#TheTotalShutDown: A Powerful Start To Women’s Month

The women of Africa Unite were proud to join the intersectional women’s march to end gender-based violence against women and gender non-conforming people. The march began at 09:30 at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and concluded with rousing songs, speeches and testimonies, at the parliament building in central Cape Town. The memorandum, which was read to the crowd before being delivered to parliament, was a crowd-sourced call to change policies and implementation of policies concerning women and gender non-conforming individuals. There were strong and laudable demands, to eradicate gender-based violence in 2018.

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Women were dressed in black and red, despite their organisational affiliations, in support of the initiative and in solidarity of the women. The Africa Unite placard read “Don’t Rape”, in light of our upcoming gender-based violence workshops which will run throughout Women’s month in an effort to spread awareness in our communities. South Africa has earned its title as a rape capital of the world, with 1 in 3 women nationally experiencing rape within their lifetime. A rape occurs in South Africa every 17 seconds. 27 people in the Western Cape alone are raped daily.

This is a gross human rights violation, which is why here at Africa Unite we take gender-based violence very seriously. We are proud to be hosting several events during Women’s month which emphasise this commitment to human rights and women’s rights, please follow our social media for more details closer to the time.

See our social media accounts for more information about our upcoming events. Click here for more photos from the march,  click here for our Facebook page and here for our Instagram page.

 

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“ALL IN”- Africa Unite Mandela month 2018 celebration

To celebrate Mandela Month 2018, Africa Unite in partnership with University of Cape Town Students’ Health and Welfare Centres Organisation (SHAWCO) , Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) South African Red Cross Society, Western Cape Community Safety and Bush Radio held a Mandela Day “All-In” celebration.  The purpose of this event was to bring various stakeholders under the same roof to promote access to services as a gesture of celebrating 67 minutes of Mandela Day. This is to reflect the fact that all human beings should have access to basic services as mandated by the Constitution and in line with what Tata Nelson Mandela stood for. Twenty-four (24) years after the attainment of freedom, many townships are still experiencing service delivery challenges.

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Some of the community members waiting for their turn to receive health check ups.

The event took place at the Gugulethu Sports Complex on the 28th of July 2018. The gathering attracted many people from Gugulethu and its surrounding townships.  A live broadcast of the event was aired by Bush Radio which conducted interviews with the organisers and played music which attracted more people. During the day, community members had the opportunity to walk in and access different services provided by the above stakeholders.

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One of the youth receives first aid treatment from Red Cross.

SHAWCO provided free health check-ups (from blood pressure, TB, HIV & AIDS, STDs, sugar diabetes, general consultations and referral letters etc). More than 60 patients, women, men and children of all ages were examined, diagnosed and received free medication when needed. As the time went on, the news was spreading around the townships and more people started coming in. We were obliged to stop some of the people from coming in due to the time. One of the female patients mentioned that this is a great initiative for the communities because if they must go to the township clinic you need to leave home before 5am as often the clinics in the townships are always full. The patients must wake up before dawn and queue up all day long, only to get their services in the evening. In case you want to go to a private doctor, it is so expensive – you need to pay a consultation fee between R350 – R400.  She concluded that she hopes that this can be an ongoing initiative.

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Youth registering to vote on the IEC stand.

The Red Cross stand attracted other community members who were informed about disaster management and prevention and Sexual Reproductive Health Education. The Department of Community Safety distributed over 250 first aid kits and their pamphlets about ongoing projects on how to improve safety in Cape Town. Furthermore, the IEC stand also attracted a great number of young people who had a chance to register as voters as the country is preparing for the 2019 general elections.  .

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Africa Unite and SHAWCO team pause for a group photo after a successful event.

Africa Unite would like to thank all its partner organisations, who made this day special for the community of Gugulethu and all surrounding under serviced communities. This event was also covered by City Vision a local newspaper.

 

For more pictures click here

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Women to Women dialogue on Gender Based Violence

With the high prevalence of Gender based violence in the country, the harming and murder of women and girls constantly increasing there is a need for effective and relevent interventions. Africa Unite has been involved in a number of interventions and dialogues around gender based violence in numerous communities. We have observed the great need to strengthen our involvement through community participation to come up with practical solutions.

Africa Unite had a men to men dialogue on the 23rd of June 2018 with outstanding results as men discussed the culture of violence, causes of Gender based violence and came up with suggestions on how these incidences of Gender based violence can be lowered or even erradicated.

