Young Christian leaders will sleep in jail during Robben Island Freedom Imbizo

US President Barrack Obama during a visit to the former Robben Island Prison on June 30, 2013. A group of young Christian leaders will spend four days on the Island from Thursday, December 4, seeking
US President Barrack Obama during a visit to the former Robben Island Prison on June 30, 2013. A group of young Christian leaders are spending a 4-day “Freedom Imbizo” on the Island from Thursday, December 4 until Sunday, December 7.

Freedom Mantle, the youth of the South African Christian Leaders Initiative (SACLI), will be journeying with 20 young South Africans, between 18 to 35 years of age, on Robben Island as they deeply engage the possible futures of their generation and country after 20 years of democracy.

The core theme of this discussion will be about  “redefining freedom for our generation”, which will underpin both the identity and goals of this young movement, says SACLI in a media release.

The Freedom Mantle Imbizo will start on December 4 and end on December 7, 2014. December 5 happens to be the anniversary of the death of Nelson Mandela and the 90th anniversary of the birth of Robert Sobukwe. According to Biblical custom, when a great leader dies, a great God-moment opens up. The heavens opened up for the prophet Isaiah when King Uzziah died; Elisha received a double portion of anointing when Elijah went up to heaven; the disciples of Jesus received the power of the Holy Spirit when Jesus went up to be with the Father; and Joshua received his call to lead Israel to the Promised Land when Moses died, says SACLI.

Picking up the mantle of leadership
This generation of South Africans know that they are not exempt from God’s blessing, especially considering that the greatest leader of our age was South African. Robben Island is littered with great mantles of leadership and inspiration for a new generation of leaders. Freedom Mantle invites this new generation to fully embrace this God-moment by picking up the mantle of leadership for our generation.

The young leaders will spend four nights sleeping in the former Robben Island prison, in proximity to where the older generation of thinkers and leaders had been prisoners of hope, says SACLI. The young leaders will also be joined by some exceptional high school students. Key older leaders, who participated in historic moments in South African history such as 1976, 1985 and 1994, will act as active listeners, advisors and mentors. The young leaders represented will be Christians from all sectors of society, including business, church, education, civil society, politics and the unemployed. They will represent a cross-section of Christian denominations and movements.

The youth of South Africa are facing numerous challenges, some of which include unemployment, crime, materialism, early pregnancy, inequality and educational challenges. These problems are overwhelming to many. However, there is a generation of leaders who believe, like the Biblical Joshua, that if we walk in God’s ways, we will inherit the Promised Land in our lifetime. These emerging leaders are convinced that they have been born for such a time as this. They believe that the solutions are in our midst if we trust in God and apply ourselves. They have powerful prophetic voices and are not afraid to speak the truth that burns within them. They are prisoners of hope.

The mandate of the Freedom Mantle is to awaken and disciple a post-Mandela generation of courageous, visionary young leaders who will serve and engage South African society on every level.

Beyond Robben Island
Symbolically echoing how Joshua’s generation crossed the Jordan from the wilderness into the Promised Land, these young leaders will cross the ocean from Robben Island to the Promised Land they have committed to build. Joshua’s generation received the law of the Lord through Moses. The Freedom Mantle Stewards will leave Robben Island with new inspired documents which will form the core of a process of prayer and discussion around the country, later becoming a new Freedom Book, filled with the identity, ideas, thoughts, challenges, strategies, dreams, visions and intensions of a postMandela generation.

The outcomes will be widely circulated and debated online, and in other congresses amongst the various existing movements around the country. The aim is to release the material and book on Freedom Day 2015, the 21st birthday of the new South Africa. A year of mobilisation, prayer and engagement will end with a larger Freedom Mantle Imbizo on Robben Island on December 5, 2015.

Arts, poetry, mantles and tree planting
It is Freedom Mantle custom to use arts and symbolic action to inspire and communicate to young leaders. Our ‘Picking up the Mantle’ ceremony leads a group of leaders through reflective scriptures in order to prepare their hearts for the task of leadership in their generation, says SACLI. One of the greatest moments for Freedom Mantle this year was when the new Premier of Gauteng led and committed himself and Bekkersdal residents to pick up the mantle of leadership while promising to fear God. It was also a moving moment of reconciliation between the government, church and the Bekkersdal community.

Arts and creativity are essential expressions of any movement, particularly in this country. We deliberately engage artists to ensure that the movement generates new freedom songs, poetry and other art forms. Our tree planting ceremonies invite young leaders to see themselves as committing to grow slowly into leaders, who like Mandela, will become great trees that provide for their communities. The Picking up the Mantle ceremony, arts and tree planting will all be part of the Robben Island Freedom Imbizo programme.

Freedom Mantle and SACLI leader Siki Dlanga invites people to partner the movement in prayer and finances. She can be contacted at or 073 844 8691.

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