The ACTION Support Centre Blog http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php Blog: Africa Regional Hub of a Global Network of Individuals and Organisations Committed to Positive ACTION to Transform Conflict en-us Farewell Anisa and Suzanne http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=108

ACTION enjoyed having Anisa and Suzanne from the University of Edinburgh with us for 2 months. They slotted into the team well and were active in contributing to many of the various projects that ACTION is involved in, as well as performing research for their studies. 

Anisa also assisted in the ASC work with SASOWNET. As a diaspora Somali with a fluent grasp of the language, she helped build relationships with both old and new members of SASOWNET, and acted as a liaison for the organization of meetings and events. Suzanne worked closely with Pretty, the ASC community liaison for Local Peace Committees. She spent a great deal of time visiting Alexandra, attending meetings and engaging in discussions to build on her research and contributing to the broader ASC programme in support of stronger local forms of organisation.

The research outputs that Anisa and Suzanne are expected to produce promise to be useful resources to inform future work with SASOWNET and the LPCs.

They describe their personal experiences below;

Suzanne: 

My time at ACTION was definitely exciting and eye opening. My work here at ACTION consisted or two main elements: the work at the ACTION office and my research in the Alexandra community. In the first weeks I was mostly busy with getting to know the organisation and the work being done at the ACTION office. In our first week we attended the Applied Conflict Transformation course and the two weeks after that we were very busy with the organisation of the African Solidarity Caravan events during Africa Week. Furthermore, I have been involved in using social media, writing reports and pieces for newsletters, as well as contributing to writing a grant application and making a promotion video for the Africa Solidarity Caravan. All in all, I believe I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about working within an NPO setting, and the staff at the ACTION office has kindly taken the time to introduce me to these things. 

Besides my work at ACTION, I have also been researching the Local Peace Committees in Alexandra that ACTION have supported in the past couple of years. In this aspect of my work I learned many things, both about the context of Alexandra, as well as about doing qualitative research. It was challenging for me at first to find a frame of research that would fit within the work of ACTION, fit within the university requirements as well as benefit the community. However, the people in Alexandra were extremely helpful, and kindly took the time to tell me their histories and opinions on conflict and opportunities for Local Peace Committees in the community of Alexandra. It has been interesting and inspiring to listen to the stories of the challenges encountered in Alex, but mainly to listen to the stories about ways that people have found to overcome those challenges. In short, my time here in South Africa has been very valuable, and I am looking forward to incorporating the newly gained insights into my dissertation and my future. A big thanks to ACTION and the people I talked to in Alexandra for giving me this opportunity!

Anisa:

As part of my MSc program at the University of Edinburgh I had to undertake a work-based placement project with a development organization. ACTION Support centre provided just such an opportunity for me. In my first week after arrival I was fortunate to start my placement by attending the Applied Conflict Transformation course, which is held by ACTION every three months. The course allowed me to gain a greater understanding of the values and the commitment ACTION has to conflict transformation in Africa and beyond. Thereafter I was based at the office where I was very warmly welcomed by a friendly, hard working team who made me feel part of the team right away. In addition, my placement coincided with the launch of the African Solidarity Caravan and Africa Day celebration, which was a deeply enriching experience. However, My placement at ACTION mainly consisted of conducting research to produce a piece of work which was both suitable for ACTION and met the requirement for my MSc thesis. In addition, ACTION give me the opportunity to do some office based work such as writing reports, newsletters and assisting in event planning.

When I was not at the office I was out and about in Mayfair doing research. I had the pleasure of working with the South African Somali Women’s Network, and the discussions I had with the ladies were very informative, and an eye-opening experience for me. They taught me a lot, not only with regard to my research but also personally. Amongst other things I was very impressed with their survival strategies in such a challenging environment. I very much appreciated all the help and support I received from the Somali women in Mayfair, which made the research project a pleasant process. My work with the Somali women in Mayfair has been an unforgettable experience; it’s one that will stay with me forever. I am grateful to ACTION for giving me this experience, and a special thanks to Richard and everyone at the office for making my stay easy and enjoyable. 

We will miss having them as part of our team, but wish them well as they return to Edinburgh to complete their studies.


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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:18:06 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=108
Burma Workshop: Protect the Rohingya http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=107 A plea for one of the most persecuted groups in the world 

On Thursday 12th June, Cosatu House in partnership with the Protect Rohingya organisation hosted a workshop on the persecution of the Rohingya people.  The workshop was facilitated by Advocate Shabnam Mayet and David P Karmes who have both been very influential in raising awareness about the plight of the world’s most persecuted ethnic minority, alongside the Free Burma Campaign, South Africa who have been building solidarity for many years. 

The workshop highlighted that the Rohingya people are an embattled ethnic group that have fallen victim to the Burmese Government’s ethnic cleansing campaign. While ethnic violence is not new to the Rohingya, the recent level of intensity and persecution has led the United Nations to label them one of the most persecuted groups in the world today.  

The workshop encouraged all individuals to contact their organizations, political affiliations, members of parliaments, ministers and officials to show solidarity and concern for the well being of the Rohingya people as well as sign petitions, donate, fundraise and raise awareness in order to prevent what seems to be nearing a genocide. 

The strong connections between the ACTION Support Centre and our sister organisation the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies in Cambodia, who are actively involved in support of the peace processes in Myanmar, and in working alongside several Burmese civil society groups, makes this initiative all the more relevant to the long term transformation agenda of the ACTION Support Centre.


Photo Credits: Photograph by UNHCR/ACNUR Américas licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:14:25 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=107
BRICS Policy Dialogue http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=106 BRICS Bank – Transforming the International Financial Landscape?

On the 19th of June 2014, Oxfam funded a meeting of the South Africa Network on Inequality (SANI), network of localy funded Oxfam partners, and the South Africa Forum for International Solidarity (SAFIS), an INGO supported formation that is trying to establish itself as a legitimate solidarity voice within South African civil society. 

The one-day policy dialogue on BRICS brought civil society organisations, academics, activists and individuals together to share insights on BRICS and also discuss some of the challenges that BRICS poses to the continent as a whole. The main focus of the discussion was to raise awareness amongst civil society organisations and individuals and to explore opportunities to engage with government to discuss the implications of the BRICS bank and other BRICS initiatives, including how BRICS intends to function in Africa, taking into considerations some of the challenges that the continent is facing.

In July 2014, a new multilateral and Southern-led development bank is expected to be launched by the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – better known as the BRICS. The BRICS Development Bank will provide a fresh source of finance for developing and emerging economies to meet their development needs. Little has been made public regarding the proposed Bank’s core mandate or activities but while governments negotiate the technicalities of the Bank, it is critical that they also provide a solid vision of the principles, priorities and objectives on which the Bank’s activities and operations will be premised. Some of the issues identified include commitments to ending extreme poverty and inequality, with a special focus on gender equity and women’s rights; aligning with environmental and social safeguards and establishing mechanisms for information sharing, accountability and redress, leadership on the sustainable development agenda, the creation of mechanisms for public consultation and debate, and the adoption of a truly democratic governance structure.

It was argued that the association of five major emerging national economies -  Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) - has a special responsibility towards helping the world achieve its goal of ending extreme poverty, reducing inequality and achieving sustainable development, as they collectively represent some of the world’s greatest challenges and achievements. But given the fact that these countries are competing for raw materials, markets and trade, it remains to be seen if they truly have the best interests of the continent at heart. Despite remarkable strides made in reducing poverty within India and China, BRICS countries still house nearly half of the world’s poor and – with the exception of Brazil – have experienced a rise in inequality in recent years. The creation of a BRICS Bank, and with it the promise of reforming the global development architecture, offers a real and concrete opportunity for governments of these countries to ensure development financing is sensitive to the needs of those who are poorest and most marginalized. If the BRICS Bank fights poverty and inequality it could be a big success. But if it focuses only on big-ticket schemes that fail to directly benefit poor people it could do more harm than good.

