South Africans are doing their bit in championing a conflict-free continent, with more than 1,500 people gathering at the weekend to march for peace.
The peace walk, hosted by the International Peace Youth Group (IPYG) in Cape Town, was part of the fifth annual Commemoration of the Declaration of World Peace, initiated in South Korea. The Korean Peninsula has technically been at war since 1950.
In Cape Town the commemoration, which has taken place in the city since 2016, paid homage to the African Union’s 2020 vision of a gun-free Africa. In light of Africa Day, held on May 25, this year’s theme was Resolving Conflicts and Spreading a Culture of Peace, through the implementation of an international peace law called the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW).
“As the youth of South Africa, we show our full support for the African Union’s goal of silencing the guns by 2020,” said IPYG media representative Noluvuyo Bacela.
Senior Programme Officer at the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, Mrs Karishma Rajoo, emphasised Article 2 of the DPCW when she addressed the crowd. She said it was time the world sought responses that are not solely military oriented, and countries should be interested in situations that do not directly affect them as well.
“There is more money being spent on the military today than there is in seeking solutions to the world’s problems. In fact, more than 100 billion dollars is spent annually on nuclear weapons. We only have to look at the headlines today in order to see that these weapons are not making the world safer,” she said.
Many African nations have been ravaged by war and the continent continues to witness security threats that jeopardise the economic and social well-being of citizens. Undemocratic and corrupt rule in many of the continent’s countries have driven conflict. In West Africa’s Sahel region, including Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, clashes have been sustained by poor governance, food insecurity and terrorist activity.
IPYG’s advocacy focuses on the DPCW as a catalyst for peace. Article 2 of the DPCW falls in line with the African Union’s goal to eradicate armed conflicts on the continent, Bacela said.
Soraya Salie, the founder of the Bonteheuwel Walking Ladies club and International Women’s Peace Group peace ambassador, said the event had grown annually since it was first held in Cape Town.
“It’s the biggest event we’ve had,” she said. “I want to give my message to the world, especially to world leaders, to embrace the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War so that we can live in a world of peace, love and harmony.”
The Declaration of World Peace was launched by an organisation affiliated with IPYG on May 25, 2013 in Seoul, South Korea. It was followed by a peace walk, in which 30,000 youths from 140 countries participated. This year the event sought to create awareness around the concepts outlined in the DPCW, as the recent inter-Korean summit saw the leaders of South and North Korea take steps towards the denuclearisation of the peninsula.
In Cape Town civil society, youth leaders and government officials walked together through the city centre and past the Korean War Memorial, promoting peace. The congregation was accompanied by a marching band and other colourful performers.
“This is love and peace you see all around us over here. This is what Africa should be like every day. This is what we should teach our kids,” said Bradley Smith, father of two, who attended the walk.