Appeal on behalf of a homeless Congolese Refugee Woman

On April 13th 2020 the Africa Unite team was made aware of a dire situation involving a pregnant refugee woman who along with her two-year-old son and husband were in desperate need of accommodation.


Rosy, the woman in question has been living together with her husband and their two-year-old son in the streets next to the Methodist Church Cape Town alongside many other refugees. Recently, the refugees have been relocated to the Police Station.

Rosy gave birth to a baby boy at Somerset Hospital on the 5th of April 2020. The family was informed that they must find a place to stay by the 16th of April 2020 otherwise a social worker will take their new-born child.

The main issue is that the family does not have enough money and resources to
find accommodation, buy baby clothes and food for their little ones. Our team has attempted to find shelter, but unfortunately without any success. Many shelters in Cape Town are either full or are not taking in new people due to COVID-19.

Time is running out and our hands are tied. We are doing everything in our power to prevent the baby from being
taken away from his mother, however, to achieve this we require assistance.

Both the family and our team would be utmost grateful if you could consider assisting us in any way possible.
Thank you in advance for your consideration.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact
me on (+27) 76 460 4331 | nthati@africaunite.org.za
PayPal Account: https://www.africaunite.org.za/donation/

Posted in News, Presss release, Uncategorized, Updates | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Africa Unite’s Plan in times of COVID-19

Press Release                                                                                                                                            For Immediate Release

South Africa is the country in sub-Saharan Africa most affected by the COVID-19 virus with 150 cases currently identified (March 19th). No deaths have yet been recorded but according to international statistics it is only a matter of time for the first death to be confirmed.

On Sunday, March 15th, President Ramaphosa gave a national address regarding COVID-19. He explained the measures South Africa will take to prevent further spread of COVID-19. The most pressing changes are the closure of schools and universities from March 18th – April 14th, implementing travel-bans from high risk countries and prohibiting events and gatherings with more than 100 people.

In response to the President’s address, Africa Unite has decided to implement the following: For the closure period of schools, Africa Unite is putting its School Club Programme on temporary hold. This includes postponing the annual Leadership Camp that was scheduled for March 20-24. All events and meetings, including human rights sessions will be either postponed or limited to 15-20 people until further notice. Most of our international interns will have to return to their home countries within the next couple of days but we will adjust interactions to online platforms wherever possible. Africa Unite is committed to lobbying with other organizations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Africa Unite continues to advocate for foreign nationals and the protection of their human rights, including their right to health and safety. Refugees, asylum seekers, and other immigrants need to be protected in addition to South African citizens. Home Affairs experiences long queues with people camping outside all night to get a chance to enter. It is not safe to force people to travel long distances with public transport during these times. In regard to the spread of COVID-19 those who are traveling domestically for papers should be able to go to their nearest home affairs offices instead of where they first got registered.

Furthermore, we are promoting the following habits to prevent the spread of coronavirus:

  • Social distancing (spend less time in public spaces with lots of people including restaurants, malls, etc)
  • Greet people with a “foot-five” or elbow tap
  • Carry hand sanitizer
  • Wash hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds
  • Eat more vitamin c fruits or take multi-vitamins if you can
  • Keep windows open for fresh air
  • Cough and sneeze into elbow
  • Minimize physical contact

Health is a human right. We are in solidarity with the President’s address and doing everything in our power to promote preventative measures. Please join us in taking action to put an end to COVID-19. As President Ramaphosa said, “It is true that we are facing a grave emergency. But if we act together, if we act now, and if we act decisively, we will overcome it.”

Date of release: 20 March 2019

For more information please contact Bongeka Gumede on bongeka@africaunite.org.za

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Africa Unite Youth Human Rights Training for Social Cohesion 2020

“A weekend moulding the future of a continent”

It’s a new year and a new wave of human rights champions and promoters have committed themselves to be Youth Human Rights Peer Educators to further promote a peaceful and harmonious Africa.

Camp pictures 2020

Youth leaders from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Germany

On the 13th to 15th March 2020, Africa Unite held its annual Youth Human Rights Peer Educators Training Weekend. The training was held at the beautiful resort of Goedegedacht Farm in Malmesbury which is located 87km from Cape Town, South Africa.

This year the training included a diverse group of youth from across the African continent, from a group of 25 young people (21 Western Cape, 2 Eastern Cape and 2 Africa Exchange program – 1 Tanzania and 1 Mozambique). From the 23 South African participants, 6 were originally from outside of the country (Germany, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Democratic Republic of the Congo) which adds to the diverse group of cultures, languages and experiences to the weekend and training. The purpose of the training is to capacitate young people from different backgrounds with knowledge and necessary skills in Human Rights in order for them to become Youth Human Rights Peer Educators in their respective communities and countries.

