What does 23 years of Freedom mean to you?

23 years ago, the 27th of April 1994, South Africa had its first non-racial democratic election. This day pronounced the end of over 300 years of colonialism and segregation and is since then celebrated as Freedom Day. 23 years after, have things really changed? Are people still passionate about Freedom, one of their inalienable human rights? Do they feel free?

To put Freedom in motion and to collect the voices of people on this special day, Africa Unite organised a youth arts event on the 29th of April at the busy Gugulethu Mall, where more than 300 people were shopping and running their afternoon errands. This enabled us to create a congestion at the Mall as people were enjoying the dance moves.

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Let’s dance and act for freedom day! Xclamation Dance Team getting’ their groove on for Freedom day 

Freedom is not just a concept, or at least it shouldn’t be. It is a feeling, a right that’s meant to come alive every single day through our moves, our words; something we will sometimes have to fight for. That’s what was expressed through the choreography performed by Xclamation, an upcoming dance group from Klupmonts we partnered with for this event. The dancers, aged from 8 to 21, proved that Freedom is not a matter of age. It is an issue for everybody, not only for old generations who suffered the burden of segregation.

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The theater group from Christ Way High, after their engaging performance  

The children theater group of Christ Way High, led by Grant Solomon, also took part in our event. It was an opportunity for the children to remind the adults how significant Freedom is to all ages – Freedom of speech, Freedom to move, Freedom to access quality education, Freedom to access water sanitation and drink potable water, etc.

For this 23rd celebration of the Freedom Day, Africa Unite chose to give people space to express themselves and share their views on the past 23 years of freedom. To collect these voices we displayed a banner in which people were free to write their views on the question, “What does 23 years of Freedom meant to you?” More than 50 wrote their views on this banner.

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What does 23 years of freedom mean to you? 

This was a stark reminder to the people that there is no Freedom without them and this Freedom should be enjoyed by everyone living in South Africa. We also invited them to take part in the dancing or speak if they felt like, and many people took time out of their busy days to share their thoughts (and moves!) with us.

We have chosen to make a big noise after the event in Gugulethu, so stay tuned on our social media pages, Facebook and Youtube more particularly. We will release the testimonies and the video of the event soon.  We are working on an enquiry too, to collect more widely people’s testimony about Freedom in different communities of Cape Town. If you want to participate please contact us at 021- 461-6551 or email us at info@africaunite.org.za.

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Our MC for the day, Africa Unite Peer Educator Yonela Msongelwa

Thank you to our partners for this event: the Xclamation dance group and the children Theater group of Christway High for their performance, the Management team and the Security team of Gugulethu Square for enabling us to organise the event in the mall, the SIYON Motion Studios Team for capturing these beautiful moments of freedom and Dean Jates for the sound.

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Africa Unite’s School Club Ministers get to Shadow Provincial Minister Mr. Albert Fritz During the Month of April

The month of April was an exciting month for some of Africa Unite’s school club ministers!

Here in Cape Town, Africa Unite runs 5 school clubs in the Cape Flats area. Each school club is modeled after a country, where learners run their own “parliament”, complete with an elected president, 5 ministers ( a Minister of Information and Public Relations, a Minister of Sports Culture and Entertainment, a Minister of Finance, a Minister of Environment, and a Minister of Social Development), as well as thirty to fifty parliamentarians. The school cubs give young learners a platform to learn new skills, share their experiences, learn to fundraise, spark volunteerism, gain confidence, and let their voices be heard amongst their peers.

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Ms. Kelebogile Tsimatsima with the Provincial Minister of Social Development Mr. Albert Fritz (left) and Mayor Marius Koen of Saldanha Bay Municipality (right)

Africa Unite arranged for 5 of their learner ministers to shadow actual provincial Minister of Social Development for the Western Cape, Mr. Albert Fritz, for an invaluable learning experience. On April 3rd, Kelebogile Tsimatsima from Masibambane High School accompanied the Minister to Saldanha for a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) signing.  On April 4th Nabeelah Tonta from Heideveld High School accompanied Mr. Fritz to a UWC Substance Abuse Graduation. On April 11th, Nicole Buckton from Simunye High School went with the Minister to visit Ward 25, and attended a Warrior Women Brunch Workshop. Finally, on the 12th of April, Ntswaki Bomuana from Dr. Nelson Mandela High School shadowed Mr. Fritz in Kraaifontein, where he handed out awards to social development workers at the DSD Long Service Awards day.

