Youth group promotes peace

2016-03-09 06:00
PHOTO: supplied People in harmony at the recent xenophobia awareness campaign at UKZN.

PHOTO: supplied People in harmony at the recent xenophobia awareness campaign at UKZN.

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AT the launch of the International Peace Youth Group (IPYG) Xenophobia Awareness Campaign at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Kotelo Mpiana (23), from Democratic Republic of Congo, a victim of xenophobia last year, spoke out.

At the time when xenophobic attacks were rife in the city Mpiana, who was in school then, was living with her parents and six siblings in Prince Alfred Street.

“I left school a bit later than I usually do that day and when I got into the street it was oddly quiet and all the shops were closed. I didn’t know about anything that was happening in the city regarding xenophobic attacks,” said Mpiana.

When she got home she found her family in a panic and they decided to stay at home the next day for fear of their lives.

“At about 10am that day a group of people came to our home and told us to go back to our country saying that they will kill us if we don’t leave. We were forced to leave our house because we were so scared,” said Mpiana. They then moved to Napierville.

She said the reason her family moved from the DRC was because of the violence and they wanted to live in peace and harmony in South Africa.

“That’s what was so upsetting - we moved so we would avoid violence and then had to experience threats on our lives here, in a place where we thought we would be safe.”

Mpiana said the experience changed the way she viewed the country and the city because people whom she thought were her friends suddenly became enemies.

“When you are a victim all you feel is anger because you are scared and you don’t know who is going to attack you.”

Mpiana is studying civil engineering at FET in Edendale, and joined IPYG to make a positive impact on society and promote peace.

At the event four schools - Kharina Secondary, Sobantu Secondary, Nizamia Islamic, and Silver Secondary - came together to join the campaign in line with Pietermaritzburg Peace Youth Group’s aim, which is to bring together people from different societies, religions and races for the purpose of promoting peace using arts and culture.

The programme will encourage awareness drives in public areas and schools in order to inform people about rising up and spreading peace, not conflict.

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