AFRICA UNITE TEAM BUILDING HIKE 2021 REPORT

Africa Unite organized a hike to Lion’s Head as part of a team spirit exercise. On May 22nd, staff members, peer educators, interns, and friends of AU gathered to take up the challenge.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Hiking can be a true challenge, both on a personal level and as a team effort. Indeed, beyond being a physical activity, it also requires working together because not everyone goes at the same speed. For example, someone who walks fast has to know when to lead and when to help others keep going and not give up, which is exactly what happened to us that day. Throughout this hike, we had time to connect and develop a strong team spirit. Everyone went all the way to the top even if it was harder for some people than for others. In the end, the view and the feeling of pride for the whole team for not giving up and staying positive the whole day were worth it all.  

Leader, Youth Radio Program coordinator, also joined the 14 participants to conduct some interviews along the way. With the help of Mihle, he asked them questions about their expectations and feelings about the hike. You will be able to hear it all on Africa Unite Youth Radio very soon!

A whole day of hiking

What was supposed to be a morning hike ended up being a day-long outing! How did this happen you may ask? Well, here it goes. On Saturday, May 22nd we all met up at Africa Unite’s office at 8 am to go to the meeting point together, which was at The Glen Tree Circle. Early but happy! Once everyone had arrived and the final preparations had been made, we finally left. But that was only the beginning of this adventure. We did indeed have some twists and turns with the van, which was struggling to support our weight on the hills… But it was all greeted with good humor by the whole team! We finally started the hike at 10 am, on a path which was still in the morning shades. We walked our way through that side of the mountains, enjoying a view that can’t be seen from Lion’s Head. We were having such a great time together that no one realized we hiked further than necessary on the path to Signal Hill!! We then had to backtrack, but don’t worry we found our way back to Lion’s Head. As a team, we decided to keep going even if it meant walking more than what we expected. So we continued our way joyfully, cheering each other up! After everyone finally reached the top of Lion’s Head, we took the time to enjoy this amazing view under the warm sun. Dear reader, that’s how we ended up coming back at 5 pm. Instead of having a brunch together afterwards, we enjoyed some pizzas as our dinner. But that day was so great, we will only keep great memories!

Congratulations to all of our hikers who came to Africa Unite Team Building Hike! It was truly amazing to see the team spirit arose as we were making our way to Lion’s Head. You can be proud of yourselves. We are looking forward to our next adventures together!!

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AFRICA MONTH COMMEMORATIONS REPORT: CELEBRATING AFRICA’S RESILIENCE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

Amid the greatest challenges of this century, the COVID-19 pandemic, continuing to build Africa’s resilience and celebrating its achievements is imperative to ensure that all Africans continue making progress toward the African Agenda Sustainable Development Goals. The celebration of Africa’s resilience stems largely from all community stakeholders embracing the values of Ubuntu that enable interdependence, interconnectedness, and mutual support that is critical to mitigating the devastation of this virus. Briefly, the Africa Day commemorations enable Africa to reflect on the progress and common challenges that the continent confronts in a global environment.

Before the 25th of May 2021 commemoration, there were four Africa Friday activations in Inkwali schools leading up to the main commemoration of Africa Day. The activations were held with primary and high schools on the South Coast of Durban which included Mazibu Primary, Inkwali Primary, and Vumandaba High School where information sessions about Africa were shared with the youth of different nationalities. The information sessions came as a result that there was a huge knowledge gap of Africa and its history. Hence, the theme “Know Africa” guided these sessions.

Participants of the Africa Day celebration presenting to the group

On the 25th of May 2021, Africa Unite in partnership with the Institute of Afrikology conducted a dialogue with young people at Inkwali Primary School Hall in Inkwali rural community under Kwa Thoyana, located 56 km from Durban. The day was commemorated under the theme “Celebrating Africa’s resilience in the time of COVID-19” where youth acknowledged that the pandemic has allowed us to validate our capability to move from a tendency to be preoccupied with the quest of individual achievement to rally together with empathy and kindness to join forces in response to this existential crisis. This shift in behavior towards what matters for humanity and environmental survival was a significant achievement component in our response to COVID-19. The dialogue was attended by 150 learners from various schools of the Kwa Thoyana community (Inkwali Primary, Ophapheni Primary, Vumandaba High School).

The dialogue with young people sought to encourage youth to work together to build a caring and proud African society based on shared values and vision. Moreover, the dialogue gave young people a platform to have conversations on Africa and Africa’s culture and heritage. Youth highlighted that it was imperative to change the narrative of Africa as there have been many different types of misrepresentation of Africa. The negative narratives listed by young people included that Africans were not united, practice witchcraft, and poor. With these, it was important to change the narrative through knowledge sharing, uniting, taking pride in who we are, and respecting each other.