Following this, on the 21st of July 2018 Africa Unite in partnership with the following organisations, 5X5 #Uniting Youth, GCIS, Activate, Gugulethu youth desk, IPYG and SASA conducted a women to women dialogue at the Gugulethu Sport Complex. The purpose of this event was to bring women from different backgrounds together to openly discuss the causes of gender based violence and give suggestions on how its occurance can be stopped.

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Forty seven women of different age groups gathered at the dialogue from diverse townships of Cape Town such as Khayelitsha, Delft, Nyanga, Tambo Village and Gugulethu.

 

 

Some of the issues raised and mentioned by the participants during the discussion as causes of gender based violence were:

  • Musculinity and peer pressure shaping most men’s behaviour
  • Gender roles or culture over generations contributing to the continuation and increase of gender based violence
  • The failure of both men and women to cope with the changes in social roles as women are now becoming financially secure, opposed to being completely dependent on their husbands/ partners.
  • Women often undermining each other and contributing to the abuse and violence against  other women and girls
  • GBV having become a common occurance in such a way that children find this normal and imitate the behaviour.
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Presentations by the women.

After a long and fruitful discussion the women made the following recomendations in order to curb GBV:

  • All the participants agreed that the dialogue was very informative and they recommended that these dialougues be extended to other areas in Cape Town including the rural parts.
  • They also noted that there is a need for work to be done around helping communities redefine gender roles and eliminate musculinity.
  • The also proposed that women strengthen their bonds to protect each other, children and men from violence.
  • Furthermore they also recommended activities that teach human rights, anger management and conflict resolution as most people are unaware of how to resolve conflict or deal with emotions without violence.
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Participants enjoying an icebreaker out in the sun.

These dialogues have been a build up to the women to men/ men to women dialogue that we will hosted on the 18th of August 2018. We hope to see you there! For more information on the women to men/ men to women dialogue contact Yonela on +27 21 461 6551 / yonela@africaunite.org.za

for more pictures click here

 

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AU School Club Leadership Camp

This past weekend, Africa Unite was thrilled to host 45 learners from the various Africa Unite School Clubs. The schools that attended included Masebambane High, Heideveld High, Nelson Mandela High, Rosendaal High, Portland High, and our newest school club, Ashton C.P. High! Five Africa Unite staff members and one peer educator attended the camp as facilitators as well.

The camp’s purpose was to identify and highlight the key roles and responsibilities of the different positions of the Africa Unite School Club Cabinet members and to build confidence in the learners to fulfil these roles. In addition to this, the camp was meant to cultivate and nurture leadership skills in the learners.30698282_623651114643400_3069473994139963197_n.jpg

On the first night of camp, learners were asked to map their respective communities based on its assets and challenges. This allowed them to critically think about the challenges their neighbourhood faces, but also to highlight all the positive aspects that their community has. The learners were able to connect with each other in their struggles, and in their strengths. Some main challenges they noted were drugs, gangsterism, teen pregnancy, academic limitations, teacher absenteeism, socioeconomic gaps and racial tensions. The learners were asked to think about how their portfolios, ministries and individual skills can be used in tandem with their community assets to combat the aforementioned struggles.com-map-krai.jpg

Following this, the learners were tasked with a project for the day to challenge their planning and presenting skills. They were given a letter written by the “Ministry of Basic Education” that enclosed its plans to award R50,000,000 to the school club that presented the best proposal for the money while explaining the school club and working as a functional team. The learners presented their plans to a panel of “ministers” (the camp facilitators) to be judged on creativity and strength. They were very innovative in creating skits, radio shows and panels to convey their information. The winner was Africa Unites newest school club, Ashton C.P. High who presented very specific, well thought out and realistic uses for the money and displayed their understanding of the difference between Africa Unite and the AU School Club.30629697_623651754643336_2422537409761483552_n.jpg

Learners were also able to discuss the current situation of water and sanitation in their schools. They designed surveys with which they will conduct baseline research with their school peers. The intention of this is both to uncover some of the differences between townships and privileged schools access to water, and to help inform their design of a water related project or campaign in their school.

Finally, the learners were able to work on their action plans for the year and put their intentions into a calendar. These calendars will be used to keep the learners on track for their goals over this year.nm cal

Learners gave feedback at the end of the camp that highlighted their experience. They noted that “we must work together to face the challenges of our community because our challenges are the same” and that “leaders can lead from behind, they do not have to be bossy to be a leader”. Learners also rightfully noted that “the responsibility of the future is in the hand of the youth”. When surveyed on their experience, 100% of campers answered that the camp defined their roles as ministers and that they now understand their responsibility.

