I usually anticipate spring so that I can take a leisurely drive along the West Coast to see the wonders of nature revealing its greatness. Flowers and fields with dancing images of lightness allow us to witness the metaphors of life. We had a drought that forced us to change our lifestyles and increased our appreciation for the sanctity of water. Then we were unseasonally blessed with rains. As the dams filled, so did our hope for a brighter future. The environment is our teacher and messages of renewal have come to greet us.
Springtime is an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to building sustainable peace. The universe has assembled all those who have ears to hear and those who have eyes to see and those who have hands to carve out a new road to harmony. Yes, there is a profound stirring of the spirits within the collective consciousness of our universe.
Lights to shatter the darkness have multiplied and from different corners of our planet people are coming to Cape Town to contribute to the dream of a peaceful Cape Flats. American Jody Williams, a Peace Nobel Laureate will be in Cape Town to work with people from all different parts of South Africa but especially those from the Cape Flats. She is an inspirational figure in the world of peace and her presence is a huge boost for the work of peace on the ground in South Africa.
The stars are aligned and at the same time that Williams will be in Cape Town, the Archdiocese of the Catholic Church for Cape Town, is preparing for the biggest roll of its Catholic Peace Ambassador programme across all the communities of the Western Cape where Catholic parishes exist. Father Wim Lindeque, the Head of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Church informed me that tomorrow, there’ll be a special meeting of the commission to strategically look at increasing the impact of peace and justice.
I was blessed to be present at a meeting in May with his Grace, Archbishop Stephen Brislin who gently reminded us there must be a multiplication of peace building. Archbishop Brislin echoes the words of Pope Francis who stated that “Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope!”
Father Jonathan of the Hanover Park parish, which is in the heart of one of the worst war zones on the Cape Flats, is leading the Catholics there to be directly engaged in peace, faith and action in the community. In this leadership role, he is assisted by Father Tumelo who has become part of the Peace Ambassadors network in the parish.
Every second Tuesday, a group of parishioners meet to discuss the work of peace they are performing within the community. Lucinda Paulse, one of the co-ordinators of the Peace Ambassadors, stated very few people know how nerve-racking it is to live in a war zone.
Philippi East police station services the Hanover Park community, and has the fifth worst statistics for murder in South Africa and falls within the top 30 for attempted murder. The SAPS released information last month. Philippi East recorded 749 people murdered over the past five years: from 87 people in 2015. Each year it increased until this year, with 185 people. This suggests that on average 15 people were murdered every month in Hanover Park in the last reporting period. Statistics for the Western Cape: 3974 murders, and this translates to 305 murders every month.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde announced an ambitious Western Cape safety plan last month. Premier Winde has a vision. Thousands are mobilising now in this season for peace.
It is our time. It is our moment and it is our duty to actively become our own liberators. Every day do small things that bring peace. This is what springtime is all about… a demonstration of the power of rebirthing. It is from the pain of oppressive violence that we must emerge to become the flowers of peace and show the greatness of our nobility in the universe as children of peace.
Brian Williams is visiting professor in peace, mediation and labour relations: University of the Sacred Heart, Gulu in Uganda. Chief executive: Williams labour law and mediation. Thought Leader Award Recipient for 2018 (Black Management Forum).