During this 3-day training, the facilitators covered the following content:

  • 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 and countries.

 camp

Participants listening attentively to the facilitator

During the training, the youth were divided in 4 countries namely, (1) Zimbabwe, (2) Ethiopia, (3) Cameroon and (4) South Africa. Most of their group work was done according to the above country groups. One of the highlights of the weekend training was the mock African Union assemblies where each country group was invited to make a presentation under the following indicators: (1) a brief history about the country, (2) current political issues, (3) socio-economic and cultural dynamics, (4) The resources of the Country and (5) In case they win, how each country intends to use the $100 billion donation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

camp 3

After different presentations were done by the President of each country, South Africa took the prize due to their highly creative presentation, teamwork and well informed on the country they represented.

To mimic the traditional winning procedure, the group members were issued a mock cheque of $100 billion as well as a suitcase containing the funds for aid to their country. Nonetheless, the purpose of this activity was not just to highlight the importance of teamwork, but rather to also allow our youth to research and understand the political and socio-economic background of each African country. A background which we stress all Africans to familiarise themselves with.

camp4

African Union assembly with Secretary General of the AU Joshua Plaat.

Furthermore, during this 3-days, the facilitators used simulation activities and role playing which made the youth reflect on their attitudes and behaviour on how they interact with others. The youth participants were highly motivated on how they can go back to their respective communities/countries and disseminate the knowledge they have acquired during the training in their own families, communities, churches, mosques, youth groups and other appropriate places.

Although the youth were from different backgrounds, they were excited about the levels of interaction, content of the training and the skills which were gained throughout the weekend.

To conclude the  training session, the participants were handed over the certificates of completion and the Human rights training manual.

Overall, the youth made a clear commitment to go back to their respective communities and countries to conduct similar information sessions.

Here are some comments made by the young leaders:

“Thank you to you and the wonderful team of facilitators for the workshop and manner in which it was presented. It’s been such a positive and eye-opening experience.” – Mazeeda Karani (South Africa)

“I learned so much about Human rights, more than I ever realised I was entitled to, I can now see what is lacking in my own community in regard to information and implementation which is something I will definitely take back home.” Dalali Venge (Tanzania)

“The training I received this weekend was mind opening and added so much to my self-development. Learning the difference between civil, political and socioeconomic rights and then how to practice them. Practicing empathy and listening to understand combined with knowledge can make one an instrument of change.” – Anestasia Jansen (South Africa)

“Africa Unite has really changed the way I see facilitation; Mr Vincent Williams has shown me a more interactive way to share information and teach people skills.” – Jose’ Muianga (Mozambique)

“Mr Williams and the Africa Unite team has really challenged me to think outside of the conventional box, to constantly challenge perceptions for the betterment of mankind but also to innovate new ways of doing things.”  Mbasa Viwe Mtshanele – (South Africa)

“This weekend has shown me that semantics in regard to law making is very important and that everything is not always as it seems, that we should constantly challenge the status quo and rules.” – Pejamauro Visagie

 

For more pictures, please follow this link:

Peer educator camp 2020 Facebook album

Posted in Dialogue, Events, News, Report, Staff, Training, Uncategorized, Updates, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Africa Unite Migration Game Development Session

South Africa is a host country for many migrants from other African countries and most of the immigrants in the country have fled their countries of origin due to multiple reasons (war, dictatorship, famine, violence) with the hope that they find this country a more clement land.

Migration Pic 4

School club pupils playing the migration game

Nonetheless, in the past couple of years, with the influx of migrants growing, there has been a brew of animosities between the locals and foreign nationals in South Africa.  Migrants have been confronted with a ray of discrimination and violent acts such as xenophobic or Afrophobic attacks from the local South Africans.

Post-apartheid schools in South Africa have an explicit mandate to redress past discrimination and are the most strategic sites of implementation of the government strategy to foster nation-building and social cohesion. The reluctance of colleagues and parents of the learners to engage in these difficult topics often adds fuel to local violence. Schools rarely provide the necessary platform for learners to engage on xenophobia and other discrimination topics.