Since Africa Day is not a national day in South Africa, youth emphasized that local, and traditional leaders must take an active role and lead in popularizing the day. Moreover, youth and community members have a role to play in opening learning platforms that will enable information sharing about Africa and its history. Furthermore, the participants acknowledged Africa’s triumphs of continuing to be resilient despite the challenges in a time such as the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, they highlighted Africa’s collective obstacles which included gender-based violence, xenophobia, discrimination, the killing of albinos, racism, tribalism to mention a few. To address these, the participants argued that there was a need for effective law enforcement on gender-based violence, the need to unite, and the need for voices of traditional leaders in educating especially young people. In concluding the dialogue, young people elucidated that we need to unite as Africans as we are creative thinkers, resilient and that we have a great deal of potential yet untapped in Africa. Moreover, we need to continue contributing to the development of our continent.

After the dialogue at Inkwali Primary School Hall, we then proceeded to the Institute of Afrikology Resource Centre for the celebrations of Africa Day where we were joined by the KwaZulu Natal government led by Premier Sihle Zikalala, Inkosi Hlengwa from Kwa Thoyana Traditional Council, and the provincial KwaZulu Natal Department of Sports, Arts, and Culture under the leadership of MEC Hlengiwe Mavimbela, and. The theme for the celebrations was “The Arts, Culture, and Heritage: Levers for Building Africa We Want.”

The event created a platform for the government to feature messaging which encouraged unity among the African people despite their diverse identity and heritage. Both Inkosi and the Premier called for unity and condemned violence targeting non-South Africans and emphasized oneness and treating each other with dignity and respect in building a cohesive and Africa we want.  The Premier also emphasized the importance of being producers of our food and being suppliers and support each other as that was key to building a resilient Africa.

In conclusion, the day also had a taste of Africa displays where different nationalities which included South Africans, Congolese, Zimbabweans, Burundians, and Rwandese had an opportunity to showcase their traditional food. Also, we had a fashion parade where South African and Congolese designers showcased their collaborative work. The event also showcased South Africa’s diverse backgrounds and cultures through different art forms and to promote social cohesion. We had Burundian drummers and various South African music groups.

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AFRICA UNITE SCHOOL CLUBS LEADERSHIP CAMPS, 2021 REPORTS: WESTERN CAPE

This year’s Africa Unite School Club Camps were different from the previous years because of Covid-19 restriction, but it didn’t deprive us from having fun and enjoying a fulfilling experience. From Friday 23rd April to Sunday 9th May, the Africa Unite School Club team hosted three Leadership camps at Tshisimani Bertha House in Mowbray, Cape Town followed by our final camp at Ashton Public Combined School, a rural town two hours outside of Cape Town. 

Instead of hosting one big leadership camp for all WC schools, the team had to shorten the 4-day program to a two day capacitation workshop without an overnight stay, to avoid having super spreader events. Each “camp” brought together cabinet members from three different schools to keep the overall number of participants below 25. With this strategy, AU was able to successfully capacitate 60 learners from all our partner schools.

1. Camp: Gardens Commercial High School, Princeton Secondary School (Mitchells Plain), and Dr. Nelson Mandela High School (Nyanga) 

2. Camp: Rosendaal Secondary School (Delft), Hector Peterson FET College (Kraaifontein), and Salt River Secondary School

3. Camp: Masibambane Secondary School (Kraaifontein), Heideveld Secondary School and Portland High School (Mitchells Plain)

4. Camp: Ashton Combined Public School (Zolani, Langeberg District)

Leadership and teambuilding

The objective of the annual School Club camps is to sharpen learners’ leadership and communication skills. It is also a space for learners to discuss important issues in their schools and communities, and collectively come up with solutions that help them drive positive changes in their surroundings. Furthermore, they get to know and to different strategizing tools they can use to organise their projects and events. We were amazed by inspiring groups of young leaders!

Learners from Portland High School presenting their Community Map.

First day: learners getting to know each other, their communities and Africa Unite

When arriving, the learners were given the “What’s my Why” worksheet to fill out before doing some getting to know each other’s games and explaining why they individually chose to join AUSC. The following activity was “What’s Our Why”, for them to reflect on their purpose as a team. After that, Akhona Madikane, School Club facilitator, explained what Africa Unite is and why it exists which helped to connect their involvement in AUSC to a bigger vision. Akhona also addressed the issue of bullying at schools and the learners thought of reasons, consequences and solutions for this. Subsequently, they did an activity to identify the current school climate at their respective schools. It started with a mental walkthrough of a typical school day, after which they had to grade different areas of their schools such as Support of Diversity, Teaching Quality, Student-student / Student-Adult / Adult-Adult Relationships as well as physical and psychological safety. As a team, they then had to determine the most favorable and least favorable areas at their school to get an idea of what were the most urgent things to change. 

