Founders

Paul Modjadji

Paul Modjadji is a two-time world dance champion and recipient of the Mandela Washington Fellowship award through President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. He is one of South Africa most acclaimed dance stars and made history by becoming the first South African to win the Dance Star World Championships, in the solo jazz category, in Croatia in 2011. Following his trailblazing achievement, he was crowned Top Dancer in the world by Talent America Showcase in New York in 2013.

As an ambassador for the European Star Dance Union, Modjadji has helped expand art education across the world and pushed for dance to be seen as a sport as well as an art form.

Modjadji choreographed Africa’s first dance film, “Hear Me Move”, as well as several high-profile awards shows including the SA Sport Awards, Namibian Annual Music Awards and MTV Africa Music Awards. He also had the honour of choreographing works for two presidents at the closing ceremony of the South African Year In China event.

When not choreographing or teaching dance, Paul leads the non-profit “Leaders Who Dare To Dream Foundation” which he founded with the aim of extending arts education and leadership skills to townships across South Africa.  Founded in 2011, the foundation is a youth development leader, hosting workshops, conferences and youth discussions worldwide.

Between August 2016 and June 2017, he visited ten African countries including Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda as part of the Breaking Down Borders Africa Tour. The tour, which is the subject of an upcoming documentary film, concluded with the Breaking Down Borders Africa Youth Summit.

The now annual gathering brings together young leaders from over 18 African countries for a week-long conference during Africa month.  This year’s summit was held with the goal of fostering youth collaboration, networking and partnerships.

Modjadji had been recognised for his rich contribution to philanthropy, dance and leadership with several prestigious awards including the Global Young Leaders Award, the South African Youth Award and the Inyathelo Philanthropy Award.

He also serves as the official brand ambassador for the City of Tshwane, South Africa’s capital city.

 

Nthabiseng Modjadji

I’m Nthabiseng Modjadji, a writer, copy-editor, youth activist and agent of change. Modjadji is a Rhodes University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Political and International Studies. Upon graduating in 2012, Modjadji joined Entrepreneurial magazine, Kickstart Magazine, as a senior copy editor and current affairs columnist. Modjadji’s work focused on youth politics and participation as well as African affairs. In 2014, she travelled to China to contribute as a writer and aide for the South African Year in China programmes. Following Modjadji’s time in China, in 2015, she travelled to rural North Eastern Thailand where she taught English. Having travelled extensively across Europe and Asia, Modjadji return to South Africa and enrolled to the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute’s (TMALI) Public Policy & Analysis for Africa’s Development Programme. Inspired by TMALI’s call to action for its alumni to contribute to the resolution of the persistent problem of African under-development, I co-founded the Breaking Down Borders Africa Initiative in 2016.

The Breaking Down Borders Africa Initiative is a pan African platform led by African youth for the benefit of African youth. The Initiative is inspired by the vision of Enabling African youth to connect and collaborate towards the prosperity of the continent. To this end, the Initiative is invested in bringing all Africans together, to dissect the issues they are faced with and to find solutions that can be applied in resolving the identified challenges. The initiative particularly seeks to address gaps that hindered youth development work within social and entrepreneurship landscape including: Lack of access for African youth to trade across borders and Lack of social activism platforms for collaboration between young leaders and activists. 

These identified challenges are what inspired the Breaking Down Borders Africa Tour which toured 10 African countries with the purpose of seeking youth collaborative opportunities, advocating for quality accessible education and youth entrepreneurship while exploring the toured countries’ arts, heritage and tourism. The tour travelled to Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda, Botswana, Lesotho and Senegal between 2016 and 2017. Through the tour, the BDBA Initiative collaborated with other youth led organisations and youth activists from across the continent. Modjadji designed and coordinated a programme in each country that included dialogues, African film screenings, cultural exchange, school visits as well as the production of a documentary that chronicled the initiatives travel through the continent but also profiled young African youth who were bringing about positive change in their respective communities.   