The opportunities to build stronger civil society partnerships with the BRICS initiative, and to input into and learn more from events like the BRICS Summit will be further explored by the ASC. These efforts should be led by Southern based civil society organisations and calls should be made to northern INGOs to allow space for these formations to find their own voice, avoiding the past mistakes of dominant well resourced groupings like Oxfam who have sometimes been accusedof speaking on behalf of people without any clear mandate or accountability mechanisms in place. 


Photo Credits: “BRICS Business Council” by GovernmentZA is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:12:13 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=106
The Swaziland Democracy Campaign http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=105 ACTION takes action for the release of political prisoners in Swaziland 

The SDC South Africa Chapter is engaged in a series of meetings and consultations with key activists and organisations in South Africa and across the region that seek to build sustained regional solidarity with the struggle for freedom by the people of Swaziland. 

This emerged from growing concerns about the state of freedom of expression, judicial independence, and rule of law in the Kingdom of Swaziland, including arbitrary arrests and detentions of human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko, independent journalist Bheki Makhubu, and several political activists such as PUDEMO President Mario Masuku and student leader Maxwell
Dlamini.

A series of events will be organised in South Africa and across the region to respond to this, which will include the launch of a ‘Free Mario and all detained political activists’ campaign, solidarity visits, and robust preparations for the Global Week of Action in September this year. 

The ASC joins the clarion call with progressive forces in Swaziland, Africa and around the world for an immediate release of all political prisoners detained in Swaziland, respect for life and human rights and the beginning of a process that seeks to democratise all fundamental institutions in Swaziland. The ASC is already working on reviving the SDC website.


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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:09:29 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=105
SASOWNET : New Horizons http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=104 A time for change, growth and new ideas for the South African Somali Women’s Network

On the 14th of June ACTION held a meeting with the South African Somali Women’s Network (SASOWNET). The meeting took place in a restaurant in Mayfair, and was attended by 9 women, including both new and old SASOWNET members. 

The meeting was primarily convened to introduce Fatima Hassan as the new coordinator of SASOWNET in Gauteng. The opportunity was also used to discuss SASOWNET plans and future strategies. The group agreed to strengthen their membership and group cohesion within Johannesburg. In addition, the members agreed on the need to galvanise the support of the youth as part of strengthening the network.  

Furthermore, the women agreed to stay a little longer to form a discussion group as part of a research project that was being conducted by Anisa Omar, a student from the University of Edinburgh, who was interning with ACTION at the time. The research project will also help to inform the future work of ACTION with SASOWNET.


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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:07:26 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=104
Policy Engagement on Post-2015 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=103 “Governance, peace and security are important to measure – and they are measurable”. This was the conclusion reached by African statistical offices already producing statistics on these issues, at a meeting held at the African Union on 11-12 June, which brought together 90 experts, including representatives from 24 African National Statistical Offices, data specialists on peace and governance, African Union Commission (AUC) officials, policymakers, civil society organizations and UN agencies.

The ACTION Support Centre was represented at the meeting and made input into the discussions aimed at taking forward the Post-2015 Development Agenda component of our work.

Drawing on pioneering work on statistics on governance, peace, and security currently taking place in the region, including the AUC’s Strategy for the Harmonization of Statistics in Africa’s (SHaSA) Group on Governance, Peace and Security (GPS), the City Group on Governance, Peace and  Security statistics, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the Continental Early Warning System (CEWS), Ushahidi and the G7+ grouping, the consultation reviewed the formulation of peace, governance, and rule of law targets proposed by the UN’s Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals, proposed measurable and relevant indicators, and discussed emerging innovative data collection methods. The meeting also served to inform ongoing efforts by the AUC to define specific targets and indicators aligned with the Peace and Security pillar of the Common African Position on the post-2015 Agenda. 

By showcasing the emerging success in Africa of the SHaSA GPS group and other initiatives, the meeting showed that measurement of progress in these areas is not only feasible in a wide range of country contexts, but also in high demand by the political leadership of many countries. SHaSA and other African-owned and led initiatives support the call for a ‘data revolution’ as a central tenet of the post-2015 development agenda. They also offer important models to examine in the context of goal 16 proposed by the OWG, on “Achieving peaceful and inclusive societies, rule of law, effective and capable institutions.”

The consultation was co-organized by the Statistical Division of the African Union Commission, the United Nations Development Programme, and Saferworld in collaboration with the African Development Bank, UN Economic Commission for Africa, UN Women, UN Office for Drugs and Crime, UN Peacebuilding Support Office with support from the Government of Finland. 

A full report on the outcomes of the meeting is available on request from the ACTION Support Centre.


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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:02:08 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=103
Making All Voices Count - Community of Practice http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=102 Joining forces to innovate and influence change

On Tuesday 17th June the Making All Voices Count South African grantee organisations met to establish a Community of Practice (CoP). The Community of Practice includes seven projects that will each be focused on innovation, scaling or researching.  The CoP will link together representatives from multiple networks of learning, mentoring and brokering of innovations at country level. This includes MAVC grantees, media actors, opinion formers (e.g. researchers, NGOs, local CSOs and CBOs), policy influencers, policymakers, donors, philanthropic investors in parallel fields such as open government, civic innovation and potentially sectorial networks within each of these fields.    

The Community of Practice will serve as a platform for learning and sharing between the grantees and partners of the Making All Voices Count project. The MAVC CoP seeks to encourage critical reflection among grantees as well as promote an on-going and effective learning environment.  This involves generating a shared set of challenges and experiences through a structured process; highlighting what does not work and why, as well as what works and why, and take lessons learned to improve current and future programmes or operations. Also key to the establishment of the Community of Practice is identifying the different synergies that exist in the projects and how they can provide opportunities of work and partnerships in future. 

One of the outcomes of the first CoP meeting is to have all MAVC grantees conduct a stakeholder analysis to identify appropriate in-country government departments or champions of voice and accountability that are relevant for their MAVC Program or target audiences. The ACTION Support Centre looks forward to making partnerships, and working together with the various partners involved. 


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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:00:04 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=102
The Way Forward in Alexandra Township http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=101 ACTION and Alexandra Local Peace Committee join discussions about the future of Alexandra

In the past couple of weeks, ACTION has been attending meetings and talking to people within Alexandra extensively. ACTION was involved in the launch of the Local Peace Committee in Alexandra in 2010, and is now seeking to strengthen the network of activists involved in conflict transformation in the township. As such, ACTION’s community liaison officer, Pretty Mncube and one of our interns from the University of Edinburgh, Suzanne Tossings, attended the Greater Alexandra Development Forum (GADF) meeting on Saturday the 7th of June. This formed part of an ongoing series of support visits to Alexandra to talk to local community leaders, meet with people in the municipality and engage people involved with the local peace committee about the way forward. 

During the GADF meeting the main issues discussed were the development of the GADF over the past 1.5 years, the plans of the Johannesburg Development Agency (under which the ARP – Alexandra Renewal Project – is now located), and specifically the new plans of the JDA with regards to the extension of the Rea Vaya to Alexandra. People gave their frank opinions openly, challenging the GADF and its progress on the Nelson Mandela heritage centre – a project started over 10 years ago and yet to be finished. Besides frank opinions, there was also room for celebration. Alex FM was applauded for obtaining five awards at the MDDA Sanlam Media Awards and Alex TV was congratulated on being awarded a broadcasting license. 

During the GADF meeting and the different meetings we held in the township, it became clear that Alex is still facing challenges, although there is a definite drive among the people to  improve the situation in the township, and ACTION is looking forward to supporting initiatives that will help build a united and peaceful Alexandra.


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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 12:56:03 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=101
Crisis in the Central African Republic: What role can South Africa and http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=100 Building Peace through African Solidarity

ACTION Support Centre attended a meeting on the 24th June 2014 hosted by DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS/MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES (MSF) in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Participants discussed what role South Africa and civil society can play with regards to the crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR). Not only does this initiative promote people to people solidarity, but it also calls for continental bodies and agencies to engage more effectively with the escalating crisis in support of efforts to bring about peace and stability in the country.

The discussion started with a briefing from Sylvain Groulx, MSF Head of Mission in CAR, 2012-2014. He argued that the CAR crisis is not, in fact, a religious crisis, but rather a result of poor governance, growing frustrations due to poor service delivery, and degrading state capacity building.

