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Using sport to forward peace in conflicting communities

Author: Xolisile Mablayi (Experiential Learning)
Copyrights: Inkwenkwezi Youth Development Sporting Foundation

Using sport to forward peace in conflicting communities

On IDSDP 2021, Inkwenkwezi Youth Development organised games and sports between the youth of conflicting communities, and established the Ukhuselo Lwa-Bantwana Edu-Sport Safe Hub.

For over two decades now, the Prudhoe and AmaZizi communities in South Africa’s Eastern Cape have been at war over land ownership. Initially, the land was awarded to AmaZizi community. However, the Prudhoe community filed an appeal, and a new process to decide the rightful owners was instituted. Following countless appeals leading up to the Constitutional Court, the Prudhoe community was awarded the land in mid-2020.

This process has not been an easy one, and has left many emotional and mental scars on both communities. One consequence of the infighting has been that the football activities earmarked for the Prudhoe community were halted, since the football facilities are located in the AmaZizi community.

As an organisation headquartered in the Prudhoe community, we at Inkwenkwezi Youth Development thought that on the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, we should bring together the children of both the affected communities, through the medium of sport.

The first half of the day was dedicated to sporting and recreational activities, centred around the goals of peace and development. Young people from both communities participated in various sports and games organised by our game changer champions.

The second half of the day was designed to allow members of both communities to air their concerns and views, and to ask the children and youth their opinions on how a peaceful future can be achieved. This was facilitated by our director, Zani Dayimani, and was based on conceptualising a safe hub where the identified problems can be resolved.

Building a safe hub

Against this backdrop, we launched the Ukhuselo Lwa-Bantwana Edu-Sport Safe Hub. “Ukhuselo Lwa-Bantwana” is a Xhosa word meaning child protection or safeguarding. The youth and children that were present requested Inkwenkwezi Youth Development to advocate for and spearhead the establishment of the hub.

The Hub aims to base interventions on common challenges that hinder children and youth. Thus, we aim to advance their personal development to contribute to accumulative societal change, by drawing valuable lessons from the differences created by those before them.

The Safe Hub is based on a theoretical model of dealing with challenges that young people from these rural communities encounter on daily basis. The model maps out a journey co-designed with young people towards sustainable livelihoods.

Poverty, the lack of future prospects and socio-economic-political marginalisation shape the daily lives of many young people and are important structural causes for risky behaviours. Young people’s frustration results in a propensity for violence and unsafe behaviour.

Thus, the Safe Hub will focus on skills development, sport and development and job creation, while having entrepreneurship components. It will have quality after-school programmes for all groups, and will particularly focus on providing quality early childhood development in a safe and enabling environment.

Through this Safe Hub, we hope that the youth will have improved academic results, be more physically active, and lead sustainable lives where they do not indulge in risky behaviours, make better life choices. Youth can then lead positive and healthy lifestyles, where they are empowered and active, and participate in the socio-economic development of both themselves and of others trapped in similar situations.

The Hub is targeted at children and youth between the ages of 1 and 25 years. We hope to focus enrolment on women and girls, targeting 60% of the Hub’s children and youth to be girls and 40% to be boys. We also aim to include both able and disabled youth in our programmes, which are set in a rural context.

This article has been edited by the Operating Team

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