Youth Radio Dialogues on Ubuntu in South Africa with Nina Callaghan (video)

By Templeton Staff
July 26, 2021
When we attempt to listen to each other, we begin the journey of understanding.

“I am because you are,” the classic definition of Ubuntu, is a concept of individual empowerment through community. Based in Cape Town, the Youth Radio Dialogues on Ubuntu program has created opportunities for young South Africans to listen and also to be heard.

Nina Callaghan, former Associate Director, and now Chair of the Children’s Radio Foundation discusses her work with the youth reporters and their two-year exploration of the concept of Ubuntu.

With the support of the Templeton World Charity Foundation, the South African youth reporters explored the concept of Ubuntu through storytelling and radio reporting. The sentiment of Ubuntu is commonly understood in African society and the children were excited to examine the idea through direct practice and community outreach.

“In South Africa, the dominant narrative in mainstream media is youth are apathetic, violent, hopeless. Young people have very few spaces where they can express themselves, where they can contribute to opinion, and where they can advocate for things that they need in their lives,” according to Callaghan. The young reporters embraced the positive and respectful principle of Ubuntu and have been able to disprove these stereotypes.

Since 2006, the Children’s Radio Foundation has trained 1,700 youth reporters in six African countries. “We’re looking for young people who are curious about themselves and the world around them. We are looking for young people that want to make a difference,” says Callaghan. “Radio is life, it’s intimate, it reaches into homes, into cars, into public spaces. It’s immediate, it’s alive in the moment.”

The Youth Radio Dialogues on Ubuntu program has a listenership that at times rivals national, commercial broadcasters. The success only begins there, the further measure of its impact has been felt through the community and empowering the diverse voices of the future.

Highlights from this installment of our award-winning “Stories of Impact” video series:

  • “When we attempt to listen to each other, we begin the journey of understanding. We begin to dismantle our stereotypes and I think that we are more likely to be compassionate,” says Nina Callaghan
  • Youth intervention is seen as one of the strengths to come out of this project. Developing minds are encouraged to practice the positivity that is Ubuntu and it is hoped that they will continue to pass along the spirit to future generations.
  • More insight from Nina Callaghan: “Just the act of getting up and going about your business and being nice to people and practicing Ubuntu despite all of the signifiers in your life that tell you that you are less than. That sense of resilience and forgiveness lives as a grace in this country every day.”

Learn more about the TWCF-funded research project related to this episode.

Read the transcript from the full interview conducted by journalist Richard Sergay featuring: Nina Callaghan, former Associate Director and current South African Chair of Children’s Radio Foundation; Youth Radio Reporters.


Templeton World Charity Foundation’s “Stories of Impact” videos by journalist and senior media executive Richard Sergay feature human stories and critical perspectives on breakthroughs about the universe’s big questions. The inspiring narratives and observations in these award-winning videos portray the individual and societal impacts of the projects that bring to life TWCF-supported research.

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