After lunch, the learners were invited to express their creativity by developing a role play on one to three priority areas they wanted to change in their school as well as read out their mission statement to everyone. Then it was time for some Community Mapping where learners had to geolocate the stakeholders and hot spots near their schools. Day 1 ended with an activity called the Africa Unite Idea Bank, where learners got tasked to gather at least twenty ideas for possible projects, without any limit on feasibility. This activity stimulated creativity and prepared everyone for the next day.  

Second day: precising an action plan for each Africa Unite School Clubs

During the second day, learners were given practical tools on Project Planning Basic, including how to organise a successful event, how to raise money and how to recruit more members. After receiving the theoretical input, it was then their turn to put this knowledge into practice and consider at least five projects from their AU Idea Bank that they want to organise for 2021. Each school club got tasked to develop an Action Plan for their first project and present it to the group to receive feedback. After lunch, each school club drafted a Year Plan summarizing the name of each event, the person responsible, the possible stakeholders and the date. Feedback was given after each presentation. Some really interesting and innovative projects came out of this, such as giving talks in different classes on the importance of using LGBTQI sensitive personal pronouns such as they/them. Others saw the need to fundraise and visit local orphanages to show the kids some love and attention. Day 2 was also the occasion to present AUSC’ other Programs such as the Youth Reporters Program, Career Guidance and the Social Emotional Learning Forum. 

Learners from Masibambane Secondary School presenting their Year Plan.

Highlights: role playing, engaging debates & special visitors

Since different camps were held, some particularities emerged from each one. For example, during the first camp learners had the opportunity to watch a play on immigration and during the third camp engaging debates on feminism and the use of gender pronouns arose. We also welcomed special visitors throughout the different camps, such as Mr. Mavovane, Principal of Hector Peterson High School, Mr. Zoe Nkongolo, director of Africa Unite, and Qureisha Nagdee, SA Local Programme Coordinator for Dreikonigsaktion (DKA), one of Africa Unite’s funders.

Learners were able to give feedback at the end of each camp. They enjoyed the combination of educational and physical games. Indeed, the camps were driven by activities which were always related to leadership and communication skills (La Diligence, Spot the difference, Leadership qualities, Think outside the box…). Some of the learners told us that they have learned a lot in terms of leadership, stating in particular that a leader must lead but is not a boss, that a person must also know how to delegate the work and have a good support system. They liked working as teams, even if it can by time be challenging it is something that they will encounter in other social interactions in the future. 

Proactive groups with large horizons

All in all, those young leaders formed dynamic and preemptive groups who are now ready to endorse the motto ”be the change you want to see” in their schools and communities. They are creative, engaged and full of ideas. We are awaiting with pleasure the implementation of all their projects.

Thank you to all the learners who were part of Africa Unite School Clubs Camps of 2021, and congratulations, keep up the good work! Those are the future leaders of South Africa! We are looking forward to seeing them at our future events and follow up on the progress of their projects.

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AFRICA UNITE SCHOOL CLUBS LEADERSHIP CAMPS, 2021 REPORTS: KWAZULU-NATAL

On the 28th and 29th of April 2021, Africa Unite hosted their Africa Unite School Leadership camp for the school club in KwaZulu-Natal with 19 learners 12 females and 7 males. The camp took place at Hilltop Manor in Durban North. We hosted school club members, 8 from Ikusasalentsha High School (Inanda), 10 from Lamontville High School (Lamontville), and 1 from Northlands Girls High School (Durban North) in Durban, KwaZulu Natal province. These schools are located in communities that are plagued by the high rate of teenage pregnancy, bullying, substance abuse, and lack of proper schooling infrastructure, poverty, and poor basic service delivery; from textbooks delivery to water and electricity, and even lack of proper sanitation. These factors create an overall low academic performance and in some instances lead to school violence.

Succinctly, the main objective of the school camp was to capacitate the club’s cabinets to improve their leadership skills and effectiveness as agents of change. Moreover, it opened a space for young leaders to engage on issues they are battling with at school and in their communities. In addition, the learners were capacitated to understand their roles and responsibilities as cabinet members and parliamentarians. The camp in KwaZulu Natal was facilitated by one of our peer educators, Blessing Nyuswa, and the camp learners to be innovative, critical thinking, and how to take action to drive social change in their respective schools.

The learners were given the “what’s my why” worksheet to fill out for them to better understand what they are bringing to the group as they journey together to start an inspired team. From these, some learners highlighted that it was their first time to be exposed to such leadership platforms as the exercise helped them to clearly define and understand the value they were bringing into the group and what they can learn from each other. In addition, they elucidated the challenges they had in schools which intrigued them to pursue addressing them.

