South 2 North

Who will lead the global South?

South2North asks how today’s young leaders will tackle the challenges of the future.

No subject is off limits – Redi Tlhabi talks frankly to inspiring and intriguing personalities from across the world.

How will today’s young leaders tackle the challenges of the future?

On this week’s South2North, Al Jazeera correspondent Haru Mutasa stands in for Redi Tlhabi at the One Young World conference, being held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Haru talks to Pakistani author and political commentator Fatima Bhutto and two ambassadors to The One Young World Summit – Ilwad Elman from Somalia and Pradiip Alvarez from Venezuela. 

Haru asks Bhutto if coming from a political dynasty has taught her different leadership styles.

“Well some have inspired and certainly some have been warning signs,” she says. “I think growing up in a political family the real vantage point you have to see is how power works. And power is a dangerous, dangerous animal …. It is to be treated with the deepest caution. It’s dangerous, actually, in anyone’s hands. And to see that up close has been an education. As a young country Pakistan has been held hostage by a very few people with a lot of power. Power is probably safer the more you decentralise it, the more you’re able to spread it.”

Elman returned to her homeland of Somalia, from Canada, where she grew up, at the height of al-Shabaab’s control. She helped found Sister Somalia through her family’s Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre in 2011. The centre helps sexual violence victims in Mogadishu. Haru asks Elman how she thinks young leaders need to act in order to inspire those around them.

“In Somalia, 70 percent of the population is below the age of 30,” she explains. “The country has been 22 years in conflict. That means the majority of the population has only ever known war. It’s as little as someone coming from a country that has been peaceful, coming back to Somalia and spreading messages of peace, telling them what it means and what it could mean for them if they contribute to peace.”

Alvarez discusses how the leaders of Venezuela have been less than inspiring at times, frustrating the youth who are looking for strong leadership on the serious issues they face, such as violence.

“We sometimes feel like we live in a circus in Venezuela because the president likes to blame our problems on external factors, without really focusing on what’s going on in the country. Whenever there is a big issue going on, there is always a reason from outside, you know, maybe the United States did it, like they brought cancer to the country …. Circus-like ideas that don’t really make sense …. I hope it will change. I think the government can do a lot but we need new leaders.”

Bhutto concludes that the only way young leaders can move forward is to not be afraid to speak out against injustice.

“Pakistan has a history of silencing those who would speak out,” she says. “The lesson we have is very clear in Pakistan: if you are an inconvenient voice, your voice will be removed. But on the other hand, silence is not really an option; it can’t be an option, especially for young people.”

The group discusses their hopes for the future, the leaders they look up to, and the values they hope to lead by in the future.


South2North can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 1930; Saturday: 1430; Sunday: 0430; Monday: 0830.