He also highlighted that since CAR independence in 1960, the country has not managed to develop sustainably due to numerous coup d’états. The situation escalated in 2012 with militias, rebels groups, and civilian armed groups fighting each other countrywide, leading to large-scale killings, gross human rights violations and large numbers of refugees being displaced to neighboring countries. 

While much of the analysis was useful placing an understanding of CAR within an historical context, and including an analysis of the competing interests of external forces and the connections they have to conflicting parties within CAR would add a useful and critical element to the overall understanding of the contemporary crisis and on the most effective strategies moving forward. 

The African Union, and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), along with France, have been unable to alter escalating violence. The peace agreements, dialogues and peacekeeping have been ineffective in delivering lasting peace and stability. There is growing interest in launching an appeal from South Africa, which is a major player in African diplomacy, and has played leading roles in peace deals and mediations on the continent. Furthermore, engaging South African civil society organisations through various advocacy activities for CAR, could lead to more responsive action from all stakeholders.

This initiative is a push for peace, through African solidarity, to end the crisis in CAR, and collectively act towards peace efforts in the continent. The ASC will be exploring ways in which a conflict transformation lens can assist in supporting and strengthening these collective efforts.


Photo credits: "Central African Republic: Torn Apart by Violence" by Photo Unit is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 

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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 12:47:24 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=100
My Poor Rich Africa http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=99 My Poor Rich Africa

Clothed in wealth, yet dwell in poverty

Marred by years of slavery and pain

The tears and anger of colonization and apartheid

Have penetrated the depth of our souls

They have stained our hearts and robbed our hearts of love

They have raped of our thoughts, understanding and kindness

Leaving us covered with vengeance and hatred

Sadly directed towards our very own

Hunger and deprivation has left us with abundance of greed and self-entitlement

We have so much yet own nothing

Our soil has held enough blood that it has become dry in its retaliation

And therefore cannot bear us enough food

Pregnant with minerals, yet the sweat of excavation has left us more tired and most poor

Blessed with oil to saturation yet no joy has come out of its spew

The difference in the colour of our skin has burdened our lives

And in our lesson from the painful experience

We punish others for their difference in religion and sexuality

We withhold love from one another because of our location in our beautiful continent

My Poor Rich Africa, what a blessed curse we have become

Poem by Setou Lesego 

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Mon, 07 Jul 2014 11:59:39 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=99
My Africa http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=98 My Africa

Forgotten, like an undone daffodil - abandoned, like an unloved child - exploited, like an unworthy prostitute - and persecuted, like the unwanted Christ. The story of my people - the hidden glory of my Africa.

Bare-backed and broken she stumbled through the corridors of time. A shadow cast onto her former glory, her crown stolen by light-skinned brutes and her history unwritten by scholars faraway - her story is my story; the story of my people - the hidden glory of my Africa.

Unrelenting in her will to hope, she raised giants; Shaka, Cetwayo, Selassie, Lumumba, Nkrumah, Fanon, Achibe, Mandela; her sons fighting an oppression so brutal it brought God to tears. Their story is my story, the story of my people - the hidden glory of my Africa.

The arc of history ever bending in her favour, she raised her shoulders; she began to walk. Wrestling with a night over three centuries old - she broke the yoke of slavery, she toppled colonialism. This story is my story, the story of my people - the hidden glory of my Africa.

Unshaken and unbound, her bosom begins to blossom, her sun begins to shine. Her tears gleaming in the light, her legs running with might. Our daughter is now a woman - her young breasts now swell. "Renaissance" she shouts, "Revival" she screams, "Africa Rising" is her song and my story is her beat. Her rhythm is my rhythm, her story is my story; the story of my people - the hidden glory of my Africa.

Undiminished in her drive - she still runs; pushing towards her vision of glory and dignity - she still runs! Looking to the day when she will be free - she runs. Reborn of a righteous fire that cannot be quenched, she will not falter - she will not fail. Running with her, the ever-present narrative of her story; "Amandla, Awetu!" the story of my people - the hidden glory of my Africa.

by M. M. Mpanya

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Mon, 07 Jul 2014 11:49:48 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=98
I am an African Slave http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=97 I am an African Slave

Trapped in my skin are my bones
I am a prisoner in my own land
I am not dead
No blade is sharp enough to free me
No scream is loud enough to hear me

The death of my feet has left me numb
Down I sit with nothing to eat
I cry. I cry and no one can really hear me
My falling tears stain the silky material of my bed
No one really cares

My parents are working so hard with no fortune to show
Only scars of pain and sorrow
Sobbing, hoping and wishing
Wishing everything come to an end

I am oppressed by the horrifying past
I am contradicted by confusing present
I am fearful of the uncertain future

Everyday I try to be happy
Joy has deserted me as I slowly lost hope
Hatred for life has increased
Hatred that kidnapped the remaining of my hopes
I am an African slave



PK Logolong

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Mon, 07 Jul 2014 11:41:37 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=97
Join the Caravan and Make a Difference http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=96 The African Solidarity Caravan

Building and Deepening a Culture of Pan-African People-to-People Solidarity

Reflect, Connect, Strategise, Organise, Mobilise, Transform, Consolidate, Celebrate

Join the Caravan and Make a Difference

During May 2014 Africa Week Festival the ACTION Support Centre (ASC) through its initiative the Proudly African Campaign launched the African Solidarity Caravan in Yeoville, South Africa on the 23rd of May 2014. Following this successful Launch, the ASC invites all Africans across the continent and in the Diaspora to participate in the Caravan through organising local events that contribute to building and deepening a culture of Pan-African people-to-people solidarity. 

The Caravan Launch, preceded by a Public Dialogue and followed by Africa Day Celebration brought together hundreds of conflict transformation, peace, trade union, women, religious, solidarity, socio-economic and political activists, students, artists and leaders at all levels for reflections and discussions on key issues, including celebrating and developing practically implementable strategies. The following key topics drove the discussions, reflections and celebration; Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance, African Feminist thought and action, leadership, citizenship and good governance, the African political economy, including a solidarity focus with the kidnapped learners in Nigeria, and detained Swazi activists in Swaziland.

The African Solidarity Caravan seeks to deepen the connections between Africans across the continent and in the Diaspora, through a series of events hosted by local networks that will culminate into a Peace and Human Security Festival, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia towards the end of 2014. This process will also including stimulating exchange of innovative, creative and practically implementable strategies and ideas that contribute to a deepened culture of Pan-African people-to-people solidarity, African Renaissance and to the broader vision of a world of justice and peace in which all the basic needs of people are met and peoples’ rights and dignity are respected.

All Africans across the continent and in the Diaspora are invited to organise collaborative events that take the momentum of the Caravan forward. These events can take the form of reflective and analytical sessions, information and experience sharing discussions, solidarity vigils, pickets, marches, blitzing, street theatre encounters, cultural evenings and celebrations. Therefore, the ASC encourages activists to do one or more of the following:

  • Organise a local event that contributes to building and deepening a culture of Pan-African people-to-people solidarity, justice, peace and development.
  • Send messages of solidarity to any African struggle of their choice and or demands that will form part of the Declaration that will be submitted to the Africa Union (AU) through the Chair Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. This can be in the form of short videos and statements as well.
  • Share organic stories of organisation, mobilisation and transformation, including initiatives around peace, solidarity, African Renaissance, human and people’s rights, cultural celebrations etc. This will be posted and shared on websites and social media platforms hosting Caravan information and will form a pool of stories from which solidarity activists can draw lessons and experience.
  • Writing articles, short stories, graphic, art and cartoon work, poems, short videos that focus on Peace, African Renaissance, Sustainable Development, Pan-Africanism, Pan-African Solidarity and other related topics.
  • Tweet and post Facebook status updates on Peace, African Renaissance, Sustainable Development, Pan-Africanism, Pan-African Solidarity adding any or all of the following #tags; #ProudlyAfriCan, #AfricanSolidarityCaravan. Proudly African T-shirts and burets have been produced to reward those who use these #tags.  
  • Share this information and mobilise their broad networks to participate in this initiative.
  • Join the main event, a Human festival in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.