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Ms. Nableeha Tonta and the Minister of Social Development

All of the learners who shadowed Mr. Fritz wrote a short paper about what they learned and how the experience helped them to be better leaders of their school clubs. They will take what they observed and learned back to the clubs and present this information to their fellow parliamentarians . Ntswaki Bomuana said of her experience, “It was like a dream.. meeting with the Minister of Social Development was so amazing and exciting. I didn’t expect Mr. Fritz to give me all of his attention because I knew that people like him are very busy, and so I was very much surprised when he listened to every word I said and answered every question I asked. I learnt a lot of from him, I learnt that a person who reads never gets old and that if we study hard than there are no mountains too tall, no ocean too deep and no storms too strong for us to achieve what we have aimed for and that motivated me a lot.”

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Ms. Ntswaki Bomuana and Minster Fritz at the DSD Long Service Awards

A special thanks to the Western Cape government and Minister of Social Development Mr. Albert Fritz for sharing your time and imparting your knowledge on the next generation’s leaders.

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Clean Up Day in the Informal Settlement of Europe

On the 20th of April, youth from Africa Unite, in partnership with the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape Government, a representative of the local ward counselor’s office, and representatives from the Water and Sanitation Department, teamed up with the community of Europe for a day of cleaning, learning and fun. The Europe township clean-up day was a continuation of work that was initiated by Africa Unite in conjunction with the community in April of 2015 around issues of water and sanitation.

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The Africa Unite team, lead by one of Europe’s community leaders, assessing the water and sanitation challenged in the community

The informal settlement of Europe is located inside the Gugulethu township. It is one of Cape Town’s poorest communities, a remnant from the apartheid era, lacking adequate water and sanitation systems.  Unfortunately, these issues have contributed to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the area, and a high risk of water and fecal-borne illnesses like cholera, TB, diarrhea, and intestinal worms. These illnesses especially affect children and youth, as unclean water and poor sanitation are a leading cause of child mortality. This is consistent with statistics showing that in developing countries about 80% of illnesses are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions.

Based on this information, Africa Unite and the City of Cape Town came up with the following objectives for the Europe clean-up day:

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Community volunteers hard at work

  • Raise awareness on the importance of clean water
  • Raise awareness on the danger of bacterial infections and how to prevent them
  • Educate the community on the importance of the conservation of water
  • Educate the community on the importance of good hygiene
  • Lobbying for the issues of water and sanitation to be put on the map by the local authorities and hold them accountable
  • Provide skill training to solve small water and sanitation issues, giving the community the ability to improve their own water and sanitation programmes

The day started with a walking tour of the township for the volunteers from Africa Unite and the City of Cape Town to identify the various water and sanitation issues plaguing the community. After the walking tour, the event kicked off with introductions and welcomes from the various stakeholders, and cleaning supplies donated from the City of Cape Town were distributed to all the volunteers.

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A representative from the Water and Sanitation Department informing the volunteers on the importance of good hygiene

Then, it was time to get to work! Volunteers broke into teams to collect the rubbish polluting the area and filling the irrigation ditches. The event concluded with a very informative presentation hosted by the Water and Sanitation Department on the importance of conserving water and the many links between water, important sanitation methods, health, and the spread of germs and diseases.
The event was a success, with over one hundred people participating, and awareness in the community raised on both the issues of water conservation and climate change, and sanitation. Important ties between the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape government, and the Water and Sanitation departments were developed, and the path to future collaboration was built. Stay tuned to hear about our further involvement in the informal settlement of Europe, and click here to check out more pictures on our Facebook page.

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Fruits of the labour after a hard day of work!

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AU and TCOE Winelands Youth Training Camp, Simon’s Town

From the 7th to the 9th of April 2017, Africa Unite in collaboration with the Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE) held a youth human rights training camp at Froggy Pond Resort in Simon’s Town, Cape Town.

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Participants in the midst of discussion at the AU and TCOE training camp

The camp brought 25 youth, both South African and migrants, together from the farm regions of the Western Cape, such as Robertson, Montagu, Ashton and Bonnievale. The purpose of the camp was to discuss human rights with a focus on rights to land and food, as well as to consider youth and their relationship to land. More specifically, the various sessions at the camp emphasized the cross-cutting nature of the land issue and how it can affect the realization of human rights. It was explained how land is not only a source of livelihood for some; it is also central to socioeconomic and cultural rights, fostering strong ties to peoples’ identities.

The camp utilized a variety of methods such as group activities, information sessions, documentaries, and performances in order to convey the subject. The following topics were covered:

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The youth brainstorming on types of Human Rights 

  • Introduction to Human Rights
  • What are Human Rights?
  • The Human Rights Principles
  • Building Human Rights communities
  • Civil, Political and Socioeconomic rights
  • Rights of vulnerable groups including refugees and migrant workers

Once a general understanding of Human Rights was achieved, the facilitators began to focus on the issue of land and its role in the broader scope of human rights. The following was covered:

  • Right to Land and Food
  • Right to land for food production
  • Youth and their relationship to land
  • Difficulties hindering youths ability to gain access to land

 

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Presenting on Human Rights principals 

One of the highlights of the camp was the evening Truth and Reconciliation Commission activity, whereby the participants were divided into 5 smaller groups. Each group was given a land restitution case, such as forced removals from District Six, and was required to develop either a song and/or play that recreated the land violation, while demonstrating knowledge and historical understandings of these events and how they have come to shape the country’s political and socioeconomic realities.