Considering this background, we need to assess how learners, teachers and the broader community can engage with the topic of migration. Therefore, as a response to this question and to assist with combating xenophobia, Africa Unite has developed a migration game where participants of the game step into the shoes of a migrant to be acquainted with the experiences and challenges of people moving into South Africa face, as well as the different reasons why people migrate. This game aims to theoretically and practically educate young people on critically understanding sensitive issues that South Africa and Africa as a whole is faced with. It is a great opportunity and valuable, educative lesson which will help breaking down stereotypes and xenophobic sentiments.

Henceforth, on the 29th of February, we held a migration game session at Africa Unite office in Cape Town with 17 of our School Club leaners and 4 learners from Salt River High School and 3 from Gardens High School; partners of Africa Unite who have participated in our Social cohesion programs including the Anti-Xenophobia School Summit.

A total of 24 young learners participated in this session (20 females and 4 Males). During the session, the learners were able to express their opinions on various issues related to migration, (refugee integration, xenophobia, the post-apartheid period and its consequences in society, etc.)

The session started off with an icebreaker which also allowed the learners to introduce to each other and start engaging regardless of their different schools. Thereafter the game initiated with all teams being consisting of locals and foreign nationals. Our two facilitators started by explaining the game and its purposes to the two teams.

Migration Pic 2

After a series of debates and complaints from learners whose characters were consistently being sent to Lindela (where foreign nationals are placed before rerouting to their countries due to not having the correct documents) the winners with the correct documents finally made it to South Africa and received the adequate asylum seeker or refugee status.

Overall, the engagements throughout the game were fruitful as many migration testimonies were shared and all learners were thoroughly educated on migration and one’s journey migrating from one country to another.

Although the game had finished, and a winner crowned, the learners continued discussing issues which shed light during the session, these ranged from:

1.Opening of borders in Africa? 

Learners mostly agreed that Africa should be more like Europe, regarding how people can travel freely from country to country. While also addressing the contradiction how borders are essentially decided by European colonisers during the scramble for Africa.

Migration Pic 3

2.Whether or not South Africa is welcoming?

  • A foreign national learner expressed that the South African government is welcoming, but South Africans are not.
  • Learners acknowledged how political leader’s xenophobic comments trigger xenophobic attacks in various places in the country.
  • Learners stressed how xenophobia was a class issue,
  • Lastly, a learner raised an interested point which should be debated further, she expressed” Why are foreign nationals in South Africa being forced to assimilate instead of being accepted for who they are and their various cultures and ethnicities?

Moreover, towards the end of the session, the learners were separated into two groups: one group represented the South African government and the other one represented migrants and refugees. The learners were instructed to express themselves on what should be changed in South African society.

Migration Pic 1 One of the Schools club pupils presenting which changes South Africa should make in its migration policies

Here are some suggestions from the students: 

  • South African government must respect its migration laws
  • The government should integrate refugees into society and should also raise awareness about migration among the local population to avoid xenophobic attacks.
  • The government needs to put in place ways for people to live together, to make certain places which are essentially of the upper class more accessible to everyone.
  • More job opportunities for the migrants in South Africa is essential.
  • Political Leaders need to be regulated on the information they share as leadership.

Consequently, the day was very constructive and fruitful for the learners and for the facilitators. We are looking forward to hosting more sessions throughout 2020.

We would like to thank all the school’s officials for their continuous support in exposing learners to various learning platforms and our peer educator and creator of the game; Leo Fortaillier for creating such an educative board game.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Africa Unite Peer Educators Meeting: A Reflection of Human Rights Work in 2019

On the 8th of February 2020, Africa Unite hosted a meeting for the 2019 Human Rights Peer Educators where 17 peers were in attendance. The meeting took place at Joie de vivre farmhouse in Klapmuts which is 50 kms outside of Cape Town.


The meeting started off with a reflection on the year 2019 in general and a feedback session on the activities each peer educator has carried out in 2019.
Amongst many topics discussed on the day, the following stood out to the peer educators:


• Change in Presidency with Jacob Zuma being replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa as president of the Republic of South Africa
• Elections disturbance with xenophobia
• The dramatic shift in climate has caused a plethora of catastrophes ranging from the cyclones off the coast of Mozambique and droughts in East Africa, causing a mass migration of refugees to South Africa
• The responsibility of politicians on Xenophobic attacks
• Gender-Based Violence
• The lack and need of Infrastructure especially with reference to rural communities
• Crime and violence in the Western Cape
• Education focusing on primary and secondary schools
• The rising and persistent Crime rates in Manenberg
• Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha need for the youth to be exposed to places outside their immediate areas in order to help change their mind-set to a more positive outlook in life
• Social grants undesirable usage in South Africa
• Township Interventions for social cohesion
• Economic and social development in the form of subsidies
• Social entrepreneurship grants and mentorship for the youth and dialogue for social cohesion

Peer educators discussing the sociopolitical context of 2019


Following the discussion, 4 identified peer educators who have been highly active in the year 2019 gave presentations on the work and the intervention they have done throughout the year. They also highlighted the challenges they faced during their interventions.