To submit your proposed local event, message of solidarity, demands, organic stories, writings, art, videos, and to request more information, please contact:

Philani Ndebele

Campaigns Manager

The ACTION Support Centre

philani@asc.org.za, +27 (0) 11 482 2484

 

For more information visit: www.proudlyafrican.mobi

Facebook: ProudlyAfriCanCampaign

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Thu, 19 Jun 2014 09:43:07 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=96
Farewell Sulega Dahir Hussein, Welcome Fatuma Hassan http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=95

The ACTION Support Centre would like to bid farewell to our dear friend Sulega Dahir Hussein who is now relocating to the United States. We have had the honour of working with Sulega on numerous programmes, one of them including the South African Somali Women's Network (SASOWNET). Sulega also gave a rousing input to the African Solidarity Caravan launch in Yeoville as part of our Africa Week programme, working in partnership with the African Diaspora Forum and the Africa Week committee. The SASOWNET Johannesburg group will meet soon to discuss the way forward. In the meantime we would like to introduce Fatuma "Cheche" Hassan as the SASOWNET Johannesburg co-ordinator in the interim.  We wish Sulega all the best and hope to keep our connection strong. 

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Fri, 06 Jun 2014 11:11:18 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=95
University of Edinburgh Interns http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=94 ASC Welcomes Anisa and Suzanne

During the months of May and June the ACTION Support Centre is hosting two postgraduate students from the University of Edinburgh, who are joining their team for this period. Anisa Omar and Suzanne Tossings, both studying the MSc Africa and International Development, are interning at ACTION to gain insight into the workings of a peacebuilding organization, and to do research for their final dissertations, which will also contribute to the work of ACTION.

Suzanne will be researching the conflict dynamics and state-citizen relationship in Alexandra. Her main focus will be on how the Local Peace Committee in Alex can collaborate with different stakeholders involved in Alexandra, in order to improve the situation and make the work that is being done more effective. She has been talking to different people from the Local Peace Committee in Alex and will continue to meet different people and attend public meetings in the township. 

Anisa will be conducting research on the Somali diaspora in South Africa. Anisa’s research will investigate how a culture of solidarity contributes to a perception of safety and human security. In particular, the research will focus on the forms of protection and income generation activities devised by Somali women in exile in South Africa, as part of ACTION’s commitment to the Bridging the Gaps and forging Partnerships program. Anisa hopes that the successful completion of this work will further assist the organization in supporting Somali women, and strengthening their partnership with the South African Somali Women’s Network (SASOWNET).

Besides their research, both Anisa and Suzanne have been attending various events organized by ACTION, such as the Applied Conflict Transformation course and the various events organized in Africa Week. 


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Fri, 06 Jun 2014 11:09:39 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=94
Syria Workshop http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=93 ACTION works with Mobaderoon to provide training for Syrian Peace Activists

ACTION facilitated a workshop for the Forum of Development Culture and Dialogue in Lebanon. The workshop brought together a diverse group of youth from across Syria, working in both Government and Opposition controlled areas, and with a wide range of religious and political affiliations. 

The aim of the workshop was to provide skills and strategies that would support youth to initiate projects in support of dialogue, tolerance, and an end to violence in the various contexts in which they are located.

The workshop was intense and inspiring, using the ASC conflict transformation approach to create innovative spaces for dialogue, discussion and experience sharing, based on the starting point that the most important resource for learning lies within the existing knowledge of the participants who formed part of the event.

This is the second workshop ACTION has facilitated for FDCD. Several participants who had started initiatives arising out of the first workshop in 2013 were able to attend this event, sharing the work they had been able to undertake, as well as the insights and lessons learned in overcoming the tremendous challenges involved in trying to do this kind of peacebuilding work in the midst of war.

Many examples of activities in which Syrian people are working together to keep hope alive, to acknowledge and strengthen the connections between diverse groups of people and to bring the shared Mobaderoon and ACTION value of UBUNTU to life were shared. These examples remind us of how important it is to keep the relational element of our work strongly in focus as we seek also to engage with policy debates and influence decision makers, and of how important local level peacebuilding is, even when high level formal discussions do not appear to be moving forward.

Coming as it did on the eve of the Syrian election the time in Beirut also allowed for ACTION to consolidate and strengthen its existing partnership with Mobaderoon, a network movement of over 4000 activists working across the country. Several side meetings were held aimed at establishing a way forward that will deepen the institutional connections between ACTION and Mobaderoon. In addition, discussions were held aimed at exploring how the partnership might support efforts to link the peacebuilding work on the ground to the higher-level peace dialogue process. These discussions and the ideas generated will be taken forward over the next few months.

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Fri, 06 Jun 2014 11:06:13 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=93
Making All Voices Count Conference http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=92 ICT and conflict transformation technology in early warning and early response initiatives 

Making All Voices Count (MAVC) recently hosted a learning and inspiration event that took place from May 26th to May 28th in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The ACTION Support Centre had the honour of being part of the event, as it will be starting a project aimed at assessing the effectiveness of the use of ICT and conflict transformation technology in conflict early warning and early response initiatives. 

The project “From Early Warning to Response in Preventing Violence: Transforming Conflict through Citizen Engagement” engages three contexts through partnerships with the Zanzibar Interfaith Centre, People’s Voice for Peace in Gulu (Northern Uganda), and with Local Peace Committees in South Africa’s Gauteng Province. The Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies (CPRS) at Coventry University joins the ACTION Support Centre in eighteen months of engagement and investigation with our three partners as we seek ways to examine the communication gaps between citizens and institutions in contexts of conflict. Together we will explore the effectiveness of systems aimed at narrowing these gaps and we intend to establish systems that enable a more effective, collaborative partnership between local level stakeholders.

The Learning and Inspiration Event brought together a wide range of participants, including Making All Voices Count partners, potential partners, and experts in transparency, voice, accountability, and technology, to focus on: bridging different life-worlds and evidence into practice. The event provided a platform for the participants to share knowledge and experience, develop new relationships with others working on these issues, and offer space for reflection on the evidence that exists as they embark on the new initiatives Making All Voices Count is supporting.

The Learning and Inspiration Event also provided the participants with an opportunity to visit some of the villages in Dar es Salaam. The field visits allowed the participants to engage with the locals and leaders of the villages and find out more about how they engaged with their government. Some on the field visits argued that the prevailing conditions indicated that much needed to be done by the government in terms of providing basic free services. However, most locals felt the government was doing the best it can do, and there were many examples of people playing an instrumental role in their own development.

The event provided an opportunity for reflection, learning and information sharing and we as the ACTION Support Centre are ready to work together with the respective partners in support of preventing and eradicating violence in all its forms.


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Fri, 06 Jun 2014 11:04:33 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=92
Thabo Mbeki Foundation 5th Africa Day Lecture http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=91 ASC members attended the 5th Thabo Mbeki Foundation Africa Day Lecture. Hosted by the University of South Africa and the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute, the evening event was built around the topic of  “Defining a leadership paradigm for a new Africa”. 

With a welcome from Professor Mandla Makhanya, Vice Chancellor of UNISA, introductory remarks from former President Mbeki and a key note address from His Excellency Salim Ahmed Salim, the event offered a real opportunity to hear and share in the wisdom of seasoned diplomats and international relations expertise. 

As the former Prime Minister of Tanzania, Ambassador and High Commissioner to China, India, Egypt and Cuba, to mention only a few, and the President of the International Conference on Sanctions against South Africa, Salim Salim is probably better placed than most to share insights on the topic at hand.

The input was inspiring, informative and absolutely pertinent, addressing and acknowledging the problems faced by our continent and its leaders, but seeking always to look to the future and the best possible ways for us to move forward collectively. The final text of the input is available here.

In addition to the formal speech, the Ambassador shared personal stories, including the efforts to have representatives of the apartheid South African government physically removed from the UN General Assembly after they had officially been suspended, back in 1974. 