30652799_623651701310008_2152788205221220796_nThank you to the camp venue, Apostle Battery Camp, and we are grateful to Praxia’s Catering and Décor for providing all the delicious food for the weekend. We thank all of the learners for their participation and look forward to the coming school year and all of the potential that will be realized!

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Human Rights Day – Youth Hike For Nation Building

The socio-economic inequalities inherited from the Apartheid are some of the root causes of the current segregated societies where people from different racial backgrounds do not have enough time and space for interactions, healing and building ties. Experience has shown that those citizens, who have had opportunities to interact with diverse groups in a meaningful way, are less likely to be racist or xenophobic. These processes of interaction, however, will only succeed if they are specifically constructed to allow for dialogue and meaningful interaction. By implication, this means that such interaction cannot just be coincidental, but needs to be organized and facilitated.

To celebrate human rights month, Africa Unite brought 65 young people from different backgrounds and areas of Cape Town (Khayelitsha, Bellville, Goodwood, Woodstock, Bo Kaap, Bishop Lavis, Mowbray, Delft, Sea Point, Hanover Park etc) who gathered at Constantia Nek Route early in the morning to take upon the challenge of hiking Table Mountain together.

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Youth getting instructions from one of the rangers of Table Mountain National Parks before proceeding with the hike.

The purpose of the hike was to create a platform for young people to know each other and create new friendships to strengthen their ties and break the existing social barriers. Besides the beautiful mountains surrounding Cape Town which attract so many tourists and hikers, many young people from previously disadvantaged communities have less opportunities to hike.

Before hiking the youth were given brief information on the route and Table Mountain in general by one of the rangers from Table Mountain National Park. The rangers also followed the group during the course of the hike. During the hike, we saw that participants developed a strong team spirit and rapidly built solidarity in an effort to reach the top of the mountain. Half way through the hike some of the youth participants could not continue anymore as they were exhausted especially those who had never hiked before in their lives. Despite the other youth being motivated to reach the top, some of them offered to remain behind and assist those who were legging behind. Surprisingly the much-awaited rains in Cape Town started pouring –  although everyone was happy with the rains they were mixed reactions amongst the youth as others were determined to continue and others felt it was better to go back down.

Eventually the group decided to go back to the office to have more discussions. The purpose of the discussion was to stimulate young people to think about some burning issues related to social cohesion in South Africa, and come up with innovative solutions to solve these challenges. Therefore, young people were split the into 3 groups and each group was given a question to discuss on. The questions were are as follows:

  1. Why is it difficult to have people from different communities to do activities together?
  2. What can we do as young people to create more spaces for interaction between people from different backgrounds?
  3. Is xenophobia the sign of the failure of nation building in South Africa?
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Some of the youth paying attention to the discussions.

Outcomes of the discussions

 Question 1

Why is it difficult to have people from different communities to organize activities together?

This debate started with a consensus: a lot of organisations in South Africa are struggling in gathering all the communities for an event. Indeed, black, coloured and white communities in Cape Town are living in different areas. The diversity of the languages is also sometimes a challenge as each group tends to speak in its language to prevent the others to understand.

Moreover, some people mentioned that the state plays a role in highlighting the differences already existing amongst South Africans instead of looking for a ground of cohesion and unity. In some official documents people still need to mention their race or nationality: black, white, coloured and Indian.

Furthermore, the youth stressed out that the events that happened in the past created a ground for fear and suspicion notably amongst black and White people in South Africa. For instance, they mentioned that a lot of white South Africans feel rejected and not legitimate in South Africa despite being born here. For that reason, some avoid meeting with other communities because of the fear of being blamed and identified as perpetrators.

In addition, the group also noted that majority of Black South Africans feel that since the attainment of freedom, white people and former settlers never gave back this country to the indigenous black populations and therefore we still see a lot of economic disparities. This makes it difficult for people from different racial groups to meet because of these unresolved sensitive issues.

Question 2

What can we do as young people to create more spaces for interaction between people from different backgrounds?

In this group, they all agreed on the fact that sport is a good way to gather people from different backgrounds and communities.

Besides, they argued that the ability to mobilize people depends on the topic of the meeting. The more the meeting will be political the less people will come to discuss sensitive issues.