Their interventions were mainly information sessions, marches, workshops and dialogues centred around common issues ailing their respective communities such as: (1) Gender Based Violence, (2) Human Rights Law (3) Protest for Policy Change (4) Rights of Migrant/Refugee Children, (5) Dynamite Castle Foundation on assisting learners build their self-confidence and self-esteem, (6) march to spread awareness on gang-violence, (7) Tutoring learners English, (8) Mentoring fatherless children etc.
Through their community work and dedication, the peer educators received awards and opportunities outside of Africa Unite and below are some of the highlighted rewards/opportunities they have received:

  1. One of the peer educators received an award of “Fight for Peace” for her commitment to peace building in 2019.
  2. Another had an opportunity to travel to Mozambique to take part in a climate change research project
    • He also attended the xenophobic attack forum in the South African National Parliament
    • Received an internship placement in Slovakia for a 12-month human rights programme.

One of the peers had an opportunity to travel to Botswana and worked with women/children focusing on the law and their human rights

undefined undefined


To close the day, the Best Peer Educator of the year 2019 (Mr. Avuzwa Ngubo) was announced for his outstanding work and dedication throughout the year. He received a certificate and R1000 voucher as a token of appreciation. Besides sharing of experiences, challenges and learning from each other, the aim of the meeting and selecting the best peer educator was to inspire and motivate those that are less active to do more work in their communities in the years to come so that we can collectively achieve the objective of the programme.


The peer educators were left encouraged and more than ready to go back to their communities and intervene on the issues facing them on a daily basis. They commented that the meeting was fruitful and it has sparked new ideas that they will use in their respective communities when they run workshops, information sessions and dialogues.


For more information, please contact Nthati on nthati@africaunite.org.za | (+27) 076 460 4331

Posted in Dialogue, Events, News, Presss release, Report, Staff, Training, Uncategorized, Updates, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

South African Refugee Amendment Act and its Impact

On the 29th January 2020, Africa Unite (AU) in partnership with Legal Resources Centre (LRC) hosted a Refugee Amendment Act Dialogue with 41 participants. Majority of the participants were asylum seekers and refugee leaders, the information session took place at 6 Spin Street, Cape Town.

From the 1st January 2020, the refugee amendment act was officially brought into operation. The amendment brought serious fear and concern among refugees, asylum seekers and civil society.  Some of the civil society mentioned that the changes seem like they have been drafted by Trump administration and taking us back. Furthermore, this amendment comes at a time where refugees and asylum seeker’s systems are in crisis. From November 2019 up to now, there is a group of refugees and asylum seekers camping outside the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) offices in Pretoria and Cape Town.  Most of them want to leave South Africa, even others are prepared to walk by foot to Namibia.

During her presentation, Sherylle Dass: Regional Director of Legal Resources Centre had an opportunity to show at length the areas of grave concern regarding the amendment act. Below are some of the concerns:

  • Asylum seekers and Refugees are not allowed to be involved in politics in South Africa and their country of origin.
  • They are not allowed to request any document from their country of origin’s embassy.
  • On arrival to South Africa, they are obliged to show asylum transit visa issued at a port of entry or under permitted circumstances, a valid visa otherwise they may be sent back against the international principle of “non- refoulement”, if Home Affairs is not satisfied with their reasons for entering the country illegally.
  • Prior to issuing any right to seek employment to any asylum seeker, an assessment of whether an asylum seeker can sustain himself or herself and any dependents must be done.
  • In the event that the right to seek employment or study is endorsed on the asylum seeker visa, the relevant employer must furnish the Department of Home Affairs with a letter of employment or of enrollment at the educational institution in the prescribed form within a period of 14 days from the date of the asylum seeker taking up employment or being enrolled.
  • After they have qualified for a refugee status, they must reside in the country for 10 Years before they are considered for permanent residency permit.
  • If they do not renew their papers on time within 30 days from the date it expired, their asylum applications will be deemed to be abandoned and they will be excluded from applying for asylum

                                            Sherylle speaking to the audience

Her presentation raised eyebrows amongst the audience. Majority of the leaders present asked a lot of questions regarding the implications of this amendment on the livelihood of the refugees and asylum seekers living in South Africa. They also requested for Legal Resources Centre to open a case against Government in order to challenge these amendments. However, Sherylle replied that although there are many grounds to do that, most of the amendments will be dependent on how Home Affairs will implement these provisions. In this case the LRC will have to assess individual cases and may challenge the implementation of these amendments by presenting the best evidence before the courts on the practical implications of these amendments.

