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

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!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.


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?

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.


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”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.
image8 (002).JPG

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.

image3 (002)

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. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2018 Gender Based Violence Workshop


Learners engaged in a workshop about the definition of gender.

What is a gender just society? How can we create it? These were among some of the questions tackled during Africa Unite’s School Club’s annual Gender Based Violence (GBV) workshop held on March 10th at the Africa Unite Offices. Africa Unite, Activate!and the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation came together to facilitate a GBV workshop with four schools from across Cape Town.  This event allowed Learners to have meaningful conversations about gender, what gender-based violence means to them, and what they can do within their schools to promote a gender just society. The purpose of this event was to unpack the term “gender” and cultivate a deeper understanding of the topic in order to promote understanding, tolerance and respect.


Learners were able to converse about the difference between sex and gender and were given room to discuss their understanding of different gender-based terms and concepts. Intentional conversation about the construct and fluidity of gender was had and students offered valuable input to help the entire group grapple with the complexity of gender.


Learners broke into small groups to discuss what they believe a gender just society would look like.

Following this, the Learners were asked an open-ended question about their understanding of “gender-based violence”. Students named physical acts like “bullying”, “sexual abuse” and “domestic abuse”. Learners also recognized that abuse can consist of “emotional and verbal abuse”, “being excluded from spaces because of your gender”, “abusing power over others” and “being forced to act differently than how you feel” which can lead to “self harm or anger”. The facilitators also discussed the issue of economic abuse and the exploitation that occurs at the hands of economic dependence.


A highlight of the event was the small group conversations that were held in teams of five. Here the Learners were able to discuss what they believed a gender just society would look like.


Learners discussed GBV with members from others school clubs

The Learners mentioned the ability for men and women to hold the same power positions, for no person to be sexual abused or exploited, for all people to be accepted regardless of their sexuality or their gender and for all spaces and occupations and communities to be inclusive to all regardless of gender or appearance.

Learners then were able to discuss the framework for hosting their own GBV Hackathon in their respective schools. Several students expressed interest in having one of the facilitating organizations attend their school and help their club host their own GBV Hackathon.

To end the workshop, Learners were given the opportunity to discuss what they will take away from their workshop attendance. Many learners mentioned that they now feel better equipped to understand and respect all genders and people.


Thank you to all who left the learners smiling at the end of their workshop!

Learners noted their improved understanding of gender and GBV and their inspired commitment to solve GBV issues in their own community. In light of this project’s success, Africa Unite would like to extend thanks to Activate!, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation and the Learners from Nelson Mandela High, Portland High, Rosendaal High and Heideveld High. For more photos, please click here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2018 Youth Weekend Human Rights Training

Africa Unite held its annual Human Rights Training Weekend in partnership with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on the 23rd of February to the 25th of February 2018 at Goedegedacht Farm in Malmesbury Cape Town, South Africa.The training brought 30 young people from different backgrounds as follows: 25 local youth from South Africa among them was 1 refugee from Somalia, 1 from Nigeria and 1 from Kenya.


Vincent Williams Africa Unite Chairperson facilitating a morning session.

The group was also joined by 5 young people who are part of Africa Unite’s Youth Exchange Program coming from Cameroon, Namibia and Democratic Republic of Congo. The purpose of this exchange program is to continue building a bigger movement of young people in Africa that can collaborate together in the realisation of their human rights and to build a culture of human rights communities in Africa.

The training covered the following topics:

  • Human Rights Principles
  • Human Rights Education: What and Why?
  • Instruments protecting Human Rights locally and globally.
  • The rights of vulnerable people (people with disabilities, women, children, elderly people, refugees and migrants etc).
  • How to build Human Rights Communities.
  • How to facilitate human rights information sessions in various communities.


    Youth Peer Educators enjoying a meal together

One of the highlighted events of the weekend was the mock presentations to the African Union assembly by the youth who were divided in different African countries. The youths were placed into 5 countries in order to compete for $200 Billion offered by the World Bank through the African Union. Each country was asked to select a president and its cabinet. This resulted in the following five countries being selected: Namibia, Somalia, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and DRC. The above countries were instructed to deliver a presentation to the acting Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki. The youngest in the group, Celine Thomas from Bishop Lavis in Cape Town, was selected as the


DRC team delivering their presentation to the AU and World Bank Chairpersons

Chairperson of the African Union. Each country was tasked to do a presentation based on the following topics: a brief history about the country, current political issues, socio-economic and cultural dynamics, and how each country intends to use the $200 billion donation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