The learners had an opportunity to learn more about the origins of Africa Unite and the School program to understand the work AU does and how they can link their initiatives to the objectives of the school club program. The learners had the opportunity to identify the current school climate and they had to role-play the issues. The issues displayed included drug abuse, verbal abuse by teachers, littering, bullying, lack of sporting activities, to mention a few. In mapping their communities, the learners identified assets that can be used to address the issues faced by the school, which included sports grounds, community halls, libraries, and schools. They also went on to identify the hotspots in the community which includes, crime and substance abuse hotspots. Finally, they identified stakeholders which included, Department of Social Development, South African Police Service, Department of Education, Ward Councillors, teachers, learners, and the community at large.

The learners also came up with various projects they were to do in their respective schools to address the challenges they were facing. From these, they indicated that they wanted to start with a combined anti-substance abuse sports day (focusing on ball games like netball, soccer, cricket, etc). On a sporting day, they will also have a short dialogue and presentations to raise awareness of substance abuse. The other initiatives they are looking forward to doing included having programs focusing on promoting African cultures to learn more about other African countries, clean-up programs and capacity building on minute and report writing, and on how to plan an activity.

On another note, the learners were shown the presentation on good leadership which outlined the typologies and styles of leadership. This opened a discussion on how learners understood good leadership where they defined leadership and what it entails. Following this, to further expand their understanding of the structure of the school club, the learners played a game called guess who. The functions and responsibilities of the cabinet and for the rest of the ministers were presented to the learners so that they can well understand what is expected from them. This activity allowed them to understand the structure of the cabinet, their functions, and how they worked together. After the capacitation on their portfolios, there was a discussion held on how they can curb the social ills they face in their schools and communities. They come up with possible solutions to creating awareness campaigns and events to address these issues, having educational distributional materials, inviting different stakeholders.

In concluding the training, learners outlined how they were going to execute their projects in schools and those who will be responsible for each process. Both Lamontville and Ikusasalentsha decided to do a talent show which will embrace and expose youth talent while also fundraising for the school club. The Minister of Sport, Art, and Culture, and entertainment will be responsible for this project working together with the Minister of Finance, the Principal, and the RCL. They are planning to have this talent show on the 18th of June 2021 at the Lamontville High School Sports Ground. The activity will open a platform for young people to showcase their talent, and invite well-known artists, Department of Education, Department of Social Development, Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, other schools and raise funds for the school club. Posters and school Facebook pages will be used to invite people. In closing, learners were awarded certificates of completing the AU leadership camp of 2021.

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Exploring Human Rights through self-expression

Celebration of youth leaders: an afternoon of SELF and poetry

Every Wednesday, a group of local and migrant school leaders gather online for the Social Emotional Learning Forum (SELF) to discuss relevant issues affecting their personal lives and communities. In acknowledgment of both Human Rights Month (March) and Sexual Harassment Awareness Month (April), Africa Unite hosted a special event on April 7th, 2021.

Our special guest, the poet, publisher, activist, and tv personality Kay-Dee Mashile welcomed the audience. In the first part, the participants focused on sexual harassment discussion and how it affects them personally and socially. The second part focused on the winners’ announcement of the Africa Unite Poetry Competition on Human Rights Day.  

Out of the 18 poetry submissions received, seven got shortlisted and received a chance to perform their spoken word live infront of the camera during the Zoom event, which saw an attendance of over 30 learners from different cultural backgrounds and provinces.  

This event was so successful that Africa Unite decided to renew it for Africa Month (May) and Refugee Month (June). Kay-Dee Mashile offered to partner with Africa Unite for the Poetry contest. She even extended an invitation to our young writers to submit their work for the next competition. The top 5 will be published in The Poetry Pulpit Journal, which comes out every month. The Journal is also recorded as a podcast every few months.

This online event brought together over 30 persons, more than half of whom have a migration background.

SELF-active discussion about sexual harassment

Every week, through the SELF program, each participant can propose a topic and moderate the debate. As an opener, Peer educator Avuzwa Ngubo facilitated a game where participants collectively had to create a poem with the first line being “No man is an Island.” Then, the youth shared their different views on sexual harassment, which led to tackling other vital subjects such as gender differences, equal rights, toxic masculinity, consent, and social media users. In the end, youth acknowledged that we are all humans who live in the same world and experience feelings. We have to help each other take accountability for what needs to be done to generate change in our communities—as a youth, being a proactive actor of change means starting in your own environment, whether with your family or friends. No action is too small if it is done intentionally.

Event’s poster: “Poetry competition on Human Rigts – Announcement of winners & original spoken word”.

