NOT MY CUP OF TEA
By; Nomfundo Mlaba
Conferences are not really my cup of tea. I always stereotyped them to be boring, suit and tie events where successful beings bored you with the details of their “from ashes to limelight” journeys to their success. And I am glad that I took that one chance with the African Renaissance Youth Conference because not only did it change me as a person, but it changed my total view of conferences. It made me understand the purpose and the true meaning of conferences.
The 9th African Renaissance Youth Conference (2014) was held at the Elangeni Southern Sun in the North Coast of Durban. A lecturer told me about the event- not that I was keen on attending but I just decided to go because saying no to her invite made me feel like I was being rude. So yes- if it was not for my conscience I still would have not had this revitalising experience.
The purpose of conferences is to share information, talk about ideas and socialise. Yes- the African Renaissance Youth conference sure did do that for me. One of my biggest highlights at this conference was the talk by Vuyiswa Qabaka, CEO of Abaphumelele Business Consultants. Qabaka’s presentation was titled “The future is not so hard to imagine.”
When Programme Director, Lynette Ntuli, CEO of Innate Investment Solutions and Fire Chief, introduced Qabaka, in my mind I was like, “oh lord here we go again, another being poor inspired me story”. It was when Qabaka opened his mouth that I realised that no- this guy’s story is different, fresh, motivating and purely South African. Qabaka did not focus on where he comes from, like a majority of us do. All he did was motivate young people and did justice to the statement that “Where you are coming from, does not determine where you are going.”
Qabaka focused on making sure that as young people we strive for success more than money. “Take care of the work and the money will look after itself” said Qabaka
All the speakers at this particular event followed the same pattern. It felt as though I was in a room full of Barack Obamas, Maya Angelos and Nelson Mandelas. I felt like I was at a get-together with my friends and we were just having a jol. The African Renaissance Conference taught me that one can never be a “self-made” being. We all need each other to reach our goals. Not only did I learn something, but I taught someone
something. I understood the power of storytelling and being great at what I do. But most importantly, I discovered the true essence of conferences and their purpose.
As the conference approached the end Ntuli said, “We are drowning in information, but thirsty for knowledge.” And it was the Africa Renaissance Youth Conference that enabled my power to convert information to knowledge.