With reference to the Freedom Generation of African leaders, including Nkrumah, Nasser, Lumumba, Balewa, Keita, Mondlane and others, the Ambassador reminded us that Africa had demonstrated its ability to produce great leadership. He referred specifically to the people-centered nature of this leadership, leaders that saw their role as serving the people and who had a strong sense of Vision, Mission and the values of commitment and selflessness.


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Fri, 06 Jun 2014 11:02:58 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=91
CIVICUS Meeting http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=90 Human Rights Paradigms and the Global South

ACTION Support Centre attended a meeting at CIVICUS organised by Camila Asano and Laura Waisbich from CONECTAS, an International Human Rights NGO based in Brazil.

CONECTAS is actively involved in advocacy, strategic litigation, and use of human rights mechanisms, production and dissemination of knowledge, capacity building of human rights defenders, as well as linking global South GOs/CSOs and other parties committed in the fight for rights.

The meeting highlighted the role of CONECTAS in the Foreign Policy of Brazil. The two representatives encouraged other CSOs of developing countries to initiate open discussions on their role in influencing decision-making on their countries’ foreign policy with regards to human rights. Their work started in 2005, though they faced challenges from the beginning to have access to Brazil’s foreign policy document and legislations, but at later stage their efforts paid off, as they can claim that they are able to influence Brazil’s foreign policy. They shared the following tips as part their strategy:

1. Information on Brazil voting behavior at the UN

2. To build a strong network (in Brazil and elsewhere) like with CIVICUS and others

3. Media (press) inviting them to activities

4. To position themselves for check and balance 

They argued that scholars from developing countries should discuss, publish and share reports about human rights amongst those in the global South, as well as sharing experiences of how to engage government to enhance records on human rights. There is no doubt that the South suffers from the North’s Foreign Policy. Therefore, South–South cooperation between CSOs must deepen, as it is happening at state level, with regards to IBSA, given their influences in the global economy. 

ACTION is of the view that a major paradigm shift is required in the way rights and rights violations are understood. The dominant view on what constitutes a rights violation suggests that the global South has more human rights violations that any other part of the world.  This view argues that countries such as North Korea, Iran, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, and China amongst others; are the key areas where oppression and repression happen regularly against journalists, civic groups, activists, and opposition leaders as well as against people demonstrating or expressing their freedoms or rights.  While of course there is much truth in this narrative there are other places where rights have been and continue to be consistently violated, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and even against minority groups within the borders of established democracies, like the U.S.A., Europe and Australia. These violations draw far less attention, but are equally cause for major concern. Declaring war and the armed invasion of territories in violation of international law is surely also the most critical abuse of power that needs to be addressed. Care needs to be taken not to allow a manipulative western agenda to co-opt the rights agenda for purposes that are often not driven by the need for universal respect of all rights, including cultural and socio-economic rights, and the right to safety and human security.

In conclusion, there is common acknowledgement that CSOs and NGOs must work for the advancement of democracy and human rights, and provisions must be made to align domestic with international law, and also deal with the issue of the interpretation and implementation of international law, as well as the necessity for sharing experiences between developing countries with regards to the promotion of human rights. This domestic approach should also be bolstered with the building of a solidarity movement that can shift the paradigm on human and people’s rights, and challenge all rights violations wherever they occur.


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Fri, 06 Jun 2014 11:01:22 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=90
Celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Peace and Security Council http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=89 Perspectives of African Non-State Actors on the work of the PSC

The African Union Commission (AUC) at a consultative meeting of civil society organisations (CSOs) and research institutes held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 16 April 2014 designated ACCORD, ISS, OXFAM and WANEP to organise regional consultations of non-state actors as a platform for developing concrete recommendations on how to enhance the relationship between stakeholders and the AU in the promotion of peace and security on the continent in the next decade.

In line with Article 20 of the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU), the PSC has taken steps to ‘… encourage non-governmental organizations to participate actively in the efforts aimed at promoting peace, security and stability in Africa’. It is against this backdrop that the 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration, the Tripoli Declaration, the Tripoli Plan of Action, the Maseru Conclusions and the Livingstone Formula are instructive.

In view of interactions with the PSC and the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) over the past 10 years, the regional consultations provided an avenue for non-state actors to share their perceptions and perspectives of the PSC and AU in an all-inclusive process. It was specifically to give a voice to non-state AU stakeholders, create awareness and understanding of the work of the PSC/APSA and enable CSOs to contribute to and review the mechanisms and normative frameworks of the Commission. 

The consultative meeting that took place from the 21st to the 22nd of May was aimed at compiling the regional outcomes into a report that was going to be presented to the AUC and at the Peace and Security Council’s 10th year anniversary and the celebrations of the Africa day held in Addis Ababa on the 25th of May. The report included an analysis of the Peace and Security Council’s operations since its establishment, the context of peace and security on the continent, and challenges and recommendations that CSO’s gathered from the regional consultation meetings.

The key objectives of these consultations were to assess the PSC in its first 10 years of operation, and to establish how the relationship between the PSC and non-state actors can be enhanced in order to promote peace, security and stability in Africa. The report also reflected on the Peace and Security Council 10 years ago and whether it has managed to fulfill its obligations. Although everyone acknowledged what the PSC has managed to do on the continent to preserve peace, its operations have been marred by a number of challenges. Some of the challenges identified include funding constraints, inadequate logistical support for peace support operations, weak coordination between relevant stakeholders and insufficient communication and accessibility around the work of the PSC amongst others.

However, in light of these challenges, non-state actors identified some key recommendations to improve the work of the PSC. Some of the recommendations made were that with regard to funding constraints, there is need for African ownership of African peace and security initiatives, and hence peace and security should be prioritised for funding. In this regard, pressure needs to be put on member states to make greater financial contributions to the Peace Fund. However, sanctions should be considered for countries that are not contributing. With regard to weak coordination, complementarity and subsidiarity should be practised with the view of avoiding duplication and overlap of efforts and fostering efficient task –sharing between the UN and the AUC/PSC on the one hand and the RECs/RMs and the AUC/PSC on the other. This would in turn allow coordination between the different organs and allow for CSOs to observe and monitor their (non-) compliance. 

However, non-state actors also made some commitments to the PSC and AUC. Given the lack of knowledge of the breadth of CSOs on the continent, and hence limited interaction with the PSC, non-state actors pledge to contribute to the mapping of authentic and active CSOs working across the continent as per the Maseru conclusions and in line with Article 20 of the PSC Protocol. This report will be submitted to the AUC for inclusion in their databases. 

Consultations revealed that non-state actors had limited knowledge on some of the issues and thus had the opportunity to learn about and appreciate the width and breadth of PSC interventions. Going forward, non-state actors commit to educate themselves on the work, structures and procedures of the PSC and to engage more and also contribute to the dissemination of evidence-based research, as well as outreach and capacity building initiatives to African citizens and their formations on AU peace and security related issues. A first specific commitment has been made to host a training workshop in Tunisia on addressing the knowledge gap.

The report was presented to the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) on the 25th of May where it marked and celebrated its Tenth Anniversary of its launching, with the participation of all AU Member States, AU Organs, Representatives of the Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs), bilateral and multilateral partners, African Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), think tanks and academic institutions. The celebration provided an excellent opportunity for the Council to take stock of the achievements made and the challenges encountered over the past decade in the promotion and maintenance of peace, security and stability in Africa with a view to achieving the fundamental objective of creating a conflict-free Africa, in line with the letter and spirit of the Solemn Declaration adopted by the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government on 26 May 2013. 

Participants appreciated the opportunity given by the AUC to non-state actors to input into the strategic planning of the PSC. To build on the momentum created by this process, participants encourage an annual review and coordination between the AUC, and PSC in particular, and non-state actors.  


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Fri, 06 Jun 2014 11:00:07 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=89
Africa Day Festival http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=88 Colour, Culture and Africa's Bright Future

ACTION Support Centre (ASC) as part of its commitment to African people solidarity held its annual cultural festival to celebrate Africa Day. The event sought to bring together the diverse and vibrant African communities living in Johannesburg. The aim of the event was to celebrate and promote a culture of African unity and people-to-people solidarity between and among Africans living in South Africa and across the continent.  

