In the dark days of early apartheid rule half a century ago, on 26 June 1955, over 3 000 representatives of resistance organisations made their way through police cordons to gather on a dusty square in Kliptown, then a freehold area 40km south of Johannesburg.Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown, Soweto, commemorates the signing of the Freedom Charter in 1955. (Image: Gauteng Film Commission)This was the Congress of the People, who met to draw up the Freedom Charter, an alternative vision to the repressive policies of the apartheid state.At the time, Nelson Mandela had to stay concealed to avoid the police. On the second day, the authorities broke up the gathering, but not before the charter was adopted as a guiding document. It remains the cornerstone of African National Congress (ANC) policy to this day, and is seen by many as the foundation of South Africa’s 1996 Constitution.That dusty field has now been declared a national heritage site, and on 26 June 2005 President Thabo Mbeki lit a flame of freedom in Kliptown to mark the opening of the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication – and 50 years of the Freedom Charter.R375m upgrade for KliptownConstruction of the Walter Sisulu Square began two years ago, spearheaded by development agency Blue IQ. The square will have a park, a marketplace with 700 stalls for traders, about 17 shops and offices, a multipurpose centre and a hotel.Unskilled labour has been used in the construction work, as have about 90 small, medium and micro enterprises, more than half of which were created to help the project.Kliptown, now part of Soweto, is a sprawling collection of settlements around 40km from the Johannesburg city centre, with a thriving informal business area where the people of Soweto do their shopping. Some 85% of the township consists of informal settlements.Established in 1903 and one of the oldest urban multiracial settlements in the Johannesburg area, Kliptown has long been neglected, and many of its old buildings are now dilapidated.With its history, it is hoped that Kliptown will become “a world-class tourist destination and heritage site offering local and international visitors a unique experience,” according to Blue IQ.The square and monument will form part of the Greater Kliptown Development Project, a massive effort to redevelop the area and make it more habitable and conducive to business.Some R375-million has been put aside for Kliptown’s revival, R293-million from Blue IQ and R30-million from the City of Johannesburg. Project areas include the upgrade of the Kliptown railway station, a market, the relocation of people in informal settlements, new houses, and a new 250-bay taxi rank, which is already complete.The Walter Sisulu SquareWalter Sisulu was a delegate at the 1955 Congress of the People, a major figure in the anti-apartheid struggle, deputy president of the ANC, underground activist and Rivonia treason trialist.Released from prison in 1989, he died in 2003, the year the R160-million Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication project was initiated. Its design was awarded to architects and urban designers StudioMAS.Today the construction of the north and south sides of two squares, one of which is the original square where people gathered to approve the charter, is at roof level.The complex consists of two long, narrow buildings encompassing the squares, with 10 columns on the eastern edge, representing the 10 clauses of the Freedom Charter.Not just a construction projectBut this is not just a construction project. Enormous effort has gone into relocating traders from Union Street, renovating their historic warehouses – in some cases they are more than 70 years old – and creating new functions for the buildings.Between the two squares, on the northern end, is a tall tower, the Freedom Charter Monument. Here a freedom flame was lit by Mbeki, providing a landmark beacon to surrounding suburbs.Opposite this tower, in the middle of the southern building, another tower is rising into the air. The base of this tower will contain a kwashisanyama, a place for preparing food.The north and south buildings will contain offices, banks, retail space, a tourism office, an art gallery and the community hall. The search is on to place a restaurant and boutique hotel in the buildings.Housing and wetlandsThe city and the province are committed to building 7 100 houses in the coming years – 5 700 RDP houses and 1 400 houses for rental. So far only four houses have been completed, and 1 195 stands have been given services, in preparation for building.Housing is a complex issue in Kliptown. The densely packed population of about 45 000 people needs to be systematically moved before houses can be built. In addition, electricity, water and sewage connections have to be installed.The nearby wetlands and parks have been cleared and cleaned, employing about 50 people, with a view to employing another 170 people.According to Blue IQ, the purpose of the Kliptown project is to redevelop this traditional apartheid-style buffer zone township between Johannesburg and Soweto into a desirable and prosperous residential and commercial locality.The aim is to use Kliptown’s rich history, as the meeting ground of the Congress of the People and the birthplace of the Freedom Charter, as a tool to boost tourism and transform the fortunes of the settlement.The Congress of the PeopleThe Congress of the People was a dramatic affair held over two days and attended by 3 000 delegates from all over the country, including 320 Indian, 230 coloured and 112 white South Africans.It came about through the efforts of the Congress Movement, which was made up of the ANC, the SA Indian Congress, the Coloured People’s Organisation (later the SA Coloured People’s Congress), and the Congress of Democrats – white South Africans who identified with the movement.