Covid-19

Civil society watch, 12-16 October

World Food Day in focus this week

South African children mark their places by placing their lunch boxes and bowels in a road marked with social distancing lines and cover them with stones to prevent them from blowing away in the wind as they wait for food from the Masiphumelele Creative Hub feeding scheme run by Yandiswa Mazwana in Masiphumelele, Cape Town, South Africa 28 May 2020. (Photo: EPA-EFE/NIC BOTHMA)

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the hunger crisis, not only in South Africa, but globally. This week several organisations commemorate World Food Day, while other groups focus on education, decolonising prisons, and vaccine trials.

World Food Day

On Friday, 16 October, we observe World Food Day. This day provides an occasion to highlight the plight of hungry and undernourished people in the world, something which has been globally exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. World Food Day is calling for global solidarity to help all populations, and especially the most vulnerable, to recover from the crisis, and to make food systems more fair, resilient, and robust.

On Monday, 12 October, the Kagiso Trust brings you a round table discussion on community resilience and responses to Covid-19. With a special focus on food security, this event acknowledges the ways in which people have worked cooperatively to address the critical goods supply issues that arose during the pandemic.

Join Sihle Mooi (Rays of Hope), Zelda Holtzman (Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education), Tokelo Mahlakoane (Mining Affected Communities United in Action) and Faried Domingo (Bosmont Community Patrol) as they examine how this resilience and community networking will be used to address future struggles around food security.

The Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group invites you to a webinar to launch the new Household Affordability Index with food price data from Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Springbok and Pietermaritzburg on Thursday, 15 October.

The Index tracks the prices of 44 items regularly purchased by low-income households. This data is critical to enabling policymakers to track how low income families are responding to a deepening financial and economic crisis, coping with rising costs in the context of job losses, rising household debt and deepening food and poverty crises. Register here.

On Friday, 16 October, join the Climate Justice Charter Movement for a national day of action on the call to end hunger, thirst, pollution, and climate harm. The call for action starts at 10am, while an online assembly with Parliament will take place at 2pm

Register here for the discussion.

At 12pm, join the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, the Centre of Excellence in Food Security, and the C19 People’s Coalition Food Working Group for a digital meeting on the right to food and equitable food systems. The event will see panellists debate and share recent and ongoing research on the devastating impacts of Covid-19, such as increased levels of hunger around the world, massive disruptions to the food system and loss of incomes to buy food. Register here.

The C19 People’s Coalition Food Working Group is also calling for an empty plates protest. They are asking the nation to join them in carrying empty plates and demand the realisation of “everyone’s” constitutional “right to sufficient food and water” in South Africa. We will publish further information about this important protest during the coming week.

The rest of the week…

The 24th Poetry Africa Festival kicks-off on Monday at 11am. Hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), the start of the festival will see a keynote address by Lebo Mashile and an audio-visual experience by Koleka Putuma from her debut poetry collection Collective Amnesia. The festival will be live streamed on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Monday also sees the launch of a series of podcasts by the Climate Justice Coalition on raising awareness around climate change amid the pandemic. The podcast, titled Just us and the climate, centres the climate crisis in public interest discourse and seeks to use conversation and education as effective tools of communication.

On Wednesday, 14 October, join author Ruth Hopkins, lawyer Morris Kaberia, and activist Baz Dreisinger, for a Jacana Don’t Shut Up conversation on whether prisons in Africa should be decolonised. Within various African law traditions, concepts of forgiveness and reconciliation are reasonably common. Various reconciliatory forms of justice can be found in indigenous laws that focus on forgiveness, communalism, healing and restitution instead of retribution throughout the continent (for example, in Nigeria and the Songhai Empire of West Africa). These and other pertinent questions will be discussed. Caroline Wanjiku Kihato, an academic and activist originally from Kenya, will moderate the debate.

At 12pm the University of the Witwatersrand is hosting its second webinar in a series of critical engagements titled Pandemic Pangolins: Systems, Science, and Society. Wits is bringing together experts to debate and evaluate the ever-changing body of knowledge emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic. This series probes pandemic innovations, responses, and partnerships.

This week, speakers (to be announced) will converse on the human face of vaccine trials: Biopolitics, trust, science, and communication. Register here.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the Trialogue Knowledge Hub is hosting their 13th conference on breaking barriers to education. Many of South Africa’s key educationists, academics, heads of corporate foundations and other thought leaders will address early childhood development and literacy. You can view the two day programme here.

On Thursday at 3.30pm, the Nelson Mandela foundation is hosting a liberating the archive webinar. Join authors Professor Carolyn Hamilton, Professor Jacob Dlamini, and Professor Imraan Coovadia discussing their new books exploring the nexuses of archive-discourse, public-private, and violence-peace-making. Register here.

At 4pm, the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research invites you to their next Public Positions session. This week join historian Dipesh Chakrabarty for a discussion on the Planetary age in human history. Chakrabarty argues that “climate change upends longstanding ideas of capitalism, history and globalisation”.

This talk will introduce and elucidate the notion of a new “planetary age” in human history and discuss some of the intellectual challenges it poses to scholarship in the humanities.

At 5.30pm Maverick Citizen Editor Mark Heywood will host a discussion with former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke about his latest book, All Rise.

Together with advocate Adila Hassim and SECTION27 legal researcher, Tendai Mafuma, they will explore how civil society uses the Constitution, socio-economic rights, and the future of the Constitution. Register here. DM/MC

South Africa is full of activists whose voices and campaigns need to be heard, and we want to report on all of them. So, wherever you live, if you have virtual events or meetings which you think other activists ought to know about, write to us at [email protected]

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