An appeal from Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge: Please support the South Africa conference

Dear friends,

People power in South Africa – mass nonviolent direct action –

helped end the scourge of apartheid and vicious, politically-sanctioned racism.

Today, twenty years since our first democratic elections, South Africa still faces many problems - including street violence, small arms, xenophobia, economic injustice – and opposition to these ills are mounting, with civil society again using creative, unarmed methods. Throughout the continent, we see increasing militarism too often supported by powerful politicians, and this year’s South African elections suggest that people all over are tired of business as usual.

It is in this context that we are welcoming War Resisters' International to Cape Town, for the first ever WRI International Conference in Africa.

We'd like your help to make this possible.

An African conference

On 11 February 1990, only hours after his release from Robben Island, Nelson Mandela made his first public speech after leaving prison from the balcony of the City Hall in Cape Town.

This July, the same venue will bring together over 200 grassroots nonviolent activists from Asia, Latin America, Oceania and the Pacific, North America and Europe – and particularly from Africa.

Each of us will learn and teach.

Our topic – the continuum of nonviolence – recognises that all forms of violence are interconnected: from intimate partner violence, urban violence and transphobic attacks in schools, through to political repression of poor communities, resource extraction from indigenous land, corporate economic exploitation - and war. Feminism gave birth to the phrase the ‘continuum of violence’ to describe this spectrum, and movements for peace and liberation challenge the continuum in many different ways; nonviolence means to challenge violence where ever it occurs, and to build a nonviolent world in the shell of the old. Resisting the spectrum of violence, and building more connected spectrums of nonviolence,are the themes of our conference.

At Embrace Dignity we work on gender equality, and especially to end prostitution and sex trafficking: one part of the spectrum of violence. We are bringing this experience to help in planning the 'Small Actions, Big Movements' programme, along with WRI and other South Africa partners.

A WRI International Conference being hosted in Africa for the very first time provides huge opportunities for African perspectives and experiences to be shared – and to influence and inspire the WRI network in the rest of the world.

This will happen especially through the involvement of the Pan-African Nonviolence and Peacebuilding Network (formed in 2012), which I convene. The network was founded at a Johannesburg nonviolence training exchange co-run by WRI in 2012. It will come together before and after the conference in meetings to strengthen our joint working, and ensure we develop in a way that is sustainable and long-lasting, as well as contributing in many ways to the conference itself.

This is where you come in.

If you cannot come to the conference yourself, please give to WRI to enable them to pay for the conference and associated Pan-African Nonviolence and Peacebuilding Network meetings to happen: your support could make possible the participation of African activists, pay for interpreters so that people of many different mother tongues can participate fully in the conference, and cover all the other things– like food, and photocopying – which no conference can do without.

For us in the Pan-African Nonviolence and Peacebuilding Network, July is a critical time in which African grassroots social movements will come together in the struggle against violence and war, and go away empowered and ready for future challenges.

Your help is very much appreciated.

Yours sincerely,

Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge

Co-convener, African Nonviolence and Peacebuilding Network

Executive Director of Embrace Dignity

P.S. Please give today so we know that we have enough funds to run this important conference in South Africa.

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