The dynamics, complexities and interconnectedness of conflict require an ongoing focus on building and strengthening the capacities of practitioners at grassroots level, and an awareness to also create crosscutting linkages between practitioners around the world. In its response to these complexities, SSC initiatives use a conflict transformation approach to facilitate training and learning processes with individuals, organisations and communities across the African continent. Programmes include the acclaimed Applied Conflict Transformation course and a range of regional capacity building initiatives, which seek to empower and develop individuals, communities and organisations. This programmatic work is also underpinned by a research component well articulated in the research piece, The People Shall Govern co- produced with the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
The gender dimensions of the ASC work takes into account that the conditions faced by women and men are different including their needs as well. Through years of working with conflict, we have learnt that women and men are affected different by conflict and that women play a significant role in transforming conflict. Therefore, empowering women is a central aspect of our work and we ensure full and effective participation of women in all our initiatives.
Engaging with Grassroots Communities
The Soweto, Orange Farm, Alexandra and Yeoville community engagement is one such initiative where ASC effectively involves the community and the municipality to interact and share information. ASC is influential in offering insights in matters of trade, crime, gender violence, and refugee issues.
SSC targets regions of rapid social, political and economic change, which face an unprecedented degree of complexity and challenge. Key to this approach is coordinating amongst the various civil society organisations to ensure a united approach is adopted rather than one of discord or competition.
Africa Insiders Mediation Platform (AIMP)
On a continental level, the Africa’s Insiders Mediation Platform (AIMP) is one initiative that has succeeded in this regard. Fourteen key insider mediation stakeholders met in November 2010 and July 2011, with the purpose of establishing a support base for African mediators working on conflict systems at multiple levels in order to strengthen their internal national mediation capacity and contribute to local ownership of the mediation outcomes. Participants from Botswana, Burundi, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe among others took part. AIMP is a dynamic approach to conflict transformation, building cooperation between mediators and sharing best practice across borders.
This approach of the SSC is a collaborative programme that facilitates interaction and dialogue among civil society organisations working towards the same course and serves as a means to learn and to adapt a more effective approach to the region’s divergent and fluctuating challenges.
Applied Conflict Transformation Course (ACT)
The Applied Conflict Transformation course is another valuable element of the SSC work. This course brings together practitioners from across the continent to share experiences and deepen their understanding of conflict transformation. The course is offered twice every year.
Regional Capacity Building (RCB)
The Regional Capacity Building (RCB) focuses on facilitated learning exchange workshops involving partners from Mozambique, Swaziland, South Africa and Zimbabwe. RCB include site visits to areas that are socially and politically significant. The RCB Project aims to strengthen and sustain solidarity linkages between organisations in an effort to create a sustainable culture of regional people to people solidarity using a conflict transformation approach.
Extended Learning Exchange Programme
The ASC Extended Learning Exchange Programme plays a significant role in mobilising communities around pressing issues, sharing and analysing information including developing a culture of community to community solidarity in South Africa.
The programme includes a Video Dialogue Series (VDS) that promotes the development of a collective transformative narrative through stimulating and challenging community debates.
Within the Extended Learning Exchange Programme is another element in the form of a 10-12 week learning programme that focuses on building and strengthening capacity of individuals, organisations, partners and diaspora to effectively respond to the challenges faced by communities. It also focuses on long-term approach to understanding and transforming conflict.
International African Solidarity Festival
The International African Solidarity Festival is taking place for the first time in November 2012 as a special event for ASC and the broader ACTION Global network. The event wil draw participants from all over the world to reflect, share ideas, cultures and information and network with one another. A solidarity cultural evening and thematic discussion sessions will form part of the events of the festival. ASC will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary during the same period.
The Proudly African Campaign
The Proudly African Campaign is an initiative by ASC, OSISA and a wide range of organisations and individuals across the African continent. The Proudly African Campaign is a continent wide campaign seeking to build vibrant communities of peace and diversity, through the involvement and support of individuals, communities and civil society organisations. The Campaign also focuses on strengthening forms of people driven strategies and ideas that unite African communites by promoting African cultures and heritage, celebrating Africa’s rich diversity, building proud communities and findind ways of building a collective identity that can be shared by Africans.
The Campaign has the following Patrons: Napo Masheane, Ntsiki Mazwai, Bishop Paul Verryn (all based in South Africa), Luyando Haangala (Zambia), Albert Nyati (Zimbabwe), Dineo Matlabe (Botswana) and Elemotho Gaalelekwe (Namibia).
Iam Not a Colour Campaign
Another unique piece of work ASC is involved in under the SSC banner is I Am Not A Colour Campaign. The need for the promotion of non-racialism has been identified by youth and different organisations in South Africa. At present six organisations have committed their time and human resources to promote non-racialism through dialogue and equal access for all. Key drivers include distributing materials in all of South Africa’s recognised languages, initiating intentional conversations around non-racialism and inviting interested organisations to partner.