Poetry Competition for Human Rights

This poetry competition was launched during Human Rights Month. It was extended outside the SELF group, and there were 18 submissions in total, from which seven were shortlisted. Those shortlisted were allowed to perform their poetry during the event. After powerful recitals and online voting via Zoom poll, the winners were finally announced as follow:

1st: Death of an African Dream, Sasikelelwa Matshayana (R500)

2nd: A thousand more tears, Natasha Muberuka (R300)

3rd: We are all born free and equal, Fayth (R200)

4th: A child has a right too, Danielle Uwacu Ndagijimana – grade 4, the youngest participant (R100)

A special moment with guest Kay-Dee Mashile

Kay-Dee Mashile joined this event to share her own experience as a poet and an activist. She gave some valuable advice to the young writers. She reminded them that blogs and social media are very significant to reach a larger audience, but she recommended only to share small parts of their poems, just enough to convey their style and still own their work. She also talked about the motivation behind writing, making some inspiring comments:

“The importance of activism is not about what we are against but who we are for.”

Writing can be used as a form of activism, but you have to know:  What are you standing for? Who are you speaking for?

All in all, we would like to thank all of our participants and are looking forward to the next event, where we expect great contributions on the topic of Africa.

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AUSC Anti-Bullying statement

19 APRIL 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BULLYING MUST STOP IN ALL LEVELS OF THE SOCIETY

Bullying is a serious challenge facing many learners across the world. School bullying often takes place in and outside of school premises. In most cases, a group of learners would isolate one student who would become vulnerable to either physical, verbal, or emotional bullying. Female learners from poor backgrounds and migrant communities are often victims of this kind of bullying. According to Crime statistics of July 2020, 345 serious assaults and 546 common assault cases were opened due to bullying in the country’s schools.

On Monday, the 12 April 2021, a video of a 15-year-old learner Lufuno Mavhungu at Mbilwi Secondary School in Limpopo being attacked by fellow learners went viral on social media and sparked fury among many. Mavhungu is seen being repeatedly slapped while other pupils cheered on, taking a video of the incident. Once back home, she locked herself in her room and died after allegedly overdosing on prescription pills.  She was rushed to hospital on Monday evening and was certified dead upon arrival.  

This incident indicates the failure of Ubuntu and the growing of bystanders culture in South Africa society. Bullying is a longstanding challenge and sadly has never been appropriately addressed and now resulted in a young girl taking her life.

The death of Lufuno has shocked everyone in the country. Learners from the Africa Unite School Clubs also shared their views on the seriousness of bullying in schools. They condemned the incident to ensure that no learner goes through the same experience as Lufuno went through. Below are some of their comments:

“It is painful to see how we as the future leaders have become so toxic and detrimental. It is very sad to experience the trauma we have been putting each other through in the past years. It is only now we actually come to the realization of the fact that we are as good as the perpetrators because we do not only ignore these incidents during their occurrence, but we also contribute to the victim’s demise,” said Princess Mkhwanazi, 17 years old and President of the Africa Unite School Club at the Newgate College (Hillbrow).

“Children have to die and commit suicide first; women have to be reported missing and discovered dead, days later for us to realize that there’s a problem and it needs to be fixed,” Princess added.  

“I am saddened by the news of the grade 10 learner who committed suicide because of bullying. Lufuno was ridiculed on Facebook because someone thought she was ugly. This indicates that this incident was deliberate. This shows the amount of self-hate amongst women, which is ignored in our daily lives,” said Nikita Nqwaba, grade 11 learner, Princeton High School (Cape Town).

Nikita Nqwaba added this“Lufuno, we are sorry we never heard your cries until the last day. No one deserves to go through what you went through. Rest in peace, beautiful Lufuno, and may you cry no more.”

“What happened to Lufuno shocked me! But, one thing, I asked myself, is how many learners or children have been killed because of bullying, and what can we do as the youth? What can we do as the people of this country? I feel it’s not only the youth’s responsibility but everyone’s responsibility. We need to stand against bullying and GBV; we need to know why all these things are happening and what we can do to stop them. We need to have programs that are going to be based on bullying so that it can be easy for youth to talk when they have a problem at school.”

Said  Khanyo Lose (Grade 11, Masibambane Secondary School in Kraaifontein, Cape Town)

School Club Members propose the following to the Department of Education:

  • To build the confidence of  learners starting from primary school
  • To promote activities that enhance social-emotional learning (SEL) at the school level
  • To increase the visibility of social workers at schools in disadvantaged communities
  • To explain concept of bullying to the learners in their languages as most of them do not understand its implications.
  • To create safe spaces where the learners can feel safe to report bullying.

#STOPBULLYING

The Africa Unite School Club Programme gives learners from disadvantaged backgrounds a platform to learn new skills, share their own experience with peers, sharpen their leadership skills, and promote the role of youth as equal partners in developing their schools and communities with the slogan “My school is my community“.