The day started off with a beautiful parade organised by ASC in partnership with the African Diaspora Forum (ADF) and members of the Africa Week organising committee. It sought to represent as many African countries as possible. The parade – full of people dressed in traditional attire, flags from different African countries, children’s dance groups and different marching bands - attracted a lot of attention from the local communities. Many local children joined the parade and people waved and took pictures from their gardens, windows and balconies. Spirits were high and the parade created a sense of togetherness and unity amongst those joining in.

After winding through the streets of Yeoville, the parade march came to an end at the open field, where ACTION had organised a stage. A number of artists, including poets, inspirational speakers, musicians, and dancers, performed to entertain the crowd and to celebrate Africa.  Although the event was designed to create a happy and festive atmosphere, it was important to shed some light on some of the issues facing the continent. Activists and poets from different parts of Africa took the stage to speak on the challenges and the struggles the continent continues to face.  

ACTION took the opportunity to highlight current pressing issues affecting the continent. ASC demanded the return of the abducted Nigeria girls and the immediate release of the political activists in Swaziland. The various activists motivated the crowd through solidarity and unity messages. They reminded the African people that unity and solidarity with one and another was necessary for Africa to move towards a better future. The media was present at the event and captured the momentum.  

The day proceeded with dance and music performances by artists from all over the continent. People were very engaged and danced and sang alongside the artists, making the day a great success.  

The Africa Day celebration marked the end of a series of events designed to celebrate Africa Week. The events included the successful launch of the Africa Solidarity Caravan. The ACTION team is pleased that the objectives of the events were successfully met and that the vision of a unified Africa has gathered real momentum. It is now important to consolidate this energy and ensure that the African Solidarity Caravan treks on through Africa to the Human Peace and Security festival in Addis Ababa. 

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Fri, 06 Jun 2014 10:58:51 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=88
African Solidarity Caravan Launch http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=87

The African Solidarity Caravan, a collaborative initiative catalyzed by the ACTION Support Centre, was launched on Friday 23 May, in Yeoville. The Caravan is a call to action for Africans across the continent and the world to join forces behind the vision of a united Africa, collectively building a vibrant future for the continent. It is a future in which rights and justice prevail, where our shared heritage is celebrated, and our shared humanity cuts across all boundaries, transcending the differences that threaten to divide us. The Caravan will seek to spearhead a movement across the continent to translate this vision into practical action, through a series of events hosted by local networks, such as festivals, dialogues, workshops and campaigns. It was in this spirit that the Caravan was launched, to the sound of music, laughter and dancing, and a march of solidarity for detained activists in Swaziland, victims of violence in the DRC and Central African Republic, and survivors of war, repression and structural violence across Africa and around the world. The 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram was repeatedly raised as an area of major concern, demanding of a strong solidarity response.

The ACTION team began the day by taking the vision into the streets of Yeoville, inviting the local community to join the event. The hall was colourfully decorated with banners and posters, and crowds streamed in to kick the day off with singing and dancing. A large contingent of school children attended, from Ithemba Study Institute and Velamfundo Independent School - schools that cater for migrant and refugee students, assisting them with integratation into South African society.  

Remembering the distress of our Nigerian brothers and sisters over the abduction of more than 200 of their schoolgirls, and with the vision of a united Africa in mind, a march was organized to call for their immediate return. The march was lead by the schoolgirls, holding up a banner with the ‘bringbackourgirls’ hashtag. The procession marched through the streets, chanting “bring back our girls!”, and drawing much interest from onlookers. The media soon arrived on the scene, with cameras and notebooks in hand. When asked what the march was about, one schoolboy threw his arms into the air, shouting “we want our girls back!”. 

Back inside the hall, people continued to dance for a while before settling down for the press statement to be read. A panel of speakers offered their insights on the significance of the caravan, and delivered messages of solidarity for fellow Africans engaged in struggles elsewhere on the continent.

Isabella Matambanadzo spoke of the uniting purpose of the Caravan, saying that, “no African should struggle on a continent that is full of other people”. She thanked those South Africans who were leading by example, helping and opening their homes to those from other parts of Africa. The Caravan, she said, is to spread this kind of ethic to all parts of Africa, going wherever there are people in trouble, offering a helping hand and declaring “We understand what you are going through”. She pointed out that it is often much easier to send money, drugs or guns across our borders than people. She called upon Africans to dream of an Africa where it is much easier to cross borders – borders that we did not create – and to learn that wherever we come from, we can stand side by side.

A representative of the South African Somali Women’s Network (SASOWNET), Sulega Dahir Hussein, shared her own story of moving to South Africa because of war in Somalia. She described the difficulty she faced integrating into South African society, being victimized by those who misunderstood her reasons for living in South Africa, and the formation of SASOWNET to help with the integration process. She challenged people to seek an understanding of why foreigners have come here, and to welcome them, because “we are one”.

Mzi Sibeko began his talk pointing out our rights to have a home, parents, peace, love and security. However, he asked how far we have come in building a greater, stronger, and more secure Africa, that no longer carries the begging role throughout the world, and an education that brings us closer to ourselves and awakens the giant within. The Caravan, he said, offers an opportunity to look into the future and define what we want as a people, with a just and peaceful society at the forefront of this dream.

Reflecting on the day, a clear precedent was set for the African Solidarity Caravan, to keep the momentum going, and to pave the way for a solidarity movement to spill across the borders of our continent and bring the dream of a renewed Africa to life. 

Over the next few months ACTION will be supporting its members and partners across the continent to initiate collaborative events that take the momentum of the caravan forward. If you would like to find out more, or submit an event proposal, please contact philani@asc.org.za.


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Fri, 06 Jun 2014 10:57:10 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=87
Public Dialogue http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=86 Why we protect the very borders that divide us, the individual as the starting point for transformation and other discussions

On May 22nd, the Africa Week events kicked off with a full day public dialogue, in which activists, leaders and individuals from across the continent discussed and reflected on African socio-economic and political issues. This also involved considering strategies to address Africa’s numerous challenges and finding practical ways of tapping into the potential for the re-awakening of Africa. 

Several speakers offered insights on topics ranging from democracy to the role of African women in a transformative agenda. 

Bishop Paul Verryn emphasized the importance of social cohesion and equality as mechanisms that need to be implemented to build an Africa that is free of social injustices, such as xenophobia. He also highlighted the fact that each and every individual has or must be given an opportunity to find within themselves whether he or she has something to contribute to the betterment of the society. In this he showed the participants that all of us have a role to play in building our respective communities.

Gino Govender spoke about the concept of democracy, reflecting on the 20 years of democracy in South Africa, and locating this in the much longer history of human existence and interaction on the African continent. He posed the question, “where do we come from and how did we get here?”, and pointed out that migration has always been a part of our history. He challenged Africans, as a people, to think beyond borders, explaining that once we understand how the borders came about, we will reject them, rather than protecting the very colonial borders that shaped discrimination and equality in African society. He asked how our education has facilitated that school of thought, and suggested that the way to a truly democratic state lies with state and community co-operation. It is therefore important that we empower grassroots initiatives of development.

Isabella Matambanadzo discussed the challenges facing African women, and the tragedy that in Africa women are still exploited and disempowered. She made a call to bring back the 200 Nigerian girls, saying that women should have a right to education. Participants agreed that the empowerment of women is central to the empowerment of Africa as a whole, and men and women alike must be part of the solution. 

Mzi Sibeko led the final session, and facilitated an open discussion, responding to the topics raised. He invited participants to speak in whichever language they felt most comfortable with, which encouraged the flow of input from the floor. Some of the thoughts and reflections are as follows:

• Society needs to be empowered by basic education, to help smooth transitions into a democracy.

• Africa needs to eliminate the politics of class in its systems.

• Africanism happens when we begin to travel across Africa without being asked for our passports.

• Unity will take Africa forward even when other strategies fail.

• The “second best” mentality must die; and Africans must embrace their full potential.

• Great leadership does not come from a vacuum, but is a reflection of the people you lead; there cannot be great leaders without great people.

