Resolving conflict through mediation and dialogue dominated the Durban Leadership session held by ICON and ACCORD in partnership with the DUT Journalism Programme at the University’s City Campus recently.
DUT based ICON (International Centre for Non Violence) seeks ways of developing a culture of nonviolence. The organisation challenges imbalances of power based on race, gender and other identities and entails that the inequalities of wealth in society be addressed. ACCORD (African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes) is a South African based civil society organisation working throughout Africa to bring creative African solutions to the challenges posed by conflict on the continent.
At the event, ICON and ACCORD students held open discussions and held presentations on their migrant projects. One of the groups conducted a survey of the refugees in the Isipingo refugee camp just before the recent outbreak xenophobic violence while some foreign students from DUT spoke about their experiences of being transnational migrants and how they battled to make friends with local South Africans.
Dr Jairam Reddy, Chair of the DUT Council, spoke about the importance of peaceful resolution of conflict as well as the promotion of mediation and effective peacemaking tools in Africa.
Renowned sports photographer, Anesh Debiky, showed pictures of displaced foreigners in the Chatsworth refugee camp. Being the only photographer given permission to go into the camps, Debiky wanted to use his work to help South Africans understand the fate that foreigners had been dealt as result of the xenophobic attacks. “The real value of these photos is to show how the people are trying to have a normal life with their families despite being at the camp,” he said, adding that even though the refugees were in such a predicament, they were overwhelmed with all the help and warmth given to them by volunteers, various organisations and individuals.
Also shown at the event was the documentary: The Burning Man which depicts the life of Mozambique’s Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuve who was set on fire by an angry mob in 2008.
Professor Anthony Collins from the University’s Journalism Programme spoke about the disturbing pictures in the newspapers which depicted xenophobia and the manner in which it showed the violence. Prof Collins also expressed concern in how the media failed to understand what the violent images were really about. “The documentary avoids sensationalising of the well known images and instead provides a sensitive exploration of Nhamuve himself. So some documentary filmmakers decided to not just stop at these images and really try and reconstruct the story of the person behind these images. This documentary tries to rehumanise the story behind the images. We are trying to work against hate crimes and to get us to understand and respect one other,” he said.
The screening was followed by a brief discussion on the xenophobic attacks and why it is important that it (xenophobia) is fully understood for the country to come to grips with it.
– Waheeda Peters
Pictured: Renowned sports photographer, Anesh Debiky, speaking about his pictures of displaced foreigners taken at the Chatsworth refugee camp.