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FREE ARTICLES
Sunday Tribune June 9, 1996
Sunday Tribune - Sanlam Community Builder
African Solutions

It is most unlikely that someone who has been accosted by a group of gangers and then pelted with stones will turn into one of the main catalysts in bringing peace, but this is the case with Brian Moore.

Dusi canoeists no longer fear harassment from people who live alongside the river in Mkhizwane, near Hammersdale in the Valley of Thousands Hills.

Since the mid-Eighties, attacks on canoeists have escalated to the extent that people were held at knife point and robbed, cars were pelted with stones and bottles, and even the SANDF had to be called in to patrol the area.

But history has taken a turn for the better in the violence plagued province. Yesterday a group of youths who were the previous terrors of the Dusi, met with Brian Moore, voluntary head of the KZN Canoe Union’s Valley Assistance Fund, and some of the canoeists in an effort to co-operate and break down the barriers of mutual suspicion and foster genuine friendship.

The meeting was culmination of talks between the canoeists and members of the community which took almost 14 years. Brian Moore began going down to the valley by himself, with the aim of making friends properly. He said that this was certainly a learning experience, especially since the solution to the Dusi problems were found in the community itself.

“It’s so easy to turn to a western solution and do as they do, by locking up the thieves, but we’ve found a healthier and more African solution, where those who were the thieves of the past are invited to become part of the community and the future once again.”

It has taken a long time to get to the current level of communication between residents and canoeists, but members of the community have certainly taken to the kind-hearted Brian who has been accepted as one of their own. He is regularly invited to attend traditional gatherings and is fondly referred to as the “peacemaker”.

His organisation has committed itself to a series of development projects, including a donation of R20 000 to the local school. Mthimkhulu Training, also run by him, offers free courses on cross-cultural communication to the locals.

“Not only have the talks resulted in reconciliation but the youths have even agreed to return those goods that were stolen and have been recovered again,” said Mr Moore.

To commemorate a change to peaceful times, Brian wrote a poem which documents the Dusi, from its unhappy days to the current situation.

“Fighting the river, canoes will still quiver as paddlers cruise by amongst friends up on high.”

 
Burning the past, with leaders in the Kwa Mkhazwane Community - 1996

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