Drums of Change
As part of the ASC PAD and SSC strategies, Drums of Change is a quarterly publication which seeks to narrow the gap between policy makers and local communities by making information accessible to all. Drums invites written contributions from partners and leading thinkers on current issues of relevance to the ASC networks. Drums is a platform for all those interested in promoting peace and development in Southern Africa and the continent more broadly. The publication seeks to include perspectives, challenges and developments coming from the ASC global partners and networks as well, delivering a balanced view of development happening in the global community.
Using Social Forums platforms through SSC, a series of human and refugee rights workshops have been conducted in Soweto, Orange Farm and Alexandra townships in Johannesburg. These learning exchanges have strengthened the capacity of people to take action against violence and conflict including xenophibia in their communities. The series culminated in the establishment of peace clubs comprised of community members dedicated to promoting a culture of non-violence.
World Social Forum (WSF)
ASC through SSC and STA engages with its partners in support of the solidarity, lobbying and advocacy agenda aimed at strengthening South African and Southern African civil society participation at the World Social Forum (WSF). Short, medium and long term goals centre around improving co-ordination around issues of common interest between organisations in the region i.e. socio-economic, governance, labour and political issues.
Southern Africa Social Forum
ASC through SSC is also actively actively involved in Southern Africa Social Forum (SASF). SASF objectives are to build a regional and sub-regional network around issues of social, political and economic justice and to provide a platform for social activists and civil society to engage with SADC.
Modus Operandi and Institute for Governance in Central Africa (IGAC) ASC
Through a strategic partnership with Modus Operandi and Institute for Governance in Central Africa (IGAC) ASC signed a memorandum of understanding with Modus Operandi, an independent institute associated with the University of Grenoble in France. In line with the memorandum, ASC contributes to the online training courses in conflict transformation coordinated by Modus Operandi and participate in a new initiative aimed at developing conflict transformation tools useful to practitioners and academics. This collaboration, with practitioners and peacebuilders from 9 different conflict contexts across the world, including Colombia, Guatemala, Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe, develops practical tools of analysis and planning that are made available online to all those working with conflict.
ASC has developed an integrated framework for humanitarian assistance, development and peacebuilding that is being discussed and further refined alongside tools aimed at assisting communities affected by natural resource conflict, gang warfare, ethnicity and political conflict, and a range of other forms of tension and violence. In the longer term ASC hopes to develop and nurture the relationship with Modus Operandi as part of its commitment to reducing the gap between academic institutes and community practitioners. This will include exploring opportunities for linking the Applied Conflict Transformation course to the online courses offered and moderated by Modus Operandi.
Connected to the collaboration with Modus Operandi is the ASC involvement in discussions with IGAC. IGAC is exploring establishing a Masters programme focused on Conflict Transformation and Management with the input of a collaborative stakeholder group. ASC participates in this group alongside representatives of civil society and academic institutions based in the Ivory Coast, Gabon, Cameroon, Senegal and France. Participation in this initiative assists in breaking down traditional Anglophone/Francophone boundaries on the continent and adds impetus to the efforts made by ASC to develop the reflective learning and academic research components of its own Skills and Strategies for change programme.
Learning from the Applied Conflict Transformation Studies Masters programme run by our sister institution in Cambodia will also feed into this initiative. Furthermore ASC is working closely with academic institutions as part of its commitment to reduce the gap between academia and community practitioners.
Conflict Transformation workshops
Conflict Transformation workshops form an integral part of SSC in ASC. Throughout every year ASC conducts peacebuilding workshops in South African communities and different African countries. ASC takes participants through a series of incremental steps, building knowledge through the introduction of new ideas and tools, and tapping into the collective experience of the groups.
These workshops establish a common language, shared understandings of key concepts and reflect on conflict analysis, strategy and planning. Furthermore, these workshops aim to utilise local experiences in shaping more sustainable and long-term initiatives and highlighting the relationship between local initiatives and the wider context.
Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO)
Through engagement with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, there are ongoing discussions aimed at generating support for a series of training aimed at establishing a Youth Brigade focused on international solidarity. This will including south-south exchange programme involving South Africa, Sudan and later on Somalia and Ethiopia
Through a Youth Leadership Initiative ASC is engaging prominent individuals from within the youth sector in a dialogue and exchange programme focused on developing a collective identity and transformative leadership.
ASC and Schools
Focusing on schools in Gauteng and Limpopo provinces, ASC is working in collaboration with the Department of Education to establish sustainable peace committees, monthly meetings and create an accessible platform to publicise the Bill of Rights to learners and communities.