“When the great day was upon us,” wrote one participant afterwards, “we set out on our journey to Kliptown, many of us travelling hundreds of miles, wondering what was going to happen. For it was not as if we had been allowed to campaign in peace. Every meeting was watched by the special branch, our organisers were hounded and arrested, documents seized in raids.“Cars and lorries were stopped, contingents held back on one or other pretext until it was too late to continue their journey. Yet in spite of all the harassment and interference, about 3 000 delegates pierced the police cordon and arrived at Kliptown, where a patch of open ground had been prepared to seat the huge throng.“Just imagine the problems of organisation – 3 000 delegates had to be fed and housed. But from every point of view the Congress was an outstanding success.”The various clauses of the charter were introduced, there was an opportunity for impromptu speeches from delegates present, and the clauses were then read out and acclaimed by a show of hands. The Isitwalandwe/Seaparankoe – the highest honour awarded by the ANC – was awarded to Chief Albert Luthuli, president of the ANC, Yusuf Dadoo and Father Trevor Huddleston.Only Father Huddleston was able to accept his award at the Congress of the People, as Luthuli and Dadoo were under banning orders and unable to attend.In the afternoon of the second day proceedings were brought to an sudden close by the arrival of a large detachment of police bearing sten guns.They took over the speakers’ platform, confiscated all the documents they could find, announced that they had reason to believe that treason was being plotted, and took the names and addresses of all delegates before sending them home.But the Freedom Charter was signed a year later by Luthuli, and has remained the central document in ANC policy ever since.Sources:City of JohannesburgSouth African History OnlineAfrican National CongressBlue IQWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? 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Rodrigue Katembo, a former child soldier in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been awarded an international environmental prize for his work as a park ranger and conservationist in the country’s Virunga National Park, Africa’s oldest wildlife park.Rodrigue Katembo won a 2017 Goldman environmental prize for his work protecting wildlife in Virunga and Upemba national parks. (Image: Virunga National Park)CD AndersonPark ranger and conservationist Rodrigue Katembo won the Goldman Environmental Prize in April 2017 for his work in preventing potentially damaging oil exploration in the park. In addition to mobilising Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) citizens to protest against the plans to drill for oil in Virunga, he also worked undercover to expose bribery and corruption of government officials by foreign oil companies.Environmental research has shown that oil exploration in the park would threaten the habitats of the region’s critically endangered gorilla, elephant and lion populations.The Goldman Prize, often referred to as the Green Nobel, is an annual award that recognises grassroots environmental activists in six regions around the world. The prize is awarded by the Goldman Environmental Foundation, based in San Francisco, USA.Virunga National Park is home to a quarter of the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas — there are fewer than 900 globally. Additionally, the park, which covers more than 5,000km2 across the DRC, Uganda and Rwanda, has several delicate ecosystems. (Image: Virunga National Park)Virunga is home to a quarter of the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas — there are fewer than 900 globally. Additionally, the park, which covers more than 5,000km2 across the DRC, Uganda and Rwanda, has several delicate ecosystems. These include volcanoes, forests, river and lake systems, as well as mountain regions that, if threatened and exploited by industry, would have detrimental environmental and societal effects on the entire region.“The park brings a lot of different kinds of services that are benefiting the community,” Katembo told CNN in April 2017. “For instance, you have the protected fisheries where many fishermen are able to sustain their families and are able to generate income.”In addition to dealing with infringing industry, Katembo and his small but dedicated team also have to tackle international poaching syndicates and political instability from various militia groups in the area. Over the last two decades, more than 160 park rangers have been killed in armed conflict with rebels and poachers.“[Park rangers] have paid the ultimate price for the protection of Virunga,” he said, adding that “they really fought with their heart to protect the park”.Life as a child soldierThe decades-long political conflict and civil war in the DRC is something with which Katembo is closely familiar. He was forced by a rebel militia group, as a teenager in 1989, to become a child soldier. He fought with various groups until 2003, when a brief peace gave him the opportunity to leave that life behind and follow a lifelong dream of working with wildlife.