                                   pic 3 Refugee amendment act                                 One of the participants asking questions

As Africa Unite, from now onwards, we will start to collect the individual cases of the people affected by this law so that those cases can be taken to Legal Resources Centre for Legal Representation against the Amendment Act as most of the amendments are undermining human dignity.

All the participants were thankful to Africa Unite and Legal Resources Centre for hosting this information session as they were able to hear directly from the horse’s mouth.

In addition, Africa Unite together with Legal Resource Centre has agreed to host more of these information sessions in different communities (townships) to raise awareness as more asylum seekers and refugees will be affected by this regulation.

For more information please contact Nthati on 076 460 4331|nthati@africaunite.org.za

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

4th Annual Africa Unite School Club Red Carpet Awards

On Saturday the 30th of November 2019, Africa Unite held its 4th Annual School Club Red Carpet Awards at the Banqueting Hall in Civic Centre Cape Town. The Award Ceremony attracted more than 300 people including learners, parents, teachers, civil society organizations and local authorities.

Crowd listening to the learners as they present
about their activities

The purpose of the award ceremony was to acknowledge the work of the school club learners by giving them a platform to showcase what they have done throughout the year as young change makers and future leaders for their courage, leadership, resilience and motivate them to continue the good work they do! In 2013, in response to an identified and noticeable lack of youth leadership and community involvement, Africa Unite initiated the School Club Programme under the slogan “My school is My Community”.  The program is designed to shift the mindset of the learners, from being nonchalant about their status of living and the injustices which suppress them to being active change agents who see a better future in their school and communities. Therefore, the program further grooming the young leaders to take pride in their school and assume responsibility for their community development.

It is a replica of the government function, the schools involved have the opportunity to elect their own cabinet leaders, with three main themes – School, Environment and Community. Each cabinet is comprised by a president and his/her 5 ministers (president, minister of environment and health, minister of finance, minister of social development, minister of information and public relations and minister of sports, culture and entertainment). Those 6 are assisted by 30 parliamentarians who are responsible for holding them accountable. We take pride in how the School Club has grown this year. We have now established 13 School Clubs Nationally, 7 Western Cape, 4 KwaZulu Natal and 2 Gauteng.

Singamakhalipha Children’s Program waiting
to perform (dance & music) for annual red carpet awards ceremony

During this event, not only Western Cape representatives were present, we also had two school club representatives who one is from Johannesburg and the other from KwaZulu Natal. In response to the social ills phased in each school and community, the different school clubs undertook various activities such as the Environmental and Gender-Based Violence March, Food and Clothing for the Orphanage, Cancer Awareness Campaign, Continuation of successful feeding scheme, Crime awareness campaign with the community, Lobby for book donation on Mandela Day, Educational excursion to parliament, Clothing Drive for the homeless, Anti-Xenophobia Campaign, Raising awareness on women abuse, Mental health awareness, Staging a silent protest against xenophobia and violence against women, Elders pampering day and Lobbying for textbooks.

The second speaker was the National Deputy Minister of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform Hon. Mcebisi Skwatsha who acknowledged the work of Africa Unite and how it fits to their department as they have a mandate to work in rural areas. He further reminded the audience on the importance and power the work done by young people holds in liberating South Africa and Africa as a whole. Nelson Mandela himself was under 30 when he started his movement.   

Chief Executive Officer of SAHRC
Guest speaker of the Awards Ceremony

During the performance, young performers from the Africa Unite Singamalika (young warriors) program sang, danced and recited poems. In one of the poems, the young boy spoke on what they go through as young black boys in South Africa seeing the so-called heroes “Dads” beat up women/their mothers to nurse their egos. The second poem was narrated by a young girl who took us on a journey of a young girl who has been mocked and played by those she thought loved her. It was indeed a great performance to watch from the 10-14 aged group of young warriors.

