“HOW DO YOU MEASURE SUCCESS IN SCOUTING?” – this is a challenge posed by many donors to the World Scout Foundation. Its Honorary Chairman, the King of Sweden, in response, tells a wonderful story of a thirteen-year-old boy he met in 2004, in the Gugulethu Township near Capetown. The young Scout told the King that he wished he could wear his uniform always – because in it, he felt safe – from the gangs.
His Majesty goes on to say that Scouting is the greatest leadership development programme in the world. So what of this young man from Gugulethu? Did he succumb to the gangs – does he run drugs, has he survived the violence which ravages his community – is he one of the long term unemployed with no hope? How did Scouting develop his leadership?
Well, a surprise guest at Tuesday’s Regal Circle dinner helped to answer that very question. (The October 15th dinner was organized in part by the Regal Circle members – WSF’s major donors - to honour His Majesty during his 40th Anniversary year as King).
Forty donors were gathered in the splendid offices of Siegfried Weiser, WSF Chairman, in Paris – overlooking the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower … when a guest entered the room and went straight to His Majesty. The 21 year old was none other than Buntu Tsotsobe, the young man His Majesty met back in 2004!
Buntu is still in Scout Uniform (now assistant Scout leader). He works six days a week delivering vegetables for his step-father, to earn enough money to go to college next year to study business. His only spare time is spent helping others – in the Scouts and with an NGO in Gugulethu.
This bright eyed young South African describes his work with young offenders – “The NGO staff that bring them to Scouts told me I have to be really tough with these kids – otherwise they would walk all over me … but I can’t be tough – that’s not how I learned leadership in Scouting … so I am nice to them – and you know what? They all keep coming to Scouts and they really like me!”
His Majesty was clearly pleased to meet Buntu again and stayed talking about his life in South Africa today, and his hopes and dreams for the future.
“And I was going to use Buntu’s story in my speech this evening”, added the surprised King, “I need to give a different speech, but now, at least, I have another chapter to tell to others in the future. Scouting truly is the greatest leadership development programme in the world – it really works!”
Buntu Tsotsobe was chosen by the members of the Regal Circle to represent all the Scouts throughout the world that have been helped and inspired by His Majesty throughout the years. The wonderful news for Buntu – he’s also been chosen as the first recipient of the “Siegfried Weiser Scholarship Fund”, established in the WSF by Lars and Vibeke Kolind.
Buntu has a very bright future indeed!