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How social media influencers use their voice to inspire their peers

Athi Mgoqo. Picture: Instagram

Athi Mgoqo. Picture: Instagram

Published Jun 16, 2022


The Youth of 1976 took to the streets of Soweto to fight for their right to be taught in the language of their choice. They fought for quality education.

Nearly five decades later, the youth of South Africa is still fighting for access to affordable, quality education.

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They are fighting against gender-based violence. They are fighting for inclusivity, employment opportunities, equality, crime, mental health issues and then some.

The youth of the 21st century say they use platforms such as social media to empower one another and inspire change.

In celebration of the Youth Day, IOL Entertainment caught up with influencers to tell us what Youth Day means to them and how they are using social media to impact change and inspire their peers.

Aaron Perry: Dancer, content creator and photographer

Youth Day means that as the youth of South Africa and the world, we are strong, smart, powerful and talented. We are the leaders of tomorrow and the future generation that will bring light to the world.

As young people, we are striving to express our true selves without the constant issue of social construct and norms. We are also fighting to be heard about the issues we are facing regarding global warming.

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I use my platform to express myself as a strong, young gay male who can do anything that I put my mind to. I love using my platform to inspire others that can be whoever they want to be, without feeling like they can’t be true, authentic selves.

@aar0n_perry_ I always say “ i look better in ut anyway” 🥲😂🫣#Comedy #aaronperry ♬ Oh my gosh I just love your matching dresses - Floof

Shawnee Reid: TikTok star

Youth day is a symbol of the power that the youth of our country holds. In a sense that we are the ones that will be future leaders and trend setters in the community. It also symbolises the drive our youth has which is admirable.

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I think a lot of youth aren't able to afford education, especially, on a tertiary level or we spend years trying to pay off loans in school fees. Therefore not everyone has access to education which is a building block for our careers and futures.

Social media can be compiled of a materialistic and picture-perfect type of lifestyle which could influence the viewer to feel like they need to have all these material things or have “no imperfections” in order to be accepted by society.

This can cause a lack of self-confidence in one's self. So I often try to keep my content as natural and as real as possible so that people may know that I too have imperfections and insecurities about myself and face struggles in life too.

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Sometimes watching light-hearted content can make the viewer laugh and be reassured that we are all just human at the end of the day and that NO one is perfect!

@shawneereid Eish lol 😂 #reidgang #umlando ♬ uMlando - 9umba & TOSS & Mdoovar

Zee Nxumalo: Singer and Tik Tok star

Youth Day is a celebration of youth and the challenges that we’ve overcome in the past.

I think we have so much potential as the youth but a lack of resources has limited us from reaching our full potential because there is so much we can do, but the resources we lack make it difficult to attain certain things.

Social media is free, so young people can express themselves freely on social media.

As a musician and a social media influencer, I use both platforms to inspire the youth to dream big and remind them that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it and work hard toward achieving it.

@zeenxumaloza #duet with @thatsdax ♬ DEAR ALCOHOL OPEN VERSE CHALLENGE DAX - Dax

Athi Mgoqo: Actress, content creator and musician

Youth Day is a reminder of how the youth fought for equality in education during the apartheid era.

For me, one of the greatest challenges that the youth of today is facing is mental health.

I use social media to bring humour and comedic relief in a time where perfection is the standard ... there’s so much pressure to be perfect. And I think it’s important to not always take ourselves too seriously.