The most important part of the evening was the award ceremony which was given to different categories as follows:

  • Best school club sponsored by Zahid Badroodien
  • Best President sponsored by Dr. Spiwo Xapile
  • Best Parliamentarian sponsored by Government Communication & Information System (GCIS)
  • Best Minister of Health and Environment Sponsored by Bruce Baigrie Climate Change Activist
  • Best Minister of Finance sponsored by BSI
  • Best Minister of Sports and entertainment sponsored by Cape Town Museum
  • Best Minister of Social Development sponsored by Government Communication & Information System (GCIS)
  • Best Minister of Information and communication sponsored by Government Communication & Information System (GCIS)
  • Best Minister of Education sponsored by Government Communication & Information System (GCIS)
  • Best Patron and Matron sponsored by Africa unite
  • Best Minister of Defense and security  sponsored by Government Communication & Information System (GCIS)
  • Most improved School Club sponsored by Africa unite
  • Most diverse School Club sponsored by Africa unite
  • Best networking School Club sponsored by Africa unite
  • Best Stakeholder sponsored by Africa unite
  • Grade 11 certificates (16 kids) Sponsored by Thabo Modise    
  • Best Acts of kindness School Club sponsored by Africa Unite
  • Most innovative School Club sponsored by Solidarity Campaign
  • Best Public Education and Outreach School Club sponsored by Western Cape Provincial Parliament
  • Best Good Governance School Club sponsored by Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) 
  • Best Outstanding Leader sponsored by Coach Matika
  • Best School Club that raised more awareness on Xenophobia sponsored by  Father Rampe Hlobo (Jesuits South Africa) 
  • Best Peer Educator Outreach Program sponsored by Africa Unite
National Deputy Minister of Rural Development & Land Reform in the middle Hon. Mcebisi Swatsha (wearing maroon trousers and white shirt) together with the Africa Unite School Club Leaders)

The award ceremony was a great success and Africa Unite would like to thank the City of Cape Town for providing the venue and further support from Wakefield Rotary Club, DKA, CCFD, friends of Africa Unite Marita and O’Malley Family. Without their support, this event could not have materialised.

For more pictures please follow the link: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10156404028946372&id=94409681371

 

 

Posted in Annual Red Carpet Awards, News, Updates | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER MOVES MOUNTAINS.

Heritage Day Hike

Heritage Day is a holiday celebrated in South Africa on the 28th September to celebrate the rich history, culture and diversity in the country. The aim of the day is to unite and motivate the citizens of South Africa to remember their roots and embrace their heritage. 

Africa Unite celebrated this auspicious occasion with the Africa Unite School Club (CPT) by hosting a Heritage Day hike which started from Newlands forest to Rhodes memorial in Rondebosch, Cape Town.  On the day we had 42 learners from Masibambane Secondary School, Heideveld High School, Dr. Nelson Mandela High School and Hector Petersen High School, who were accompanied by 10 Africa Unite team members and volunteers. We had the assistance of Andile Nqoko from South African Education Project (SAEP) who advised on the best routes to go through and lead the hike for us on the day.

The purpose of the hike was to enable the learners to gain exposure to the different sites in Cape Town and to enjoy the beauty of the city that they were not often exposed or provided the opportunity to. A hike was chosen, as hiking tests an individual’s strength and self-persistence, while simultaneously enabling them a moment to meditate on their perspective of the world and themselves. Many of the learners had never been on a hike before and they did not know what to expect or how to come accurately prepared, this was seen through the attire some the learners came to hike in such as jeans and skirts.

AUSC 2019 at Newlands Forest

Newlands Forest is a conservancy area on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, beside the suburb of Newlands, Cape Town. It is owned and maintained by the Table Mountain National Parks Board, along with the City Parks Department of Cape Town. The route we chose to take was from Newlands forest, up to blockhouse and down to Rhodes memorial. The hike took approximately 4 hours due to the short breaks we had to take in between to allow the learners to catch their breath, take pictures and enjoy the scenery.

The hike was a challenge mentally and physically for many of the learners, due to their lack of consistent exercise and experience in hiking. In fact, many of the learners were struggling to continue moving forward, and were constantly inferring about how much longer it would take to get to the top. A few learners were struggling a bit more than others but with the moral support of their peers and the marshals motivating them to push forward, every learner managed to make it to the top at Blockhouse and to the end of the hike at Rhodes memorial.

AUSC member with new AUSC friend, Ruby.