Contact Person: Akhona Madikane,

Cell: 0812577877

Email: akhona@africaunite.org.za

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Calling all the shots: follow up dialogue on equitable access to vaccines

On the 10th of April 2021, Africa Unite in partnership with Umoja skills development, hosted a webinar on COVID 19 vaccine efficacy which was a follow up on a previous dialogue hosted on the 13th of March 2021 engaging with the migrant and refugee community leadership. The event gathered migrant leaders from all over South Africa to discuss vaccine efficacy with a representative from Doctors without borders to understand the efficacy of new vaccines. The webinar sought to clear up any misunderstandings about Covid-19 vaccines.

We had the privilege to welcome Sister Nompumelelo Matangana from Doctors without borders.

The topics discussed included vaccine efficacy and make-up as well as the experience of a frontline worker deployed at the very beginning of the global pandemic.

Our speaker gave valuable insights into her experiences and expertise: Sister Matangana highlighted that South Africa has always been a Pro-vaccine country and has one of the most vaccine strict programs internationally. She also pointed out that vaccinating people regardless of documentation status in a country is of the utmost importance to gain “Herd Immunity” and bring this pandemic under control. Sister Matangana also stated that the failure of the medical community, civil society and the State to start educating the general public in layman’s terms about the virus and the advantages of vaccines, created the conditions for “Fake news” and false information to take hold.

Sister Matangana had recommended that the general public, civil society and the scientific community should continue to pressure the National government to firstly pressure foreign governments to waive patent rights and gain the patents to vaccine make-up in order to start manufacturing vaccines faster and cheaper as opposed to ordering them from foreign based pharmaceuticals and governments.

The floor was opened to further engage participants and the speaker on the topics discussed as well as provide recommendations.

The participants had reached consensus on a number of recommendations which are detailed below:

Firstly, it was agreed that community leaders and civil society should run information campaigns to familiarise their respective communities with the registration process for vaccines and to help acquaint communities with the healthcare workers in their regions.

Secondly, it was stated that community organs and civil society should increase the intensity of information campaigns regarding public health and the pandemic, which was a sentiment echoed from the previous dialogue.

Finally, it was stressed, with much agreement that the action group created in the first meeting should be at the forefront teaching their community about the Electronic Vaccine Data System or EVDS and dispel any misconceptions surrounding the system.

On the 10th of April 2021, Africa Unite in partnership with Umoja skills development, hosted a webinar on COVID 19 vaccine efficacy which was a follow up on a previous dialogue hosted on the 13th of March 2021 engaging with the migrant and refugee community leadership. The event gathered migrant leaders from all over South Africa to discuss vaccine efficacy with a representative from Doctors without borders to understand the efficacy of new vaccines. The webinar sought to clear up any misunderstandings about Covid-19 vaccines.

We had the privilege to welcome Sister Nompumelelo Matangana from Doctors without borders.

The topics discussed included vaccine efficacy and make-up as well as the experience of a frontline worker deployed at the very beginning of the global pandemic.

Our speaker gave valuable insights into her experiences and expertise: Sister Matangana highlighted that South Africa has always been a Pro-vaccine country and has one of the most vaccine strict programs internationally. She also pointed out that vaccinating people regardless of documentation status in a country is of the utmost importance to gain “Herd Immunity” and bring this pandemic under control. Sister Matangana also stated that the failure of the medical community, civil society and the State to start educating the general public in layman’s terms about the virus and the advantages of vaccines, created the conditions for “Fake news” and false information to take hold.

Sister Matangana had recommended that the general public, civil society and the scientific community should continue to pressure the National government to firstly pressure foreign governments to waive patent rights and gain the patents to vaccine make-up in order to start manufacturing vaccines faster and cheaper as opposed to ordering them from foreign based pharmaceuticals and governments.

The floor was opened to further engage participants and the speaker on the topics discussed as well as provide recommendations.

The participants had reached consensus on a number of recommendations which are detailed below:

Firstly, it was agreed that community leaders and civil society should run information campaigns to familiarise their respective communities with the registration process for vaccines and to help acquaint communities with the healthcare workers in their regions.

Secondly, it was stated that community organs and civil society should increase the intensity of information campaigns regarding public health and the pandemic, which was a sentiment echoed from the previous dialogue.

Finally, it was stressed, with much agreement that the action group created in the first meeting should be at the forefront teaching their community about the Electronic Vaccine Data System or EVDS and dispel any misconceptions surrounding the system.