As a result of the network of young leaders created through the tour, the need for African youth to connect was highlighted and the BDBA Initiative launched the Breaking Down Borders Africa Youth Summit.  The annual Summit is hosted with a view to bring young leaders in different fields and professions together to engage on these issues and to craft a way forward that would see the youth driving the change. Since its launch in 2017 The Breaking Down Borders Africa Youth Summit has hosted 250 young leaders – leaders in education, entrepreneurship, socio-political movements, Innovation and technology, creative sectors and corporates. The summit has cultural and historical tourism, education, social cohesion and skills development elements. Following the success of the 2018 BDBA Youth Summit, we launched the second cycle of the BDBA Tour through which, the initiative has extended our reach to the diaspora traveling to Jamaica and the United States of America, connecting with organisations such as the Marcus Garvey Foundation and the Martin Luther King Foundation. Other scheduled stops for the second cycle include Ghana, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Egypt.

My work can be amplified by recognition and support by the African Union and its respective organs but particularly the AU Youth Division. Funding and support in-kind of our programmes (the Africa tour and the BDBA Youth Summit) as well as content production and research support toward our policy lobbying efforts. 

Sibusiso Mahlangu

Sibusiso Mahlangu is Tshwane University of technology graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Textile Design and Technology. After graduating in 2011, Mahlangu joined Textile company “mesaw” as a product designer and assistant in, in 2013 he became a partner and Head of Design at mesaw working an collaborating with fashion house such as St Lauriant (Brooklyn), Somor Set Jane (South African Fashion Week 2015), opening two textile shops one in Norwood (The Factory) and one in Melville (27 Boxes). In 2016 Mahlangu joined media company Digi Clear Concepts as a Creative Director and Partner, working on numerous corporate projects with clients such as MASSMART, INITIATIVE FOR STRATEGIC LITIGATION IN AFRICA (ISLA), Innovation Hub (Pretoria),  government projects in the Municipality of  Phalaborwa, entertainment events such as Phangweni Vibes (Phalaborwa) , Maftown Meets Pitori (Mafikeng) , String Jump Off (Tshwane & Bloemfontein). During his time at Digi Clear Concepts traveling around the country Mahlangu discovered a love for traveling, he then co-founded the Breaking Down Borders Africa (BDBA) Initiative in 2016.

The Breaking Down Borders Africa Initiative is a pan African platform led by African youth for the benefit of African youth. The Initiative is inspired by the vision of Enabling African youth to connect and collaborate towards the prosperity of the continent. To this end, the Initiative is invested in bringing all Africans together, to dissect the issues they are faced with and to find solutions that can be applied in resolving the identified challenges. The Initiative seeks to address gaps that hinder youth development work within social and entrepreneurship landscape including: Lack of access for African youth to trade across borders and Lack of social activism platforms for collaboration between young leaders and activists. 

These identified challenges are what inspired the Breaking Down Borders Africa Tour which toured 10 African countries with the purpose of seeking youth collaborative opportunities, advocating for quality accessible education and youth entrepreneurship while exploring the toured countries’ arts, heritage and tourism. The tour travelled to Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda, Botswana, Lesotho and Senegal between 2016 and 2017. Through the tour, Mahlangu and the BDBA Initiative collaborated with other youth led organisations and youth activists from across the continent. Mahlangu through his lens and his love for film making documented the journey which included,  free arts and entrepreneurship workshops, African film screenings, cultural exchange, school visits as well as the production of a documentary that chronicled the initiatives travel through the continent. The documentary profiled young African youth who were bringing about positive change in their respective communities.   

As a result of the network of young leaders created through the tour, the BDBA Initiative launched the Breaking Down Borders Africa Youth Summit.  The annual Summit is hosted with a view to bring young leaders in different fields and professions together to engage on these issues and to craft a way forward that would see the youth driving the change. Since its launch in 2017 The Breaking Down Borders Africa Youth Summit has hosted 300 young leaders – leaders in education, entrepreneurship, socio-political movements, Innovation and technology, creative sectors and corporates. The five-day Summit has cultural and historical tourism, education, social cohesion and skills development elements. Following the success of the 2018 BDBA Youth Summit, Mahlangu and the Breaking Down Borders Africa Initiative are scheduled to embark on the second cycle of the BDBA Tour with stops scheduled for Ghana, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Rwanda and Egypt.  

As Co-founder and Content Producer for Breaking Down Borders Africa, Mahlangu aspires to produce his first Documentary about Young Social Activists and Entrepreneurs across 10 African countries.