Introducing the Human Factor 3: young people – open minds

In her essay “In memory of who we are”, which opens the third issue of the DG Murray Trust’s (DGMT) Human Factor, social justice activist Lovelyn Nwadeyi writes: “We often talk about identity as something that we can define and determine for ourselves as individuals. While that may be true in part, it is perhaps valuable for us to think of identity as a story we tell ourselves about ourselves, as well as the stories other people tell about us.”

A rich vein of stories runs through the publication, whose theme is “Young people open minds”.  Those stories are told both by and for young people – who, though they have both the potential and the ability to become an engine that drives South Africa higher and further, are held back by deeply embedded systemic issues.

The Human Factor’s previous two issues focused on teachers and parents, respectively; for its third edition, the team decided to take a different approach. Culture editor, writer and musician Danielle Bowler worked with scores of young artists – poets, photographers, rappers, painters, singers and performers – to curate a striking set of artworks that feature throughout the publication. Some, like artist Lady Skollie and musician Sho Madjozi, have already garnered international fame. Others are slowly and steadily on the rise.

One of the contributors, photojournalist and documentary photographer Gulshan Khan, found the finished product extremely moving.

Khan said: “We are healing here, slowly but surely. We are breaking through the walls that divided us and the ceilings that kept us down. We are building bridges and knowledge; creating, working and expanding from the abundance that is the source of our abilities. We are transforming culture, paying homage to our multitudes of identities and ancestors, pursuing justice through our art – and it is all so incredible to witness. I am honoured to stand side by side and heart to heart with so many of my beloveds and my inspirers, on these pages.”

Dr David Harrison, CEO of DGMT, pointed out that art, poetry and stories were “powerful” ways to communicate because “they tend to cut through people’s unemotional conditioned responses. They connect us to those parts of our humanness that feel empathy and discerns truth”.

“Ultimately, bringing about change requires an understanding of people and relationships. What drives people, what connects them, dispirits them, stand in their way? This is why we invest in the Human Factor, producing a publication that stimulates thinking, without telling people what to think; that creates space for the integrity of head, gut and heart.”

And readers are impressed.

Spokazi Tyiwani, communications manager for DGMT’s Bumb’INGOMSO Project in East London, “found myself in tears when I saw the images, because I saw what a young South African is”.

“I was amazed at how (the Human Factor) was able to not only understand and capture our complex identities as young South Africans…for once in a long time I felt I was seen. The most amazing part was looking into the resilience of young people, who’ve been able to find expression through the most difficult of times, these past 26 years.

“Each and every young person will be able to see a part of themselves in it.”

DGMT wants to ensure that as many young people as possible can do just that. To find out how you can access a beautiful, printed copy of the Human Factor, visit; there, you’ll find more information about the publication, as well as being given an opportunity to contribute your own art, videos, songs, poetry and essays. Some of these will be chosen to feature on the website.

There’s also a chance to win a 13-inch MacBook Air laptop: follow the publication on Instagram, @humanfactorissue3 to find out more.

You can read a digital copy of the Human Factor below. We will be sending hard copies of the Human Factor to those what would like it. Express yourself – send images of your art, videos, songs, poetry, essays and we will choose a selection of the most poignant work to add to this page. Everyone who contributes will get a printed copy of this issue (while we have stock). Send your work to

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