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An open letter to the Minister of Home Affairs

                                                                                                            Cape Town, 31 March 2021

DR. AARON MOTSOALEDI

THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS

HALLMARK BUILDING

230 JOHANNES RAMOKHOASE

PRETORIA

By email: Minister@dha.gov.za

Re: Request for a Meeting with Honourable Minister of the Department of Home Affairs

Dear Honourable Minister,

Greetings from Africa Unite!

First of All, we would like to congratulate the Department of Home Affairs for the landmark agreement recently signed with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to eliminate the backlog in the asylum seekers system.  We believe that this will change the lives of many deserving asylum seekers who have waited in limbo for so long to have the proper papers.

In the light of the ongoing closure of the Refugee Reception Offices (RROs), we are sending this communication to share some of the challenges facing the refugee communities due to this decision. 

It has been a whole year since the RROs were closed. In your Statement dated 30 September 2020, you confirmed that the refugee documents that expired during the lockdown would be deemed valid until 31 January 2021; this was further extended to 31 March 2021. Last week it was extended again to June 2021 with an option to renew online. Although these gazetted regulations were fair but, on the ground, their implementation had serious challenges that affected the lives of many refugees and asylums seekers to access various services by both public and private sectors.

To name just a few:

  • Refugees’ learners were denied registration to schools as they were being asked to provide valid documents
  • Refugees who wanted to apply for a driving licence were penalised as well as those whose PDP expired
  • Some refugees’ bank accounts were frozen by banks
  • Many Refugees who lost their jobs during this period of Covid 19 were denied applying for their UIF
  • Many refugees could not renew their travel documents, including long-distance truck drivers
  • Many missed opportunities to apply for studies and bursaries
  • We cannot forget to mention many refugees and asylum seekers who lost their jobs because of expired papers.

The above list is just a few cases due to the closure of the refugee receptions. When you first announced about closing the offices in April 2020, we all understood and agreed with you, but closing the office the whole year despite that the country has moved to Level 1 has become unbearable for vulnerable groups such as refugees and asylum seekers.

On another note, we just recently learnt that you have set up a Ministerial task team to review some permits that the Department issued from 2004. Though we understand the need to fight corruption we are so worried that this measure is coming to add more to the already existing backlog.

Dear Honourable Minister,

Looking at the implications and agency of the issues highlighted above, as a Youth Empowerment and Human Rights Organisation, we would like to request an urgent meeting with the Honourable Minister.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Respectfully Yours

———————————————

Lyle R Breda (Mr)

Human rights Project Development Officer

IDASA Building

6 Spin Street

Cape Town, 8001

Tel: 021 4616551/ 083 9588133

Email:  info@africaunite.org.za

CC:

  • Mr Livhuwani Tommy Makhode, DHA Director-General
  • Hon. Adv Bongani Thomas Bongo, Chairperson of Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs
  • Commissioner Angie Makwetla, The Commissioner responsible for the rights of Children and Migrants, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC)
  • UN Agencies in charge of Migrants & Refugees (UNHCR; IOM; ILO)
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COVID-19 vaccines: Nationalism, Access and Information

On the 13th of March 2021, Africa Unite in partnership with the Global Assembly: Peoples vaccine campaign hosted a webinar on COVID 19 vaccine access and efficacy to engage with the migrant and refugee communities. The event gathered migrant leaders from all over South Africa to discuss vaccine access, efficacy and the dangers of nationalising a resource like vaccines. The discussion centred around the current global COVID-19 pandemic and the fear of a lack of equitable access to vaccines for refugee and migrant communities. The webinar sought to clear up any misunderstandings about Covid-19 vaccines.

Molecular Biologist Cleavon K Cloete addressing the audience on vaccine make-up

We had the privilege to welcome Ms Liliane Mukidi a migrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr Cleavon K Cloete (A Molecular Biologist and Master of Pharmacology from the University of Cape Town) and Mr Danmore Chuma a Journalist a migrant from Zimbabwe.

The topics discussed included vaccine efficacy and make-up as well as the prevention of resource exclusion and profiteering.

Our speakers gave valuable insights into their experiences and expertise: Mr Cloete highlighted that all vaccines undergo strenuous clinical trials to ensure effectivity and safety before being approved for public use and assured the participants that the current batch of COVID-19 vaccines are tested by South Africa Health Products Regulatory Authority are safe for use by the general public. He also pointed out that vaccinating people regardless of documentation status in a country is of the utmost importance to gain “Herd Immunity” and bring this pandemic under control. He used a dot colour analogy to explain how infection works in a vaccinated community vs an unvaccinated community.

