Nobel laureate visits PeaceJam

Enjoying painting, from left, Georgia Thomas, Jayde Moses and Gabeebah Solomon, all from Ocean View.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Betty Williams visited the Chrysalis Academy in Tokai as part of the PeaceJam conference held in Cape Town the weekend.

She also gave an address at the Desmond Tutu Peace Lecture as part of the PeaceJam youth conference. This is always held at the University of the Western Cape, but, due to student protests, the venue was changed to Artscape.

Janine Turner, education officer at Chrysalis, said PeaceJam had become an important part of the Chrysalis programme and many of their youth at risk attended the event.

And it was fitting that on the day following his birthday, a mural of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was painted in one of the halls at the academy. The portrait was painted by Khayelitsha freelance artist Lwanda Lese who then invited youth to add to his work.

As they added handprints and messages, Ms Williams, who now lives in Galway, Ireland, and was travelling with her daughter, Deborah, and granddaughter, Brianna, spoke to me.

Asked if this is her first time in South Africa, she said she first came 20 years ago when Archbishop Tutu invited her to the fourth PeaceJam which was held on Robben Island. Archbishop Tutu has been patron of the organisation since its inception.

South Africa’s co-ordinator of the PeaceJam chapter in South Africa, Earl Mentor, said the foundation was formed in Colorado, America.

“The aim of the organisation is to develop young leaders committed to positive change in themselves, their communities, and the world through the inspiration of Nobel Peace Laureates who pass on the spirit, skills, and wisdom they embody,” he said.

Ms Williams, born in 1943, in Belfast, in Northern Ireland, was a co-recipient with Mairead Corrigan of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her work as a co-founder of Community of Peace People, an organisation dedicated to promoting a peaceful resolution to the troubles in Northern Ireland. PeaceJam currently operates in 39 countries.

For more information, visit www.peacejam.org