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Black History Month Essay Contest
Your Vision – Your Country – Your Future
January 16, 2024


In celebration of Black History Month and to mark 30 years of South African democracy and U.S.-South Africa democratic partnership, the Embassy of the United States in South Africa announces the launch of a written and oral essay competition entitled “I HAVE A DREAM – WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE” beginning on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – January 15, 2024.  South African youth aged 16-20 years old are invited to write an essay of 400-500 words that relates to their dreams and vision of a positive future for South Africa, and a video of them reading that essay.  In reflecting on the experience of 30 years of the challenges and successes of democracy, the essay should tap into the hopes for what the country could look towards in the next 30 years.  The text and video should be submitted by here, including a private YouTube or other shareable video link of the individual reading their essay as though they were addressing an audience. The top 9 nationwide winners (1 from each province) will be invited to a final event in Pretoria in mid-April, where they will participate in a live essay speech event with their peers, with Ambassador Reuben E. Brigety II and other U.S. and South African officials and attendees.

Contestants are reminded that by participating in the contest and uploading content to YouTube or other platform (Facebook, Instagram & X) they are bound by the platform’s Terms of Service and any agreements contained therein.  Once a video is uploaded to the chosen platform, it is considered a final submission and may not be modified or replaced.  Individual contestants may submit only one essay and one corresponding video.

Submissions must be in English, although language accuracy will not be the principal selection criterion for finalists.

Submit your essay and video link on here by 11:59 p.m. Pretoria time on Feb. 29, 2024 to be considered (see full instructions below). The nine finalists will be invited to Gauteng for a live final event on April 17,2024 in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of South African Democracy; the Grand Prize winners will be announced at that time.

A jury composed of South African and U.S. judges will select the 9 finalists.  Videos will be judged on effectiveness in communicating the importance and unique takes on the topic, as well as what the author stands for.

The 9 finalists will be invited to Gauteng to present their essays orally and the top 3 winners will be selected by an expert panel.

From among the 9 finalists, the U.S. Embassy will award three top prizes at the conclusion of the final performance including a MacBook computer for first place.  Winners of the 2nd and 3rd places will be awarded an iPad and an iPad Mini, respectively.  Winning essays and videos will be featured on the U.S. Embassy’s social media accounts.  All finalists will receive certificates from the U.S. Embassy in recognition of their efforts.

Contest participants must provide the following information in the form when they fill it in:

  • Entry should include: 
    • Full name 
    • Date of birth/age 
    • School (if enrolled)
    • Telephone # 
    • Email address 
    • Title and text of the original essay and video 
    • Applicant’s social media handles (if applicable) 
    • Applicant’s contact information
    • Link to the video of you reading your essay on YouTube or other shareable video platform

The competition is for South African youth aged 16-20 residing in South Africa. 

See the contest rules here.