Help Build Peace in South Africa
"Annie is a great inspiration to us all because she has chosen significance above personal comfort and has inspired me and many others to rediscover our own courage to think bigger and to believe that peace is possible even when it seems so unlikely at times. It is my hope the Rev Annie Kirke will be able to continue her most critical work here in South Africa as we continue on our long journey towards reconciliation and justice."
- Prof John Volmink, former acting Vice-Chancellor, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT)
Help build peace in South Africa
3 years ago I moved from London to Cape Town to begin a new role as Assistant Minister at Christ Church Kenilworth and my life as a pioneer began in a new country and context. I have now been seconded in a self-supporting role to a coalition I helped to start called More Than Peace.
Thanks to several generous donations from friends at Christ Church, I have been able to financially support myself for the last six months. In order to continue to pursue and develop this vital work I am now needing to grow my support base and am writing to friends and family to see if you would consider supporting me through a donation of £5, £10 or £20 per month?
I would be incredibly grateful and thrilled if you would partner with me as I enter this next phase of my journey in South Africa and the opportunity that More Than Peace has to develop trust and relationships across historical divides, transform injustice, and build sustainable peace.
I will be in touch with my bank details if you decide to support me in this work.
My story so far
A couple of months after I arrived in July 2015 saw the inception of the national student-led movement, ‘#FeesMustFall’, calling for free, decolonised, Afro-centric education, an end to the outsourcing of catering, security, cleaning and ground staff, and the cancellation of outstanding student debts. The speed and intensity of the escalation, the nature of the response by private security and police, which included physical violence and rubber bullets, led to widespread trauma and a total shutdown on many campuses.
In response to the escalating conflict and violence, a group of us founded ‘More Than Peace’: a coalition of churches and like-minded organisations committed to working in practical ways towards the establishment of peace and social justice in South Africa.
More Than Peace played a key role in mediating conflicts on Western Cape campuses between 2015 and 2017. This included:
1. Training 300 Peace Justice Witnesses (observers) who were deployed around the clock during the height of the conflict. Their role was threefold; to act as impartial observers, to diffuse tensions and, when violence erupted, to provide a key witness to what unfolded. Our reports resulted in the de-commissioning of militarised private security at two WC universities.
2. Mediation: More Than Peace nediators and church leaders facilitated multi-stakeholder negotiations between university management, FeesMustFall Activists, leaders of student formations, and worker’s unions and representatives, resulting in peace agreements and the formation and facilitation of Rapid Response Task Teams (RRTT) to implement the details of the peace agreements at two universities
3. Church Leaders: More Than Peace briefed and mobilised church leaders who engaged with university management, students and other stakeholders providing pre-mediation and post-mediation support. These dialogues were key in ripening the opportunity for multi-stakeholder dialogues and resolution.
"I remember hearing gunshots all the way from my residence in Rosebank as a result of a brutal onslaught happening at the hands of private security at upper campus...When the police failed to resolve the situation; and to prevent further injury and damage to property, More Than Peace observers stood in between us, the police and used their bodies as a vanguard in an attempt to engage UCT militia to stand-down...
...As a result of their work with us and UCT management, negotiations resumed on the 10th of October. I must hail them for their professionalism and accountability in the mediation process. They proved to be a legitimate and objective voice of reason, one which was both appealable and trusted by both sides during a time of severe trust deficits manifesting from all sides – even amongst leaders of the movements themselves. "
- Sinoxolo, UCT Shackville leader.
This success seen in these university conflicts meant that when community conflicts over land rights subsequently began in 2017 and continued to escalate in 2018, More Than Peace was invited to assist by leaders across some of these communities.
The scale of unrest in the Western Cape is continuing to rise with 145 protests and land occupations reportedly occurring in the first 4 months of 2018. The Municipality's Anti-Land Invasion Unit has confirmed demolishing 26,000 newly erected homes in this period.
More Than Peace has been invited to facilitate negotiations between communities and government officials, train communities in both media relations and legal rights concerning evictions, train Peace Justice Witnesses to help diffuse tensions and provide impartial observations, and support a non-violent, multi-stakeholder response to the enduring pain of injustice.
'Annie is playing a significant role in helping the church push into addressing the many areas of social injustice and stress in our context with passion sensitivity courage and grace. Please support her and enable her to continue the key work she has begun.'
Rev Duncan McLea, Senior Rector Parish of St John's, Wynberg
In response to both the work so far and my own personal sense of calling and commitment to restorative justice and peace-building, I was seconded from Christ Church to More Than Peace in my role as Coalition Catalyst in February 2018 tasked with developing our capacity and wider network of partnerships to take forward our shared vision and create lasting impact for change.
To develop this vital work I am now needing to grow my support base and am writing to friends and family to see if you would consider supporting me through a donation of £5, £10 or £20 per month? I will be in touch with my bank details if you decide to support me in this work.
But before I sign off, I'd rather you didn't just take my word for it! Here's what some of my team and those whom More Than Peace have supported would like to share with you:
A letter from the Directors of More Than Peace
Sinoxolo Boyi, UCT Shackville leader
Prof. John Volmink, former Acting Vice Chancellor, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT)
Derek Ronnie, Mediator (More Than Peace)
McDonald Phambaniso, Church Pastor, Vrygrond Community
Keegan Davids, Director of Pioneering, St John's Leadership Academy
Please do stay in touch via our Facebook page where you can receive our regular updates:
Thank you friends!