On 21 December 2019, over 300 children from the Atlantis community participated in a peace walk and community clean up at the Dura Park, as a symbol of goodwill and peace over festive season.
The event was hosted by the City of Cape Town, in collaboration with International Peace Youth Group (IPYG), International Women’s Peace Group (IWPG), local NGO’s and the community of Atlantis to promote the achievement of the AU’s flagship project of Silence the Guns through the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW).
Atlantis, a community where murder and gang violence is the norm, is one of the communities contributing to South Africa’s murder rate being on the same level as a low-intensity civil war. With over 279 of the 985 child murders reported nationally from 2017/8 occurring in the Western Cape, Atlantis is counted as one of the most dangerous places for children to live in the world.
Barbara Rass, Ward Councilor for Atlantis said, “ We are here today in Dura Park because we cannot let fear and violence rule us. Each one has the responsibility to learn the DPCW and then create peace. The peace trees that we plant today will be here to remind us in years to come that we have the responsibility and the power to create a community living in peace and with goodwill towards each other. ”
Since February 2019, IPYG together with hundreds of thousands of youth from across the world have been participating in projects aimed at achieving practical peace, including a peace letter campaign where learners submitted handwritten peace letters to Heads of State urging them to support the DPCW at the United Nations as a practical solution to achieving peace in our generation.
After receiving over 5000 handwritten letters, South African President, His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa, responded to several children’s cries for peace from across the country. In a letter written to scholar Musa Mokgweetsi from Port Elizabeth, Ramaphosa responded as follows: “Like you, I wish to live in a South Africa and a world where we don’t fight among ourselves, where we don’t allow drugs to take hold in our communities and where we are all at peace with each other. South Africa is an active and proud member of the United Nations and we will join other nations in considering and debating the DPCW when it is presented in the UN.”
President Ramaphosa joins Seychelles, eSwatini, Comoros, Antigua and Barbuda and Mozambique who have responded to the peace letters in committing to join with other nations in considering the DPCW when it is presented at the United Nations in 2020.
As South Africa takes over the Chairmanship of the African Union in February 2020 as well as remaining a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, supporting projects such as the DPCW at the UN will be important in setting the example and leading Africa and the world into the generation of peace all people are longing for.