Therefore, the youth suggested that there should be more spaces for young people to interact and express themselves through creative art and sports. This can lead to more informal discussions between the youth. They also mentioned that workshops are also efficient in leading people towards reflection and debate to improve social cohesion. The bottom line is that the youth must find activities common interests which can bring them together.

Question 3

Is xenophobia the sign of the failure of nation building?

In this group, the youth said that xenophobia is mainly explained by poverty and the lack of opportunities for black people since the end of the apartheid.  They said that officially apartheid ended but nowadays there is still discrimination and an unequal access to economic opportunities because of the huge differences of incomes and that is a failure of the nation building.

During the conversation, it was discussed that sometimes South Africans coming from communities where there are many socio-economic challenges, feel inferior when they see foreigners opening businesses in their communities. Therefore, this feeling of inferiority creates jealousy and leads to violence.

Very respectfully, a woman asked the facilitators: “Do you think that as a stranger you are more able to work than us?”. Continuing, another said that “Ethiopians are taking our businesses and then we have to work for the strangers”.

The group observed that the real problem that causes xenophobia is that nation building in South Africa is not achieved. In fact, there are still many social and economic inequalities that exclude some people from the economic opportunities. They gave the example of Cape Town, which is a vibrant city, with a nice culture, but they wondered themselves “who is enjoying all of this?”. It is an island of wealth in an ocean of poverty for a lot of black people and coloured people and the government is responsible for solving this issue.

Going back to xenophobia, a woman said people come to South Africa because they also face challenges in their countries of origin. So, even if the struggles are not the same, we must understand that they are looking for better and higher living standards and we should learn from each other and develop a pan Africanist spirit.

The group also asked themselves if the pan Africanist spirit is a utopia in South Africa? A young girl responded that our education system is failing us because it does not reflect what is happening in other African countries. We must research more beyond our own curriculum to understand what is happening in Africa.

Follow up and conclusion

After a long tiresome day, the group developed the following recommendations how to enhance social cohesion and improve inter-racial relations as follows:

  • Organise such kind of events on quarterly basis to strengthen the new ties
  • Create more spaces for promoting creativity and talents amongst young people
  • Create more formal spaces to educate South Africans on what is happening in the rest of other African countries.
  • Create more platforms for celebrating cultural diversity.
  • Government must find alternatives to addressing youth unemployment
  • Create platforms where migrants and refugees can share some of their skills with the host communities to promote the idea that migrants and refugees can also contribute to the skills and economic development of the country.
  • Organise more social cohesion workshops in various communities
  • Create more platforms where young white South Africans can participate and realise how they also play a role in nation building

After the discussions the group was invited to have a friendly meal together to strengthen the newly established friendships.

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Group photo of the youth hikers

Africa Unite would like to thank all the youth from different backgrounds who dedicated their time to join this hike and partner organisation International Youth Peace Group (IPYG) for assisting with the logistics. We would like also to give a special thanks to Mergence Investment Managers (Cape Town) for their generosity in covering all the costs of the day. Without their support this event could not happen.

To view the video click here

Below are a few comments made by some of the participants:

Abongile Mancasa, Khayelitsha

“It was quite surprising for me to see strangers and especially white people encouraging me while I was struggling during the hike. Ubuntu isn’t something from a specific community but can come from anybody with a will to help others and create a sense of community”

Youth from Bishop Lavis

“It was the first time in my life that I met white people asking me how I was”

“ I understood that this hike was not a race and it is the same thing in life. There will be people that are going faster than others but what matters it to keep going forward”

Eben Strydon from Goodwood        

“I didn’t know there could be such spaces where white people could also play a role in a friendly way”

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Gender Based Violence Imbizo, Human Rights Day

The Wednesday, Human Rights Day, Africa Unite joined forces with the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) and Activate! to discuss gender-based violence (GBV) in the community of Phillipe and South Africa as a whole. The event was held in Phillipe Village and was host to a vast demographic.

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In attendance were members of NGOs, community members, Health Department officials, sex workers, academics and professionals.

The intention of this event was to bring together members from far reaching areas of Cape Town to commemorate Human Rights Day and discuss Gender Based Violence. The Imbizo’s purpose was to use the metaphor of a tree to discuss the “rotten apples” of Cape Town’s current gender climate and what unhealthy roots made them. After this, the group was to brainstorm a “dream tree” comprised of healthy apples that reflected a gender just society.

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Participants were able to observe the rotten tree before them and speak about its inability to provide what we need from a healthy tree. Its fruit was rotten, its branches mangled and its roots weak. Participants mentioned that although the tree was rotten, the tree was still standing and that to them, this indicated hope for a healthy future. Each participant was asked to pick a leaf from the tree. On each leaf was written a fact about the current state of GBV in South Africa.