“Since I was very young, I really wanted to become part of the wildlife authority of Congo,” he told The Guardian in April 2017.The ranger work, however, proved equally dangerous. In 2013, while investigating government corruption that allowed the construction of oil drills in the park, Katembo was arrested and imprisoned for 17 days. Though he was eventually released, threats and intimidation — even failed assassination attempts — against him and other rangers continued.The Virunga documentaryThis struggle and the important work done by park rangers in the DRC was the focus of a Netflix documentary produced by actor/activist Leonard DiCaprio.Titled Virunga, the film follows rangers and conservationists in their struggle against the DRC government selling drilling rights in the park to British oil companies.Thanks to the park’s status as a Unesco Heritage Site, as well as the international attention from the documentary, all attempts to exploit the region for oil were ended in 2014, with both continued campaigns by Virunga rangers and the World Wildlife Fund successfully keeping oil exploration out of the park.Teaching the environmental importance of endangered regionsWinning that particular battle may have been Virunga’s most recognised success, but Katembo says it is the small victories, particularly in increasing the park’s animal population, that make him and his team the proudest. He told The Guardian: “The population of hippos in Virunga [went] from 500 to 1,700 in three to four years — that was a really important moment for me.”In his current position as director of the Upemba National Park, in southern DRC, he has overseen a new elephant population of 68 where once there were none.As director of Upemba, he continues to tackle the same challenges: poaching, political instability and corruption.Once again, Katembo and his Upemba team are also combating illegal mining intrusions, particularly for gold and emeralds, but also the growing problem of coltan mining. Coltan is a highly valuable ore used in electronics manufacturing. Since 2015, the park has shut down eight large-scale coltan operations and more than a thousand small mines operated by local residents.In accepting his Goldman award, Katembo emphasised the need for educating more people about the environmental importance of endangered regions.He also reiterated a call for more respect for local and international conservation laws, as well as sustained support from groups, individuals and governments, in putting pressure on African countries not to be blindsided or corrupted by corporate interests.“It is not the time to do something else,” he said in again declaring his lifelong dedication to his chosen cause. “When we see how many [groups] are trying to destroy our protected areas, we cannot stop now. If I left, that would feel like a betrayal to the protections the wildlife and national parks deserve. I also need to ensure a new generation of young Congolese are there to take up the baton.”Sources: CNN, Guardian, Virunga National ParkWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.
By Sarah PittmanIt has always been known that there is typically an increase in calories during the holidays, whether it is Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years. People like to celebrate with food and higher caloric drinks on special occasions. Which brings me to my next question: what are some healthy tips to fight the extra calories?Some research has been done on strategies to take charge of your plate at family holiday meals. Harvard Medical School came out with some tips for holiday eating:Budget wiselyTake 10 before taking secondsDistance helps the heart stay healthyDon’t go out on an empty tankDrink to your healthAvoid alcohol on an empty stomachPut on your dancing (or walking) shoesMake room for veggiesBe buffet savvyDon’t shop hungryThe overall message from combined research articles revealed overall similarities, which include:Do not show up at a holiday party on an empty stomachGive your stomach time to assess if you are full Limit your alcohol intakeTake time in between getting seconds or thirdsAll in all, enjoy your holiday festivities while maintaining a healthy lifestyle!This blog was posted by Robin Allen, a member of the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) Nutrition and Wellness team that aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the MFLN Nutrition and Wellness concentration on our website on Facebook, on Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Advertisement AdvertisementThe NBA media landscape is about to get another massive shakeup. Shams Charania and Yahoo Sports were unable to reach an agreement for a contract extension, meaning talented young Charania will be the top remaining free agent of the NBA summer. This news was confirmed by Yahoo Sports GM Geoff Reiss.At just 24, Charania is already one of the NBA’s top news breakers, and NBA fans will likely pay close attention to his next move.On Tuesday, Charania announced that he will join The Athletic and Stadium:“I am excited to announce I am joining The Athletic and Stadium as the lead Senior NBA Insider/Writer and Analyst later this month. I am so grateful and honored to have spent the past three years at Yahoo. I’m appreciative to have been part of The Vertical and the tremendous staff, top to bottom. Thank you to all of the Yahoo Sports executives, editors Johnny Ludden and Joe Garza and the rest of the group. Now, I am so pumped and thrilled for this next journey and challenge. I’m excited to join the talented people at both The Athletic and Stadium, two places with tremendous enthusiasm, opportunity for growth and determination to cover the league. Both are hungry and ready. So am I.”Charania became the face of Yahoo’s NBA coverage around after Adrian Woj left for ESPN in June of last year.Also Read-NBA: Kobe Bryant’s $6M investment in BodyArmor is now worth $200M