Ms Mukidi shared her personal battle with COVID-19 being a survivor of the virus. Ms Mukidi highlighted the challenge faced by migrant women due to the nature of the work they tend to do as domestic workers, informal traders and farm workers and that they could afford to stay out of work in order to effectively provide for their families. Furthermore, Ms Mukidi had mentioned that she along with her team of migrant women had been infected with Covid-19. She had also mentioned that her and a group of migrant women led a drive to distribute masks in the townships during the lockdown. Ms Mukidi recommends that migrant women cannot afford to be left behind and should be included and possibly prioritised in the vaccine rollout.

Facilitator Mira Modise conducting a Q&A session near the end of the session

Lastly Mr Chuma highlighted that unity and resource sharing during times of crisis should be the standard procedure and that issues like vaccine nationalism, hoarding and xenophobia will end up doing more harm than good, this virus knows no borders. He also stated that more could be done by State functions and Civil society to design more penetrative information campaigns in order to reach all communities in South Africa and to dispel any fake news in relation to the vaccines and virus circulating.  

The floor was opened to further engage participants and speakers on the topics discussed as well as provide recommendations.

The participants had reached consensus on a number of recommendations which are detailed below:

Firstly, the participants had agreed that more information sharing platforms like the one hosted should be held more regularly to reach more people, working with religious and cultural leaders as well as making use of social media information drives.

Secondly, it was stated that women, religious and traditional leaders should be more proactive in mobilising their communities to demand equitable access to vaccines and other associated resources.

Thirdly, it was suggested migrant and refugee groups should join The Peoples Vaccine Campaign so their voices can be heard.

Finally, it was established, with much agreement that an action group made up of various migrant and refugee groups on COVID-19 vaccines, be formed. Africa Unite has been tasked to convene the first meeting with the task team on the 17th of March 2021.

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The deaths of 4 children that could have been avoided

12th February, 2021

Press Statement

Immediate release

South Africa has been ranked as one of the most unequal states due to the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, high unemployment rates, high crime levels, and many other social ills. Disadvantaged communities have poor infrastructure and harsh living conditions, which expose children to high levels of neglect, harm, and injury in the home and community.

As Africa Unite youth, we are devasted by the untimely death of four boys from Gugulethu District, Cape Town: Iva Kalikopu (13), Azola Quweni (13), Nqabayethu Mlaza (12) and Axolile Mambangula (11). These lives were lost due to the collapse of a sand dune near the N2 at the Bocherds Quarry Road intersection on the 8th of February 2021. Like others, children played at the dunes and noted a hole they thought could serve as a playhouse. Unfortunately, the dune collapsed, closing in four of the boys and only allowing a fifth child (five years of age) to run home and report the event to their families.

We want to note that these children were part of the Africa Unite Children’s program that was initiated to keep children off the streets. Such a tragic incident is a true reflection of the need for action to be taken in response to the challenges faced by children living in informal settlements. This is not the first time we have raised the need to have playgrounds for these children, and sadly our pleas seem to be ignored.

The townships are overcrowded; hence, children tend to find other alternative playgrounds, leaving them more vulnerable to injury and even death. We are concerned that these children’s lives could have been spared if the City of Cape Town had fix this sand hole after receiving complaints from residents over two years ago.

This tragic incident happened during a critical period of COVID-19 where schools from the disadvantaged communities are closed, and the Africa Unite program is also temporarily closed.

Just imagine if these children were from the suburbs. This incident could have attracted more national and international outcry; even some authorities could have been fired but because these children are from a township, the sad event has been even forgotten barely a week after the tragic event.

We call on the City of Cape Town not to turn a blind eye on the reported and unaddressed service delivery challenges. These need to be addressed urgently and holistically to avoid similar incidences in the future.

The current open spaces behind the following informal settlements of Kanana, Europe, and Barcelona are not conducive for children to play in as there is a swamp with llegal dumping taking place. We are also disturbed that many of the children we work with have experienced traumatic events at Borcheds Quarry Road, such as the shootings and taxi violence that have become normal.

As Africa Unite’s youth, we remind the City of Cape Town not to ignore that every child has a right to life and the right to play in a safe environment.

We cannot continue to be bystanders – we will be opening a case for investigation with the Human Rights Commission as this incident could have been avoided.

For more information, please contact Silindokuhle Hlazo, Coordinator of the Singamakhalipha Children’s Program* at Africa Unite on +27 64 093 4393 or info@africaunite.org.za

*This Press release is issued by Singamakhalipha Children’s Program together with Africa Unite’s youth. Based at the Gugulethu Sports Complex, the goal of the Singamakhalipha program is to provide holistic, psychosocial support to vulnerable children in townships. It intends to develop their confidence and ability to hope to dream – gives them a future and empowers them in life.
We want to build resilience and coping skills in our children so that they can face a wide range of social problems such as domestic violence, alcohol abuse, poverty and unemployment, child-headed households, sexual and gender-based violence, HIV/AIDS, and community violence, including xenophobia-related violence.

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