Growing Racial Equity and Hearing New African Voices

Added to Community People

Growing Racial Equity and Hearing New African Voices

Over the past few years, diversity and inclusion have become increasingly important around the world. And the Agile Community is no exception. While there has been some focus on racial diversity, we can do more.

Inspired by the Agile Alliance Growing Racial Equity initiative, passionate South African Agilists gathered around a common cause – equity and empowerment for ethnically and culturally diverse people in the South African Agile community. And through this Agile Equity South Africa was born in July 2020.

New African Voices is one of the initiatives that emerged from Agile Equity SA.

The initiative aims to grow speakers of colour by providing an opportunity to learn, practice and become speakers in the Agile community. New African Voices pairs new speakers with experienced conference presenters in a mentee/ mentor relationship. Mentees work with their mentors to prepare and present a talk in a safe environment that fosters actionable, valuable feedback. These talks happen via frequent meetups. The first of these took place last year on the 7th of December, with Nilesh Makan (founding Director at Padawan Consulting) as the first speaker. Since then, we have gained even more traction with a desire to get more participation across Africa.

Here are comments from some of the new speakers at the New African Voices Meetup in February:

“It was a great platform to start. Not only did I learn the dynamics of being a speaker, but I also got an opportunity to do it on a digital platform. One would think it is easier and less intimidating, but digital skills and preparation were a key take away for me. The platform served as a mirror to what I lacked and also what I already possess. The room is absolutely gracious with so much kindness and patience. It is one of the best audiences one could ask for!”

– Ellen Bapela (Council- Municipality Auditor at Remote Metering Solutions) Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

“New Voices in Agile was an incredible growth and learning experience. My journey started in Sep 2020, when I was paired with an amazing mentor, Jutta Eckstein. Then life happened. With Jutta’s patience, we restarted in January 2021. We worked on a topic, a bio (7 attempts) and a talk, all the while overcoming fears and obstacles. The topic in my head seemed simpler than speaking about it. The day arrived, and the experience was a safe, learning one. Feedback is a gift and so valuable – and I received great feedback. Subsequently, this experience opened so many personal opportunities for me, such as networking with like-minded individuals. I would encourage everyone to give it a go! I am busy refining my talk, and I am getting ready for round 2. This has been something I have meant to do for years and it was the perfect opportunity to explore!”

– Zakiyya Cassimjee (Executive: Projects & Operations) City of Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

If you are an African Agilist looking to spread your wings as a speaker or an experienced orator looking to mentor a new speaker – get in touch with us.

We can’t wait to see New African Voices on the stage at Agile 2021!

Agile Alliance is encouraging Agile speakers from all around the world to submit to Agile2021. The last wave of submission intake will be April 1-14. The Agile2021 program team is hosting a weekly Ask Us Anything session on Wednesdays at 7:00 am UTC for potential speakers who want information and coaching about how to submit their idea. Sign up at

About the Authors

Khwezi is an Agilist that is passionate about helping organizations and people towards achieving success through Agile transformations. She has worked as an IT professional since 2008, with solid experience in positions such as Scrum Master, Agile Project Manager and Business Analyst across multiple industries. Khwezi is also an active member of the Agile community who has helped in initiatives focused at creating more diversity within the Agile industry.

I don’t think I have ever minded change... Over the course of my career, I have shifted from working face-to-face with customers (Business Operations), to articulating what customers need (Business Analysis and Process Engineering), to working with teams delivering the solution (Product Development and Product Ownership), to evolving ways to deliver the solution (Agile software development at a team level), to improving collaboration of many teams working together (Business and Enterprise Agility).

No bio currently available.

I'm a learning and growing Agilist currently doing work as a Lean-Agile coach. Still have my technical nous from my previous stint as a developer. Passionate about empowering and training teams on all things Lean and Agile


This is an Agile Alliance community blog post. Opinions represented are personal and belong solely to the author. They do not represent opinion or policy of Agile Alliance.

Agile2023 Registration

Stay Up-to-Date!

Get updates on Agile events, programs, and more by subscribing to the Agile Alliance Newsletter.

Agile MiniCon Basics

Recent Posts

BYOC Member Lean Coffee