ACCORD celebrate Africa Day at site of the Africa Peace Centre

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Lt. Col Mackie, along with Adelin Hatungimana as translator, addressing ACCORD Staff and guests on the history of the site

ACCORD celebrated Africa Day, 25 May 2007, with a short symbolic ceremony on the Bluff Headland in Durban, future site for the Africa Peace Centre (APC), a NEPAD approved project. ACCORD’s current five year vision (2007-2012) is focused on “Encouraging and consolidating dialogue towards the prevention, management and transformation of conflict” with the aim of affecting a paradigm shift towards dialogue.

Hence this vision was the theme for the day, especially since dialogue is the main pillar of ACCORD’s conflict resolution and peace building model. The African Union flag was part of the ceremony to commemorate the peace efforts that Africa is undertaking to find african solutions to african challenges.

L-R: Senator Laurent Nicimbeshe (Burundi), Vasu Gounden (Founder and Executive Director, ACCORD), Jerome Sachane (Deputy Director, ACCORD), Adelin Hatungimana (Legal Clinic Project Officer, ACCORD Burundi Country Office), and Martha Bakwesegha (Programme Officer, ACCORD)

The APC will aim to build capacity in Africa for the prevention of conflicts and, where conflicts do arise, to have a facility that can speed up ACCORD’s response time, and provide consistent and continuous support to sustain any peace initiative beyond the agreement phase. It is with regard to the latter that ACCORD is currently hosting a small delegation from Burundi at ACCORD House to engage in discussions looking at strengthening and supporting peace in Burundi, and exploring issues related to post-conflict peace building.

In 2006 ACCORD awarded the Nation of Burundi the Africa Peace Award for ending their twelve year civil war and holding democratic elections. Two criteria for the Award are the peaceful settlement of disputes and the good governance of public affairs. It was therefore fitting that ACCORD invited the visiting Burundian delegation to be part of its celebration of Africa Day. ACCORD has been involved in assisting the Burundi peace process since 1995, and in 2003 opened its first country office in Bujumbura.

L-R: Adelin Hatungimana (who assisted with French-English translation), Senator Laurent Nicimbeshe, who spoke on behalf of the Burundi delegation, and Vasu Gounden

While on the Bluff Headland, Lt. Col. Mackie, a representative from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), gave ACCORD Staff and guests an informal briefing on the history of the site.

In the early establishment of facilities on the site it was used as a defensive position for the city of Durban. During the Apartheid years the site was occupied by the then South African Defence Force (SADF) and used for the training of its Special Forces, the elite units of the SADF that carried out military incursions into the frontline states of the then Southern African Development Coordinating Conference (SADCC) region. It is therefore significant that ACCORD will be using the same site to establish a Peace Centre to take peace into Africa, as opposed to war.

Various print and visual media, including SABC Africa, were on site during ACCORD’s Africa Day commemoration