Koketso Moeti, founder and Executive Director of Amandla.mobi, believes it’s not a single individual that will change the world, but rather the power of the collective.
Amandla.mobi is a cell phone-based communication tool that connects people in South Africa who are willing to stand in solidarity and take collective action with those most affected by injustice with a focus on low income black women.
The site reads: “Our job is to connect you up with others, so that your voice has more impact and power to hold political and corporate interests to account.”
Amandla.mobi is a not-for-profit company that has public benefit organisation status. Moeti runs the company full-time with a team of active members.
Moeti, who started Amandla.mobi in 2014, is a 2017 Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow and earlier this year was selected as one of the first Obama Foundation fellows.
She is Deputy Chairperson of the SOS Coalition, which is committed to and campaigning for public broadcasting in the public interest.
Moeti also writes for various publications like Al Jezeera, Mail & Guardian and City Press.
We’re just a means of help to support different actions
Some of the organisation’s campaigns include “Tell the Competition Commission why Data Must Fall” and “Demand basic care for rape survivors at all 24 hour health facilities”.
She explains that in many parts of the country, issues such as race, gender and class are obstacles to people connecting. “For example, if you stay in a small community based on a certain location, your story might not be covered in the local media.
“Cell phones though, connect us,” says Moeti.
Amandla.mobi was created to enable collective action.
Moeti says they help mobilise people in terms of taking action. “There are different actions for people to take. For instance, signing a petition is an entry point. You can also make a donation. Besides that you can come to the protest. We’re just a means of help to support different actions.”
For the Data Must Fall campaign, for example, a total of 708 active organisation members did door-to-door awareness to explain to people the campaign. “Those who couldn’t attend the Icasa process in Johannesburg, sent voice notes and voice messages to use in court.”
People are showing up for others, says Moeti. “That’s something beautiful to see. For example, there are people who aren’t affected by something but as human beings they are supporting others (who are affected).”
Moeti warns: “Sometimes we think injustice is out there; that it’s not in our vicinity. For example, it should matter that there is a difference between the highest paid worker and the lowest paid worker’s salary. The kind of values and principals we have should reflect in the practices. It matters in our organisations.”
The way we think about it is that we have to meet the people where they are
Amandla.mobi is taking advantage of the technology inside peoples’ pockets – their mobile phones.
Communication takes place through through various platforms, including WhatsApp, text messages, voice notes, Please Call Me’s and missed calls. Campaign information is available on their website.
“The way we think about it is that we have to meet the people where they are and we move with them to the social media platforms they are using.
“We don’t necessarily build new tech. We work with existing technology.”
They are also having to keep up with new platforms. “The mobile space is changing constantly,” says Moeti.
“When MXit was around, we used that to communicate with people. Now we use WhatsApp, USSD, SMS and the online platform (website).
“In the beginning, we started with USSD. You’d get a shortcode for different campaigns. You type it in your phone and select a language. Then you get more information on a campaign. It’s like the online platform, but the information is condensed. Not all campaigns use USSD.”