An important aim and lesson of the camp was to encourage the youth to be active in exercising their democratic rights and to take responsibility in pushing for change in their communities, specifically with regards to challenging the legacy of the 1913 Land Act, which impedes upon their human rights and their right and access to land.  Therefore, the final activity of the camp focused on how the rural youth should organize themselves to facilitate real change. The youth developed an action plan, laying out the key strategies for the way forward, as well as identifying a core group of mobilizers in each of their respective areas.

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A group pic of the volunteers who agreed to be part of the task team in following up on their action plan

We would like to thank TCOE for reaching out to us for our collaboration in this camp and we look forward to following up with the camp participants on their human rights and land rights initiatives in their communities. To see more pictures of the event, click here. 

 

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Strategic Planning For The Africa Youth Exchange Programme (AEP)

From the 31st to the 2nd of April 2017, Africa Unite (AU) held a strategic planning workshop with 30 youths from 8 Southern Africa countries including local Africa Unite peer educators, who have been participating in its Africa Exchange Program for the past 3 years.

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Vincent Williams the facilitator of the strategic planning session engaging the youth in a discussion.

The main purpose of the strategic planning workshop was to trace and measure the progress made and challenges faced during the course of the project. It was also a platform to strengthen regional integration with partner organizations.

Further to that, the program was an opportunity to strategize, increase synergies, and start the movement of young peoples in the region.

The group of young  activists and development  practitioners managed to develop short and long term strategies on the following thematic areas; human rights awareness,

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Youth from different countries engaging in a group discussion on the strategies of promoting regional partnerships.

conflict resolution, research, data collection, youth empowerment, resource mobilization, monitoring and evaluation, documentation, outreach, and organizational capacity.

The youths were informed on their role as agents of transformation going forward, and vowed to implement lessons learnt in their respective countries and committed to be the ambassadors of the Africa Exchange Program.

The program which took place at the Goedgedacht Farm in Malmesbury, Western Cape Province saw youth delegates from the following 8 African countries participating:

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The youth delegates enjoying a meal together

Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Malawi, Kenya, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Tanzania.

For more pictures click here.

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“These Hands Don’t Hurt” Human Rights Month Basketball Tournament

In celebration of Human Rights Month, Africa Unite in partnership with the Delft South Africa Police Services (SAPS) hosted a basketball tournament at the Delft South Recreational Hall on the 18th of March. The event was themed “These Hands Don’t Hurt”, as the main purpose of the day was to convey the idea that the same hands used to destroy can be utilized to build a safer, more peaceful, better community.

The “These Hands Don’t Hurt” tournament is a continuation of ongoing involvement in Delft through Africa Unite’s conflict mediation work, as well as a continuation of a broader project initiated by of one of Africa Unite’s refugee peer educators named Melon who has created a multiracial basketball team in Delft. For more than 3 years, he has been teaching basketball to a group of more than 60 young people from this area. His profile is very interesting as he is a role model for the youth and a refugee sharing his skills to uplift local communities, thus fighting the idea that foreign nationals are always a burden for the country.

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Coacch Ekwanza “Merlin” Mosoko refereeing the match between the blue and yellow teams

 

The community of Delft has come into the national spotlight for multiple outbreaks of violence, including the eruption of young people killed at the end of 2016, and most recently for the flare-up of taxi related brutality. Today, Delft is far from a symbol of the unified, peaceful rainbow nation. On the contrary, this part of the city is notorious for its high crime rate, substandard schools, lack of jobs, killing of the police, Bundu courts and eviction embodied by the infamous Blikkiesdorp relocation camp.

The dire socioeconomic conditions affecting especially the youth of this community was the impetus for the “These Hands Don’t Hurt” youth basketball tournament. The event allowed the different stakeholders in attendance such as SAPS, the Enkosi Foundation, the Western Cape government, the Rainbow Arts Organization, Learners Movement of South Africa, the Delft Neighborhood Watch, the South African Red Cross, Matrix, and the Community Policing Forum of Delft to raise awareness around the crime issue in Delft.

