The PeaceJam 2019 conference last weekend was a town-to-town non-stop peace tour to promote harmony in South Africa – with Ocean View’s community preparing something extra special for their leg of the trip.
The PeaceJam Foundation is a worldwide organisation that was founded in 1996, which launched a movement where Nobel Peace Laureates unite to mentor the youth in the hope of changing the world.
The conference was held on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 October, with the bulk of its activities taking place at Chrysalis Academy in Tokai. The youth leadership conference saw South African leaders engage with the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Jody Williams from the USA, on a range of topics to address development, social justice, the community, empowerment and solving pressing issues.
For Ocean View residents, that pressing issue is crime and gang-violence.
The community was activated earlier this year by the late Aden Adams, who was just one of the many residents who want to reclaim the neighbourhood.
Sunday 20 October marked a year since Adams died. “He was the inspiration for this wall – he wanted to take back the streets of Ocean View from the gangsters so the kids could play,” said Alison Geduldt, one of the organisers who have facilitated the painting of the 50 metre wall at the park on Arries Avenue.
A resident, Marius Waries, assisted his close friend, Adams, to begin work on the wall which was painted in bright colours and hearts. “We involved the kids and invited mothers who could write the names of their lost ones on the wall. We wanted PeaceJam to come here and we wanted the Peace Laureate winner to put her hands on it too,” Geduldt explained.
Waries added: “In memory of my late friend, we always wanted Central Park to be involved with sports and recreation.”
After approaching the local church to do some mural art on the wall, the concept took a different shape, to empower residents who had lost loved ones to crime. “Then we brought in the youth to occupy all these spaces with music and arts and dance,” he said.
Earl Mentor, a PeaceJam South Africa facilitator, explained why the conference visited the community as part of their service project. “We supported a community initiative in Ocean View, mobilising the community against the negative social ills. We, at PeaceJam, facilitate compassion and empathy to bring about positive change. And it’s in memory of a legend who passed away – a guy who stood for the community for a very long time – and we’re just continuing his legacy.”
Geduldt said Adams left a long to-do list for the community to work on, to facilitate peace-making in the gang-torn community, and there are more projects to come.