The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation invites young people between the ages of 15-25 to take part in its annual Youth Essay Writing Competition Against Racism, where they stand to win great prizes.

This year, over and above the general prizes, the top three winners will get the opportunity to join our Kathrada Youth Club participants when they embark on a leadership camp to Robben Island later this year.

With racism remaining an issue in post-apartheid South African society, the Foundation is calling on young people to share their views or experiences in the form of an essay. Participants can write on any one of the following four topics:

  • #UniteAgainstRacism,
  • Race is not real, but racism is,
  • Othering and belonging,
  • Racism in South African schools, a thing of the past?

The closing date for the submissions is Wednesday, July 31; essays will not be accepted after this date.

Essays can be written in any one of the official South African languages. Write ups should be from 1000 to 1400 words and should include a final word count. Each essay should clearly indicate the participant’s name and surname, their chosen topic, age, their postal address as well as a contact number that the essay writer can easily be contacted on.

Along with the Robben Island trip, the top three winners will also each receive laptops. In addition, the essay writer who takes first place will receive R2000 cash. The contestant in second place will be handed R1000, and the individual in third place, will receive R500.

The top three essayists will also be invited to the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation’s Annual Lecture in October, where they will deliver their winning essays.

“In its third year, the essay writing competition is the only one of its kind in the country. Over the years, we have been able to gather the thoughts and insights of young people, on an issue that is particularly important for our democracy”, said the Foundation’s Jessica Mofokeng, who is running the programme

The essay writing competition was this year officially launched during the Foundation’s Youth Sports Day event, hosted just before Youth Day. According to youth coordinator at the Foundation, Dawood Raphalalane, the competition attracted more than 700 entries in 2017, which increased to just over 1000 entries last year. Submissions came from across the country. “This demonstrated to us that young people are especially keen about sharing their thoughts and solutions to a problem that still in many ways, impact the structural fabric of our society,” he said.

“This year, we look forward to learning from the young minds of this country and hear how they think our society can be shaped and transformed to meet the type of vision articulated in our Constitution,” added Mofokeng, who began her interaction with the Foundation in 2012 through its youth leadership programme.

Essays need to be original. Plagiarised essays will immediately be disqualified.

Applications must be submitted via email to or via post, to P.O. Box 3240, Lenasia, 1820. Essays can also be hand delivered to the Foundation’s offices: Signet Terrace Office Park, Block B, Suite 2 – 19 Guinea Fowl Street, Ext 1, Lenasia, Johannesburg.

For more information, contact the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation on 011 854 0082.


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