Mobilisation is critical to the survival or in the very least, healthy functioning of our communities. More importantly, mobilisation around activities that are fun and superficial. Activities outside of the realm of politics and formal proceedings. These activities can be weekly card games at the local hall, monthly youth events like sports and music or simply getting together to organise an event for the elderly twice or more times a year. Uniting and engaging in such activities as communities is instrumental in fostering empathy, discipline and significantly, group action. It is through mobilisation or group action that people start lifestyles and culture. Sensei Monwabisi Njomba, a trained martial arts teacher, is using the lessons he learned from his craft to cultivate discipline through mobilising the community of Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township.
Before moving to Cape Town where he now runs a dojo (a martial arts training centre), Sensei Njomba got his start in karate, kung fu and other martial arts as a young man in Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape. The discipline and fulfillment martial arts instilled in him coupled with his lifelong passion for the youth led him to open a gym where he could bring young people together through health and fitness. He then used this opportunity to teach the young people of Khayelitsha self-belief, respect, focus and responsibility. Sensei Njomba says that his training has helped him keep his head high and wants to impart that to the youth in his surrounds.
Sensei Njomba has established the Njomba Fitness Academy to encompass the varied courses he facilitates to draw more people from his community. He also teaches basic self-defense to women, aerobics, organises fun runs and “fitness explosion” showcases. The variety of activities offered at the academy has also made it popular amongst the older residents of Khayelitsha. The academy is currently supported by generous residents and donors and is open to any funding or support.
Sensei Njomba’s story is not only one of a local good Samaritan. It is also an example of how we inspire the changes we want to see. Mobilisation is key is affecting those changes, especially at a larger scale. Most of us want our communities to be safer, united, healthy and prosperous. However, embracing these ideals is not enough. People often only act or give their support when they feel reflected or considered in a cause.
The sensei could have lauded the ideals and message in his heart on a platform which might be more visible or honoured. His audience might have respected his platform and the status or education that afforded him that platform and then leave just as they came. On the other hand, Sensei Njomba realised that for youth to do rather than just know what is right, they have to associate those ideals with their lifestyles. The sensei did just that by taking martial arts, a discipline that is a huge part of popular culture, and relating it to life lessons and ethics. Mobilisation teaches us that a message, no matter how good or pertinent, is received more effectively when it reflects its audience.