Making Peace in Cape Town

This Article originally appeared online on December 17, 2014 for The Big Issue South Africa

An international photo exhibition is now showing in the Company’s Garden, bringing with it a powerful message of peace.

By Jen Jackson

FW de Klerk addresses the crowd.

FW de Klerk addresses the crowd.

Governors Avenue in the Company’s Garden received international attention on November 6, when a new art installation entitled Making Peace launched on the leafy avenue in the city centre. The path buzzed and murmured throughout the day, as locals and tourists stopped to look at the display: photographs from around the world, alongside lessons in peace.

The photographic display was brought to the city by the International Peace Bureau (IPB) and will remain here for three months before moving on to its next location. It features 124 photos from 110 photographers worldwide, and has already been on display in international hubs like Stockholm and Geneva.

Originally planning to align the exhibition with the 2014 World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, the IPB decided to go ahead with its plans when South Africa’s government denied entry to the Dalai Lama and the summit was cancelled.

“It was unfortunate, of course, that we were unable to host the Nobel Summit of Peace Laureates,” said public representative Councillor Garreth Bloor in a speech at the launch event. “Cape Town’s role as a destination and as a space in which issues of peace and diplomacy can be discussed, remains.”

Another prominent speaker at the launch was former president FW de Klerk, who addressed South Africa’s history and its role in the campaign for world peace.

“I believe that future historians will regard South Africa’s peaceful transformation as one of the most remarkable and positive developments of the last part of the 20th century,” he said. “The peace that we have achieved in South Africa is like a young tree. It needs to be watered. It needs to be cared for. It needs to be nurtured. That is the challenge which young South Africans – and old South Africans like me – still face.”

The aim of Making Peace is to teach the public, especially the youth, the key elements to creating a “sustainable peace”. The photos are organised into five categories, addressing each key element: Disarmament and non-violence; Conflict prevention and resolution; Economic and social justice; Human rights, law, and democracy; and Environment and sustainable development.

A young girl stops to read one of the exhibition pieces.

A young girl stops to read one of the exhibition pieces.

Weeks after the opening ceremony, Making Peace is still drawing plenty of attention. If you venture into the Company’s Garden, you see not only the powerful images of the exhibition, but also the interest of the community as people stop to take a look. Even those with no prior knowledge of the event are drawn in by the exhibition and its hopeful message: that world peace is not just a pipe dream, but a very real possibility.



Jen JacksonComment