After interesting presentations from various countries, the winning country was selected by a panel that was composed of the chairperson of the African Union, and the President of the World Bank.The criterion was based on team work, knowledge of the country, history and background and how they were going to use the money to achieve the Sustainable Developmental Goals. Cameroon was selected as the winner of the evening and received a mock cheque of $200 billion for aid to their country. The purpose of this activity is to allow our youth to research and understand the political and socio-economic background of African countries. During one of the interval on day 2 the I.E.C had an


The newly trained youth peer educators pausing with their human rights manual and certificates after the trainin

opportunity to facilitate a leadership session to encourage the youth the be active citizens and custodians of democracy and good governance. Following the conclusion of the workshop, the youth from different backgrounds were extremely excited about the different levels of interactions, content of the training and the skills which were gained during this weekend. They reflected on their experiences, provided constructive feedback to enhance the program, and thanked Africa Unite for this learning opportunity. Overall, the youth made a clear commitment to go back in their respective communities and countries and conduct similar information sessions.Africa Unite would like to give a special thanks to Vincent Williams for the professional and high quality facilitation. Our special thanks also goes to our funders DKA- Austria, IEC, CCFD and other individuals.

For more pictures click here.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Launch of the Youth Innovation Lab in South Africa

Africa Unite in partnership with AYANA International held a 4-day workshop from 10,11, 12, and 17th of October 2017 with 15 learners who are part of the Masibambane Secondary School AU Club in Cape Town South Africa. The workshop titled Youth Innovation Lab sought to ignite the creative, problem-solving potential of these youth! This project is about informing the youth on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how they can develop innovative projects in order to realise these goals in their respective schools and communities.

Photo 6

Youth Innovation Lab Poster

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are part of the Global Agenda designed in 2015 by the United Nations’ 193-member states. They replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agreed in 2000 to reduce world poverty, which mainly focused only on the less developed countries. In contrast, the SDGs involve all the countries of the United Nations at the same level as they tackle many issues (poverty, socio-economic inequalities, gender issues, access to healthcare, education and climate change).

During the first 3 days, the learners had time to discuss some of the challenges they face in their schools and communities in relation to the SDG’s. Below are some of the topics which emerged;

  • High rate of school drop-outs, especially in township schools,
  • Lack of equipment and inadequate capacity of teachers to deliver quality education in township schools,
  • Marginalisation of the learners on all levels of decision making,
  • Majority of the underprivileged communities are characterised by poor service delivery and lack of access to basic socio-economic services that are necessary for survival

Following this the learners were divided into three groups then given the opportunity to identify solutions and develop projects that can address some of these issues. On the last day the learners were tasked to give a presentation on their project plan and budget. These presentations were done in the presence of African Monitor, one of the leading Pan African organisation championing youth participation on SDGs.

Below are the three projects which were identified by the learners;


One of the the 3 groups presenting their project

Group #1: Youth Taking Charge (YTC)

To reduce inequalities that are still existing in the post-apartheid South Africa and give young people a voice, YTC seeks to create a platform for learners to engage various stakeholders and decision makers in all levels of society for their voices to be heard (i.e. school, community, local and provincial government). The group will also inform other youth on good governance – how the local government works and how the public can participate in the decision, implementation and monitoring processes.

Group #2: School drop outs

The current school curriculum in most townships does not provide for creative and extramural opportunities such as music, art and sports. In these schools the focus is mainly on theoretical subjects’ contrary to suburb schools. As a result, some of the learners in township schools lack motivation, drive and interest thereby increasing the chances of dropping out of school. The group seeks to advocate and lobby provincial and national government to provide more resources to underprivileged schools for the above activities can take place.

Group #3: Creating a Safer School Environment

According to University of South Africa (UNISA) about 34% of learners have been bullied and 23% of the learners admitted being bullies, this has been a huge challenge in schools for the past years.  The learners have discovered that their school did not even have an anti-bulling policy. The group intends to schedule meetings with various stakeholders so that such a policy can be developed in various schools. Furthermore, the group would like to launch a campaign with the aim of raising awareness against bullying through various activities.


The group following one of the presentations with their lunch

The learners are currently developing the budget for each of the above thematic areas which will be submitted to AYANA International. Africa Unite would like to thank AYANA for this collaboration and also African Monitor for their technical support.

 For more pictures click here.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment