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Sat May 28 09:59:54 SAST 2016

Stellies anti-racism activist gets a nod from the Vatican

Nashira Davids | 16 March, 2016 13:03
"There is inequality and injustice here. The students say they feel alienated. But they are visitors to our town. We live here and are always faced with this‚'' said Adams. File photo
Image by: Andre Pentz ‏ via Twitter

An anti-racism movement in Stellenbosch has won the support of Pope Francis.

Independent councillor Franklin Adams started the annual Stellenbosch Against Racism campaign in 2007‚ and this year it coincides with the national Anti-Racism Week‚ which started on Monday.

In preparation for the campaign‚ Adams wrote to Pope Francis in October‚ and he has received a reply saying: "The Holy Father … appreciates the concerns which prompted you to write to him. His Holiness will remember your intentions in his prayers‚ and he invokes upon you God's abundant blessings."

It was penned by Monsignor Peter B Wells.

"Every year I battle to get support from local leaders but the Pope responded‚'' said Adams.

Stellenbosch is under the spotlight again after AfriForum Youth successfully sought an interim order to force Stellenbosch University to reinstate Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.

On Wednesday‚ Parliament's higher education portfolio committee visited the university to listen to presentations on a variety of issues‚ including its language policy and transformation.

In a documentary last year‚ several students of colour spoke candidly about the racism and prejudice the had endured.

"There is inequality and injustice here. The students say they feel alienated. But they are visitors to our town. We live here and are always faced with this‚'' said Adams.

He has invited residents of the town to speak about their concerns and many‚ including schoolchildren‚ have pledged to fight racism.

Signing the pedge on Wednesday‚ Catherine Februarie said: "I've been living here all my life and this place is still racist. You can see it in everyone's attitudes."

Student Marlize van der Merwe said it was time to move forward.

"The new generation should start anew and not just continue with the past‚" she said before signing the pledge.

Every year Adams sets up a tent on an open area in the centre of town called Die Braak‚ which was once used to trade slaves. For the duration of the week-long campaign he is sleeping there. – TMG Digital/Sunday Times

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