The group then took the leaves and read aloud the facts. Following this, the group was able to discuss what roots had caused the rotten fruits of the tree. Participants found the root causes to range from cultural beliefs and misinterpretation to a lack of empowerment for women. Poor education, patriarchal ideals, ignorance and false information spread, religion, lack of unity, limited spaces to create dialog and more were also identified among the root causes of GBV.

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Following this, the group was encouraged to pick a root cause and imagine what the world might look like if that cause was fixed/did not exist. The group then came together to create a “dream tree” that reflects what they wish to see in a gender just society. The group decided that a gender just society would be indicated by equality, dialog, peace, awareness, tolerance, ubuntu, protection of victims, fair treatment of all genders, and fair economic opportunities.

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This was the desired society that the group came up with and pasted their prosperous leaves onto the dream tree. After this, two attendees shared their stories about their participation in sex work and their position to decriminalize it. The group then had the opportunity to reflect on the event and their role moving forward and share, should they wish. The reflections followed a theme of praise for the creation of a space in which dialog can occur, that we all must now act together and not in solitary, that we must fight for all humans rights and that the rotten apples must fall in order to fertilize the soil from which a dream tree will grow. Following these reflections, the Imbizo ended with a thank you, and a song.

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Human Rights Workshop with the Cape Town YMCA

Migration is a complex topic that Africa Unite has proudly accepted the responsibility of attempting to understand and make strides to end. The discussion of migration, xenophobia and Afrophobia in South Africa was brought to the staff and volunteers of the Cape Town write in full YMCA on Thursday, March 15th.
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The workshop took place at the Cape Town YMCA and the aim was to discuss more on the rights of migrants and refugees to better equip the YMCA members to serve the youth in their communities. This was the second session of a two-part training in Human Rights.

 YMCA staff participated in an array of activities and discussions that helped them to grapple with the magnitude of migration, brainstorm ways that their organization can end violence against migrants and refugees in South Africa and begin to understand the difficulties a refugee or an asylum seeker may face.

This session began with an activity that allowed the participants to mimic the application experience of a person seeking asylum. The participants were given forms written in Creole to fill out and were given no other instruction but to submit their completed forms to the two Africa Unite representatives at the front of the room. The representatives of Africa Unite were instructed to deny the forms and answer no questions. It was found during reflection of this activity that the participants felt frustrated, excluded, unfairly treated, angry, worthless, hopeless and vulnerable. It was then asked by the facilitators why the participants did not mobilize. Their understanding of mobilization was that it was rebellion or meant to cause havoc. It was explained that the group could mobilize while maintaining respect and dignity.

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Next, the group discussed migration, and the reason one may have to migrate. It was a theme that most of the reasons for migration was to flee inequalities or persecution in their own countries. It was noted that this could be part of the reason that people see migration and migrants in a negative light. Some terms of the types of migration were then defined, including temporary, permanent, undocumented and forced migration.

The participants then completed an activity about xenophobia and Afrophobia. The groups broke up to discuss their understanding of the word, why xenophobia exists, and what they can do to end it. Xenophobia was decided to be violence against migrants and refugees including prejudice, physical violence, exclusion, discrimination, exploitation and the withholding of human rights.  image9 (002)

The group agreed that xenophobia exists at the hands of ignorance, fear, poor journalism, unemployment, lack of information and migrant vulnerability. The staff then discussed how they, as the YMCA organization, could help end xenophobia/Afrophobia in their community. All groups agreed that human rights workshops were necessary to raise awareness about migration. The staff agreed that education was the cornerstone of promoting social cohesion. On this note, they would like to offer human rights workshops at the YMCA for their youth patrons. In addition to this local level initiative, grander scale interventions were suggested.

Participants then completed an activity to demystify some of the stereotypes surrounding migrants. This consisted of listing South African stereotypes and debunking each of them. This then set the stage to falsify all the generalizations about migrants. The participants were then able to discuss how the generalization and stereotyping of migrants contributes greatly to xenophobia in South Africa.

 Finally, we discussed what the image7 (002).JPGparticipants had felt that they learned. The participants said they had learned that people make grand generalizations and that this is not conducive to promoting human rights. Participants mentioned having learned much more about migration and the different types and definitions. Participants also walked away with an understanding that it is very difficult to be a refugee and that they deserve respect and dignity. 

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