The most memorable moments during the hike started in the taxi on the way to the hiking spot where the learners were harmoniously singing together in unison. It was incredible to witness how talented the school club learners are and how beautiful they were able to sing together. Additionally, regardless of how tired the learners were during the hike, once they got to the top they were all really excited to see the views of the city and also to see how far they had hiked up. They all spread around and started taking multiple pictures together and many even tried going further up despite how tired they appeared before arriving to the top. It was a pleasure to see how difficult it was for the marshals to get the learners to agree to go back down due to their desire to stay longer and enjoy the view and taking pictures of themselves and the scenery.

The feedback we got from the learners was very positive, despite the length on the hike and at times the difficulty of the route, learners commented that they enjoyed the hike and wanted hiking to be a consistent activity in the program. They stated that it was great exposure as they had never been to Newlands forest before and it was a great experience for team building.

AUSC 2019 Leaners hiking to the Block House.

Recommendations

  • Make hiking a monthly or perhaps bi-monthly event with the kids.
  • Future hiking trips should be shorter in length and match the level of fitness of the learners.
  • Learners need to be fully explained the way in which to prepare accurately for a hike, such as the right clothes to wear and the importance of bringing enough water.
  • AU should hold other team building activities outside of the office that permits the school club members to be outside as well as learning and experiencing new things.
  • The learners need to be constantly reminded to take advantage of their surroundings and enjoy the moment instead of focusing on the end destination.
Heritage Day Hike with AUSC and AU volunteers.

Thank you to the schools and parents who allowed our club members to join us on the hike, as well as to Andile Nqoko lead the hike.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Global Climate Change Strike pioneered by the Youth!!

On the 21st of September 2019, Africa Unite participated in a global strike on Climate Change. The strike took place around the world, including participation from 15 our countries in the African continent with strike action from Nigeria, South Africa, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Mauritius, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Reunion, Madagascar, Namibia, Rwanda, Niger, Djibouti to even Kenya. This was the 3rd Global strike on climate change following the first strike which was inspired by a Swedish student who started striking solo each Friday in 2018. Since then there have been many marches and strikes, but none as big as this one. Vox declared that there were 2500 climate change events in over 150 countries. On the 20th of September, many marched to Cape Town parliament for the Climate Change strike, including the high school children from Africa Unite’s School Club program. The kids seemed to have enjoyed it for the most part and it was a great way to get the youth motivated to make a change within their community as there were discussions and artistic acts on the issue.

Western Cape Climate Change Protest.

In preparation for the climate change strike, our Africa Unite School Club’s partnered with hosted Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) to conduct sessions that aimed to inform AU’s high school students of the current environmental crisis. It covered topics such as those who are major contributors to global warming, the impacts of global heating, what global heating is, the injustices of climate change and what the youth can do to disrupt this current climate catastrophe. The students responded positively to the sessions and many felt empowered to place their energy in bringing the change they wish to in their future.

The purpose of the sessions was to work with teenagers from diversified schools to capacitate the youth on becoming leaders in the movement against climate change. Climate change affects the most vulnerable, and the youth living in the townships whose voices are often marginalised need to be heard regarding the topic. The solution needs to eliminate the inequalities that affect the most vulnerable.  Therefore, creating a space for participation from students in these areas will increase the diversity of the movement, meaning the solution will be more inclusive and acknowledging.

After the release of the 2018 Inter Governmental Panel of Climate Change, a report from the leading climate scientists stated that we only have 11 years to make urgent changes to the current way we participate in a society that is not considerate of the enviroment. If we continue at this rate, burning fossil fuels, the world is on its way to a disastrous increase of temperature at 3 degrees Celsius. According to the Climate Home News the reports summary is as follows:

  1. “The world has already warmed by 1 degree Celsius since pre-industrial times due to human activity. On current trends, it is likely to pass the 1.5 mark between 2030 and 2052. Earth is warming faster than the oceans and the Arctic is warming at 2–3 times the global average rate.
  2. There is a time lag between greenhouse gas emissions and their effect on the climate. This means the world is warming and the sea level is rising.
  3. We will only see more heatwaves, drought and flooding.
  4. Sea levels are expected to rise 10cm higher this century. This exposes an extra 10 million people to climate change effects like coastal flooding which causes saltwater to contaminate drinking water supplies.
  5. Those who will be most affected are unfortunately not part of the major greenhouse gas emitters. Meaning global heating creates injustice as those unable to resourcefully deal with the impacts are ones who experience the most damage.
  6. The global heating also expands the range of disease carrying mosquitoes which means more people could potentially get infected by malaria.

The anticipated catastrophe of climate is a threat to all vulnerable communities as there will be more climate-change refugees, scarce resources, food insecurity, droughts and increased natural disasters.