• We need to find ways to unlock the potential of women. We need to find a consensus between men and women in regards to cohesion in leadership.

• A television show might be necessary for the sending of the solidarity message.

• Collaboration among organizations is necessary for the practicality of our objective.

• Self-reflection is an essential component of change; we must be the change we want to see in the world

In conclusion, the day provided a space to discuss in depth the challenges facing Africa, and share in motivating and inspiring one another to take action. Action that starts within ourselves, and our communities, and through our collective efforts can contribute to the Africa we envision.


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Fri, 06 Jun 2014 10:55:34 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=86
Mobaderoon Visit http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=85 Delegation of Mobaderoon Peace Activists from Syria visit ACTION

As part of its mission of building a culture of people to people solidarity and a global network of individuals, as well as the commitment to positive action to transform conflict, ACTION hosted delegates of the Mobaderoon Network in South Africa for a series of meetings. 

Mobaderoon is a Syrian based network of activists working in organizations and associations (Civil society, Private and public sector) contributing to building local social initiatives connected on a national level, sharing their resources and experiences on an interactive platform.

Mobaderoon met the Institute for the Healing of Memories in Cape Town, where they shared experiences and discussed possible co-operation between them on how to support the healing journeys of Syrians affected directly and indirectly by the violence.  While in Cape Town, the Mobaderoon Delegation visited the Delft community on the Cape Flats and spent time with at the home of Sakhe Siswe and District Six Museum. They also had a brief conversation with Dr. Imam Rashied Omar  who is also the present Chairperson of the Western Cape Religious Forum. 

As part of their caravan visit, the Mobaderoon delegation met the ACTION Support Centre team in Johannesburg, where they shared their activities and had the opportunities to get a sense of ACTION’s work. They met with Afro-Middle East Centre, and Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, as well as members of the Concerned Africans Group, and an official of DIRCO. It is important to highlight that these meetings were fruitful and inspiring for the Mobaderoon work in Syria. They also visited the Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill Visit.

ACTION supports Mobaderoon’s work and their engagement in peacebuilding and national cohesion initiatives, and has confidence that their work will be constructive in transforming the Syrian conflict.  


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Fri, 06 Jun 2014 10:53:21 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=85
Gaborone Consultation Process http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=84 Civil Society and the Peace and Security Council

The ACTION Support Centre was represented at the Southern Africa Consultation on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the Peace and Security Council held in Gaborone from the 14th to the 15th of May.

In her opening remarks the newly appointed SADC Executive Secretary, H.E. Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax called on participants to use the consultation to reflect on the contribution of civil society in shaping the work of the Peace and Security Council and to make recommendations that could have “profound implications for the future of the PSC in general and SADC’s peace and security agenda in particular.”

Civil society organizations from 12 SADC member states attended the consultation. The hosts of the consultation, ACCORD, acknowledged that the meeting could not claim to be fully representative of civil society views from across the region, however under the time constraints faced, it was clear that some effort had been made to bring a diverse group of relevant organizations together.

The consultation included a set of useful inputs and some discussion amongst participants that resulted in a set of recommendations that were taken forward to the Addis Ababa meeting with the African Union Commission and the AU Peace and Security Council.

The overall process of this continental consultation, and the discussions within the meeting, raise a number of important questions for all civil society groupings, and for governance institutions that seek to involve civil society in contributing to the African Peace and Security Architecture.

The report produced by ACCORD out of the meeting is available here.

Efforts to build consensus or a framework for collaboration between civil society groupings need to pay close attention to issues of mandate and legitimacy. Collaborative efforts that genuinely seek to identify areas of commonality in analysis and approach across diverse civil society actors require careful leadership that finds a balance between arriving at an outcome and ensuring there is a sense of ownership amongst those involved. 

Time needs to be given for documentation that emerges out of discussions to be subjected to review, and there must be space for additions and amendments if the document claims to represent the views of all involved. It would be a lost opportunity, and an exacerbation of existing relationship challenges if civil society groups are co-opted into processes that are dominated by one group who then speak on behalf of people from whom they have not really obtained a mandate.

Establishing internal forms of democratic decision-making will add to the legitimacy and accountability of civic voices. Practicing these forms of collaboration in action will demonstrate that as civil society we are able to offer a real alternative to the current status quo in which so many people feel removed from how decisions are made.

Questions around how to build and strengthen existing forms of organization, and to take care not to drown out or marginalize local capacities for peace are also critical within any consultation process. That these processes were hosted by ACCORD in Southern Africa, the Institute for Peace and Security Studies in East and Central Africa, and by Oxfam International in North Africa, does not on the surface appear to constitute a fair or meaningful arrangement that will empower existing national or regional groups. 

The ASC will continue to engage in these consultations, based on the belief that the opportunities to extend our web of networks outweigh the concerns raised by the flaws in the process. Engaging with the process, looking for opportunities to assist in strengthening the approach, and to influence the process as it unfolds are still useful intentions. 

As this process moved to Addis Ababa the ASC was still involved. Initially it appeared as though a tiered structure of participation, with some relegated to observer status was proposed, though this was withdrawn as the discussions proceeded. 

The proceedings and outcomes of the Addis meeting are recorded separately in this newsletter.

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Fri, 06 Jun 2014 10:47:26 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=84
Applied Conflict Transformation Course http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=83

ASC hosted the Applied Conflict Transformation (ACT) course form the 5th – 9th May 2014 in Johannesburg. The course seeks to engage practitioners, policy-makers, governments, institutions and members of its global networks in a weeklong learning exchange.  During the course ASC welcomed 17 participants from different countries around the African continent, including: South Sudan, Lesotho, Malawi, Gabon, Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada, Swaziland, Namibia, Somalia, Kenya and Lesotho.   10 participants were women and 7 were men, with youth activists, human rights advocates, governance professionals and senior academics sitting side by side, sharing their stories and learning together. 

The course aims to promote people-centered approaches to transforming conflicts through a process of learning, sharing and working together at all levels and to do this in a way that builds trust and creates a culture of peace. The course uses a variety of approaches to learning, including facilitation, group discussions, case study presentations from various specialist resource persons and field visits. Conflict is seen as a source of energy, with the potential to bring the change we need. We learn how to understand it, how to use it, and how to use the relationships we form to manage it, to harness it, and to transform it. We focus on individuals, and organisations. Most essentially, we work to build relationships. These include relationships between individuals, organisations, movements and policymakers. 

The ACT course is a highly participatory learning exchange between participants, benefitting from a rich range of resource professionals and visits to places of historical and contemporary significance in South Africa. The course outline is tailored in response to needs identified by the participants themselves, through the application process.  

A transformative approach to social conflict requires strong collaborative partnerships between individuals, organisations, institutions and the systems within which they exist.  In line with this approach, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the ACTION Support Centre (ASC) have nurtured a cooperative and collaborative partnership, which recently led to their co-hosting a stimulating afternoon of dialogue and debate. A panel of speakers was invited to discuss various issues, which contributed enormously to the learning process. Discussions following the various presentations pointed to the necessity of strengthening Africa’s regional bodies and restoring Africa’s agency through African action. There was a call for African solutions to African problems. 

Furthermore, the well researched and challenging presentations delivered by each of the four panelists highlighted the multiple connections and perspectives needing to be factored into analysis of social, economic, political and environmental conflict. A strong need for cooperation and collaboration between civil society, organisations, institutions and governments emerged from the discussion, with a need to improve access to education and consider our common humanity and humility at the core of this change. ACT course participants and the audience as a whole had an opportunity to strengthen their individual and mutual networks and consider how best to put the lessons learned into practice. 

During the course, the team of facilitators shared their collective experiences working in conflict transformation within Southern Africa, across the continent, throughout the Middle East and North African regions and globally; drawing on powerful examples of social transformation in action around the world and the importance of strong networks. 

In addition, field visits to the Apartheid Museum and Constitutional Hill highlighted the South African history and experience as a case study for all of the participants. Both guided visits provided powerful visual images of South Africa’s journey through struggle towards democracy, and consideration of this case study further strengthened the application of our analyses.  