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The participants of the tournament after receiving metals and trophies

Furthermore, the event was used as a platform to engage with the community on how sporting values, such as tolerance and team spirit, can be used as tools of promoting social cohesion. The event also aimed to rebuild positive relationships amongst the youth and to break down the barriers existing between the different people dwelling in Delft, namely black and coloured South Africans and foreign nationals. In addition, the presence of SAPS at the event allowed the youth to shift from their oftentimes violent confrontation with the police to a more peaceful interaction through sport.

The event was a success, with Coach Ekwanza “Merlin” Mosoko coaching and refereeing 6 different mix gendered youth basketball teams who competed amongst themselves. The halftime entertainment break featured wonderful performances by local talent: an acapella group, vocalist, and Afro DJ. World famous Cape Town rapper Youngsta concluded the event with an intimate, energetic performance and took plenty of selfies with the crowd! At the conclusion of the event, Constable Ruka of the South African Police Services and Mr. Elliot Adonis from the Department of Community Safety passed out metals to all the participants and presented trophies to the winning teams.  Although all the youth who participated took home medals, the maroon team got to take home the biggest trophy of the day for coming in first place.

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SAPS Constable Ruka passing out trophies to the captain of the second place team 

We want to give a big thank you to all the stakeholders in attendance, with special thanks to our guest speaker Mr. Elliot from the Department of Community Safety and to Youngsta for an amazing performance. Congratulations to all the teams for your hard work and good sportsmanship! To see more pictures from the “These Hands Don’t Hurt” tournament, click here.

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Khayelitsha Stakeholders Roundtable Discussion on Violence against Foreign Nationals

 

On the 14th of March 2017, Africa Unite in partnership with the South African Spaza Shops Co- operative (SASCOP) and Somali Association of South Africa (SASA) held a roundtable discussion with different stakeholders in Khayelitsha’s Site C community. The discussion came as result of the recent surge of violence targeted at foreign nationals in Site C, which left 12 Somali shopkeepers dead between January and March 2017.

Mr. Bongali Valkele, Chairperson of the South African Spaza Shops Co-Operative, welcoming the stakeholders to the roundtable

Among the different stakeholders, the following bodies were also present: Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF), SANCO, Community Police Forum (CPF), United African Forum, local Pastors, Freedom House, Solomon Tshuku Advice Center, Youth Network Ambassadors of Change, local Somali business owners and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

During the discussion, the causes of violence against foreign nationals that were identified included:

 

✓  Lack of education and information among the communities about foreign nationals

✓  Stereotyping of foreign nationals (selling drugs, taking opportunities from local people and other criminal activities)

✓  Influx of foreign owned shops in townships which makes some of the local traders loose income

✓  Young people used by adults to attack foreign nationals for the benefit of local shop owners

Abdikadir Mohamed with the Somali Association of South Africa

Abdikadir Mohamed speaking about understanding the many reasons migrants and foreign nationals come to South Africa

✓  In some instances, it is foreign nationals themselves attacking each other for business

✓  Most foreign nationals do not participate in any community activities; often they isolate themselves, making them easy targets

✓  Unemployment and poverty is too high in townships and some young people see foreign nationals as a milk cow. Therefore, robbing them is appealing to those in a desperate situation

✓ A general culture of violence is prevalent

✓  Most foreign national shop owners do not have bank accounts which exposes them as easy targets

To avoid this roundtable discussion ending up as a talk show, all the stakeholders present made the following recommendations:

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United African Forum representative contributing to the roundtable

  • An orientation system must be initiated for foreign nationals living in Site C for them to learn the local customs and cultures to avoid cultural differences
  • Local (SASCOP) and foreign spaza shop owners should identify some common projects to create a platform for skills sharing among themselves
  • The local Pastors through their Forum in Khayelitsha should initiate and promote teachings on tolerance within their congregations
  • It was suggested to re-examine the xenophobic attacks of 2008 to see if there are any lessons that can be learned from it
  • More human rights awareness education programmes about migrants, refugees and asylum seekers need to be initiated in the area on all levels (youth structures, traditional leaders, women’s groups, schools, etc.)
  • The good stories of foreign nationals who have worked successfully with the local communities should be shared to demystify some of the stereotypes that all foreigners are criminals and drug dealers.
  • Canvasing the community in Site C with surveys to further involve them in identifying the real causes of these attacks which left 12 Somali traders dead in a space of two months
  • Crime and substance abuse was identified among others as one of the causes of the attacks against foreign nationals, however the stakeholders noted that, Khayelitsha, big as it is does not have any rehabilitation center. This matter needs to be raised with the City of Cape Town.
  • It was suggested that a follow up dialogue should be held in Site C which will include the following stakeholders: Department of Small Business, the South African Police Service (SAPS) and local counsellors

We are grateful to all the stakeholders in attendance for their contributions and their offers to use their clout and individual connections to make further meetings and follow ups a success.

For more pictures, click here.

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