Recommendations:

Just a few years back, Cape Town experienced one of its most severe droughts. An inequality of resources we further embedded as only those were money could afford Jo Jo tanks and could put in the infrastructure to deal with the water crisis. Not engaging with the pending climate emergency would be neglectful to human rights. Therefore, recommendations are:

  • To empower the youth with continued education and opportunities to engage with the topic of Climate Change.
  • To support students in supporting sustainable solutions in their schools and communities such as initiatives where more Jo Jo tanks, solar panels, trees and community gardens are installed.  
  • To get the youth more involved in activism that addresses the Climate Change issue as well as raise awareness around the severity of it and the injustices of Climate Change.
Some of the AUSC learners after the protest at South Africa National Parliament.

We would like to thank AIDC’s for the multiple lectures they delivered to our AUSC’s and we are hoping to see various climate change awareness campaigns from our learners.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Women’s Month Turns into a Time of Mourning

Press Release                                                                                                                                            For Immediate Release

On the 9th of August every year, South Africa commemorates the thousands of fearless women who marched in protest to the Union buildings in 1956. Historically, South Africa has designated the month of August to honouring all women who fought against the Apartheid regime. Over the years this month signifies the role of women in the struggle for freedom and society at large. Sadly, this month has been far from what it’s supposed to signify – “the fight for freedom by and for women.”

Minister of Women, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane stated that this August 30 women alone have died at the hands of their partners. Following all the violence against women, there has been an outcry over the devastatingly high levels of femicide. It is unclear whether the government really considers this a grave concern due to their long period of silence surrounding the public outcry. Nkoana-Mashabane said that the current violence against women reflected a society where there is a lack of respect, on part of men when it comes to treating women as equals.  Gender activists have asked the State to declare a state of emergency.

The widespread anger started with Meghan Cremer, 30 years old, who went missing on the 3rd of August when she left her place and was later found dumped in a sand mine with a rope around her neck. Following her death social media became active grounds for women to come forward, unite and speak of their experiences regarding gender-based violence. A Facebook group was created “SA Women Fight Back” which currently has 139 855 members. After the murder and rape of University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrhwetyana who went missing more than a week ago and was bludgeoned to death with a scale in Claremont’s post office, citizens have called for renewed calls of stricter action to be taken against perpetrators.

Other victims who got a lot of news coverage were Jesse Hess, 19 year old who was killed and raped alongside her grandfather in their home, Leighandre Jegels, 25 year old boxer who was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend, Janika Mallo, 14 years old, who was raped and found with her head bashed in her grandmother’s backyard, Lynette Volschenk, 32 years old, murdered and found with her body dismembered and Ayakha Jiyane, who was 16 years old and hanged from a tree allegedly by her stepfather. Her three younger siblings were also hanged that day.

The first week of September has been nothing but depressing. Thousands and thousands of women and men marched to Parliament on 4th and 5th of September 2019 to protest and raise awareness to government of the severe levels of gender-based violence South Africa has been facing. Activists are no longer tolerating the current state of affairs. The Commissioner for Gender Equality, Mbuyiselo Botha, emphasised that men need to be careful of the language they use around issues of women’s abuse. He stated, “The men must talk to other men, it is the men who will say ‘I will not socialise with you and I will not be part of your sexist jokes’.” This is necessary considering that the burden of gender-based violence has often been placed on the women victims and not the perpetrators. We as the youth of Africa Unite do not tolerate any form of violence, yet alone violence against women and children and believe that men need to be held more accountable for violating the rights of women in South Africa.

As an organization centered on raising awareness in communities on human rights as well as advocating for youth empowerment, our Africa Unite School Club Learners and Youth Human Rights Peer Educators in Western Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng have been actively taking a stand against the ongoing Gender Based Violence in South Africa. They have launched various Anti-Gender Based Violence Campaigns.  

Moreover, we demand that action is taken beyond President Ramaphosa merely adding his voice to what public outcries have been. We have heard many voices raised on the death penalty however we as the youth believe that is not going to solve the issue. Society needs to be educated from an early age on how to treat women with respect and dignity.

We as a country must remember that this form of violence did not end in August and has been endemic to our society for many years. Starting off the first week of September, we have already witnessed reports of women being violently killed and raped. South Africa is considered to have the highest rate of sexual violence cases in the world. Therefore, we as a youth empowerment and human rights organisation urge our government to take this matter seriously.

Date of release: 11 September 2019

Nthati Lesaoana                                                                                                                                      Phone: 081 333 7665  | Email: nthati@africaunite.org.za

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment