Why? Because South Africa is at a crossroads. Now more than ever is it important to use our freedom to ensure that democracy prevails in South Africa – that it is strengthened and sustainable. Periodic elections are not enough. A democracy can only live and flourish if citizens actively engage with important issues. Freedom of speech – and utilising that vital right – stimulates democracy by ensuring that power structures – from government and corporations to trade unions and NGOs – are held accountable for their actions and policies.
If we are silent and apathetic we are complicit in power abuse, in reinforcing mediocrity as a standard and in ensuring that an unsatisfactory status quo is maintained.
Many people feel that expressing their opinions about the burning issues of the day is pointless, because their voice will be ignored by mainstream media. Others feel alienated with regards to current, more rigid mediums of expression (such as the letters page of a newspaper) or intimidated by the rigours of maintaining a something like a blog on an ongoing basis.
The Soapbox takes all of these dynamics into account. By creating a platform for opinion online, The Soapbox is situated within a medium that young people are comfortable with. It also means that the project is easier to integrate with current modes of communication and social connection (such as Facebook) that young people use.
Sited in a political landscape characterised by the inanities and incitements of the likes Julius Malema, The Soapbox aims to fight political and cultural apathy and to foster tolerance and a culture of intelligent debate among young South Africans.
For more info, check out The Soapbox.