ASC recognises a deep need to develop long-term strategies to transform society and promote appreciation and respect of cultural diversity at all levels of society. The intention of all 17 participants to “be the change they want to see in the world”, and to apply the lessons learned throughout the 5-day course to themselves as individuals, and to the contexts in which they originate, is truly powerful. Participants managed to come up with a vision for Africa, the Africa they would want to see in the future. The result is the strengthening of a network of conflict transformation practitioners and a collective with a focus on the belief that a world free from inequality, violence and oppression is possible, and that each of us accepts a responsibility to contribute to that change. 

These workshops created an open platform for people to share their experiences and learn about conflict transformation in an environment that was respectful and welcoming of debate. Feedback from all participants spoke to a valuable learning experience and many thanked ASC for the opportunity, describing their journey as life changing, empowering and inspiring. 

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Fri, 06 Jun 2014 10:39:03 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=83
ASC Visits Soweto LPC http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=82 Local Peace Committee reports discontent in community over prepaid meters and the abuse of pensioners through illegitimate eviction orders

On the 30th of April ACTION Support Centre visited Soweto Local Peace Committee, which is chaired by Ms. Thandi Sangwani. The Chairperson and her committee welcomed ACTION Support Centre.  

The aim of the visit was to follow up and strengthen the relationship between ACTION and Soweto LPC, one of several LPCs in Gauteng.  

Ms. Thandi shared some concerns over her communities to ACTION’s representatives. She reported that the Sowerto Local Peace Committee faces various challenges in the community of Soweto. The first issue was about the pre-paid water and electricity meters. The failure of Johannesburg Water and Eskom to consult before installing pre-paid meters has sparked widespread discontentment amongst the community. Another issue discussed was the abuse of pensioners by the corrupted bank officials and police officers who intimidate and evict older people from their houses, claiming to have bought these houses. As a result they are planning a march in June 2014 to the Department of housing and Johannesburg water and Eskom. 

ACTION re-affirmed its commitment to support the Soweto Local Peace Committee, and also praised them for their dedication to serving their community. With regards to the issues raised, ACTION has promised to assist them in engaging with relevant authorities in order to bring clarity on these matters.

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Fri, 06 Jun 2014 10:31:27 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=82
African Day Celebration and the African Solidarity Caravan Launch http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=81 African Day Celebration and the African Solidarity Caravan Launch

A series of events: 

All Media Invited 

21 May 2014

Public Dialogue: Reflections on 20 years of Democracy in South Africa; Lessons for Struggles Around the Continent, Thursday 22 May Yeoville Recreation Centre, 9am-3pm



African Solidarity Caravan Launch: Building and Sustaining the African Renaissance Vision, Friday -23, Yeoville Recreation Centre, 10am-1pm



Africa Day Public Cultural Festival: Reflections and Celebration of the African Day of Liberation, Sunday 25 May, Open field, Cnr Bedford Rd and Hunter Street, Yeoville, 9am-5pm

For more information and detailed programme for all events feel free to contact:

Philani Ndebele, Campaigns Manager, ACTION Support Centre

+27 76 942 3565, philani@asc.org.za

Lerato Mohlamenyane, Project Officer, ACTION Support Centre, +27 79 792 0846, lerato@asc.org.za

The ACTION Support Centre, through its initiative the Proudly African Campaign would like to invite all the media to a series of events to be held in Yeoville to Launch the African Solidarity Caravan. These include a Public Dialogue on 22 May, the Caravan Launch on 23 May, and a Public Street Festival on 25 May.

The events seek to deepen a culture of Pan-African people-to-people solidarity, including building and sustaining connections between all Africans, leaders at all level, conflict transformation, peacebuilding and solidarity activists from across the world, through the exchange of creative and innovative ideas, knowledge, information, skills and experience.

The Public Dialogue will bring together leaders, grassroots activists and individuals from across the continent to reflect and discuss contemporary socio-economic and political issues. This will also involve developing strategies to address Africa’s numerous challenges and finding practical ways of tapping into the potential for the re-awakening of Africa.

The celebration of 20 years of democracy in South Africa offers an opportunity to reflect and draw lessons that can begin to inform and shape struggles for freedom around the continent and the rest of the world. It will also be an opportunity to make a clarion call for the immediate release of the 200 or more Nigerian girls abducted, and all political activists imprisoned in Swaziland.

The official launch of the African Solidarity Caravan will mark the beginning of a series of events that will be hosted by local network across the continent, culminating in a Peace and Human Security Festival that will engage the Africa Union through the Chair Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. This will also include a submission of a People’s Declaration, outlining the urgent needs of the African people.

The Public Street Festival will include live performances from local artists, poetry, drama, traditional dances, music, great African food, solidarity speeches, keynote address and many other forms of revelry.

The ACTION Support Centre is the Africa’s regional hub of a global network of individuals, organisations, movements and networks that are committed to positive action to transform conflict.

The Proudly African Campaign seeks to ignite exchange and implementation of creative and innovative knowledge, ideas, skills and experience that contribute to the Renaissance of Africa.

For more information: www.proudlyafrican.mobi, www.actionsupportcentre.co.za and www.asc.org.za

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Wed, 21 May 2014 15:03:15 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=81
Africa Day Celebration Invitation http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=80 African Solidarity Caravan

Reflect, Connect, Strategise, Organise, Mobilise, Transform, Consolidate, Celebrate


Deepening a culture of Pan-African people-to-people solidarity! Africa Day Celebration! 

Invitation  

The  ACTION  Support  Centre  through its initiative the Proudly AfriCan Campaign invites  you  to  the African Solidarity Caravan series  of events: a Public Dialogue, Solidarity Caravan Launch and a Public Street Festival. The African  Solidarity  Caravan  seeks to deepen the connections between leaders at all levels, conflict transformation, peacebuilding and solidarity activists throughout Africa through a series of solidarity events hosted by local networks. The African Solidarity Caravan aims to  involve everybody, including africans across the continent and in the diaspora and all people around the world committed to the vision of a world of justice and peace in which all the basic needs of people are met and  peoples’  rights  and  dignity  are  respected.  The Caravan also seeks to deepen a culture of Pan-African people-to-people solidarity. 

Date: 22 - 25 May 2014


Time: 9am - 3pm


Public Dialogue [Thursday -22], Yeoville Recreation Centre


Solidarity Caravan Launch [Friday -23], Yeoville Recreation Centre


Public Cultural Festival [Sunday -25], Open field, Cnr Bedford Rd and Hunter Street, Yeoville 

We would be delighted if you could join us. Kindly complete all the fields on the RSVP form.

Click here to RSVP 

Click here to download the African Solidarity Caravan Brochure  

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Wed, 14 May 2014 17:25:34 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=80
Concerned Africans Group Discussion on ICC http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=79 ASC members participated in the Concerned Africans Group discussion on the International Criminal Court led by Professor Alexander Mezyaev, Head of the Department of International Law at the University of Management TISBI, Kazan, Russia. Professor Mezyaev worked as an Assistant to Counsel at the International Criminal Court and provided a fascinating set of insights into the current modus operandi of the ICC. 

At a time when there are clear tensions between the ICC and Africa, and within the context of the current ICC cases against African leaders and alleged perpetrators of violence, the discussion was particularly pertinent. 

Professor Mezyaev presented a compelling set of arguments that suggest that the ICC is being used to subvert the notion of international justice into an instrument that is being used to entrench the ability of more powerful nations to interfere in the domestic affairs of African countries in particular. His argument that Africa is being used as a testing ground for the application of this distorted justice framework has significant implications for the peacebuilding and human rights sectors of civil society, especially in terms of how we respond to the critiques and concerns of African governments.

The challenge for all of us is how to ensure that what appear to be legitimate concerns regarding the ICC do not become the pretext for a complete dismissal of the overwhelming need for a global governance and justice system that can hold leaders accountable for actions that deny citizens the human and peoples rights afforded them under the Universal Declaration, international treaties and agreements, and our own African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. The ACTION Support Centre will remain engaged on these issues as the debate continues.


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Mon, 12 May 2014 15:23:38 +0200 http://www.asc.org.za/latestnews.php?d=79