown as an individual. It has been a journey of self discovery and discovery of South Africas democracy. I now know for sure what I stand for and having been selected as a fellow to participate amongst other great fellows that I see a lot of potential in says to me that I am a young person with great potential myself. I have learned that the grass may be green on the other side, but do I want to leave the grass I currently occupy dead? Where is my impact? This grass is myself, my community, my country, this world.

My name is Felicia Ntuba Masuku. I am a woman. I am a daughter. I am a mother. I am a flower.  I am a lover. I am a fighter. I am a believer. I am a businesswoman. I am passionate. I am potential. I am a constant learner. I am a giver. I am a seed. I AM HUMAN!  A wise man once said, “Instead of moving to the greener grass that may or may not be on the other side, sometimes it is advisable to imagine that greener grass and start watering the grass  you currently occupy. “It turns out that man was a woman, and this woman is me.”