Africa Unite, an organisation that was formed specifically to fight xenophobia and also to empower the youth economically, has come up with a winning project.
The Skills Sharing Program is aimed at creating a platform where skilled foreign nationals will share their experience and expertise with local unemployed youth in order to encourage them to start their own businesses, instead of waiting for government handouts.
The program is also designed to create a friendly environment for youth, thus reducing the chances of xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals.
It has already borne fruit with 10 youngsters from Gugulethu, Nyanga and Fish Hoek completing a week-long tree crafting course last week.
The tree-crafting training programme saw the youth making trees out of wire and other wooden artwork. It was conducted by Moustapha Fal, from Senegal, who has been making a living out of creating and selling African art since he arrived in the country in 2008.
He lived in Europe prior to immigrating into South Africa.
“I have never looked for a job. I make a living out of my craft. I mostly use recyclable material and create African art. I would like to share my skills with other people who are interested in making craft.
I know what I am doing and I like my work. Tourists like my work a lot and they buy it,” Fall said.
He first sold his craft at Green Market Square, in the city, but he was soon ordered to move-out by the City of Cape Town after other sellers complained that he was stealing their customers.
He then went to sell in Hout Bay, and there he was met with the same complaints.
Fall is now selling his work at Big Bay beach, in Blouberg.
Bongiswa “Mantombie” Mbuyazwe, 24, from KTC, was one of the youth who benefited from the training.
Mbuyazwe said she is going to use the skill to empower herself to start her own business.
“Now I can make a tree with wires, wooden craft and also beads. I will also transfer my skill to other youth in my area. I feel very happy for being part of the training. I have learnt a lot of things.
The program will help in creating harmonious relationship between South Africans and foreign nationals and also make us respect each other,” she said.
The trees are sold at R250 or less depending on the size of the tree.
Zethu Sinxeke, peer educator at AU, said the program is going to help in fighting xenophobic attacks.
“We plan to organise the workshops frequently.
This is going to benefit the youth and also create social cohesion. We targeted unemployed youth so they will be able to start their own businesses,” Sinxeke said.
Africa Unite (AU) is a human rights and youth empowerment organisation that works with citizens, refugees and migrants to prevent conflicts, enhance social cohesion and promote socio-economic development.
It was formed in 2001 in response to violence against asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in New Crossroads and Nyanga.
Initially part of IDASA (the Institute for Democracy in South Africa) AU became an autonomous, registered organisation in 2004.