South Africa 20 September: Cape Town

Peace Run in Cape Town: Schools and Elite Athletes

Vorentoe Primary School

Our first school of the day, Vorentoe Primary School in Ravensmead, was organised by the Cape Town Marathon team.

Here our team is shown rehearsing a new skit that we incorporated into our school presentation to demonstrate the difference between what is peace and what is not peace. In this instance, Balarka pretended not to be a team player and in the first skit didn't want to play ball. On our second take, Balarka was more than happy to play ball with us when we asked him. We think that sharing is indeed a form of Peace!

Our Peace Run team were happy that Councillor Mzwakhe Nqavashe and Allen Barnes, from the Western Province Association could join us again for our second school visit. It also gave us great joy that Cape Town Marathon organiser, Janet Welham and Julie Warren-Codrington, a member of the marathon organising team, were able to join us. We know how very busy the lead up to the marathon was but, like us, they also felt that trying to nurture a positive culture of peace and harmony in our youth is a cause worthy to take time out for.

Not being able to address all 700 students at one time, due to limited space restrictions in the school hall, we instead had two sittings of presentations so that we could meet all the learners. Our first session was to the younger learners who, in all kindness, made us feel like rock stars, applauding and interacting so enthusiastically with our team members.

Allen Barnes encouraging all the young, bright learners to take up the Cape Town Marathon challenge in 10 years' time when they're old enough to participate.

A sea of curious and attentive learners.

Little helpers!

And a captivated audience...

Penny asking where we find peace. She thinks it's in her elbow!

The children know better...it's in your heart, Penny! Here we all take a moment of silence to really try to feel peace in our heart.

The most loved speaker of the day was Councillor Mzwakhe Nqavashe. His warm and natural charm managed to stir the children with excited enthusiasm and laughter, which was an inspiration for us to see. "Who of you wants to grow up and run the Cape Town Marathon?" to which there was a choir of "Me!" ringing out in the air.

The natural spontaneity, fascination and positivity in how children interact with the world around them are traits that so often wash over us as adults with time, and instead, is replaced with a seriousness that can sometimes take away some of our peace and joy. If we can all spend a day, or a few hours, or a even a moment in the shoes of being childlike again, perhaps all the possibilities and potential for a brave new and happy world would seem that much closer. We know that's how we felt!

Teachers and learners alike feeling a little more joy in their hearts and inspired to make a wish for peace.

Thank-you young learners for sharing your light with us.

This is our second presentation at Vorentoe Primary School with the older learners. Allen Barnes is shown introducing himself and the Cape Town Marathon.

Balarka leading the presentation to the older learners with the Peace Torch burning brightly in the foreground.

Councillor Mzwakhe Nqavashe, once again with a captivated audience.

Balarka and Councillor Mzwakhe Nqavashe encouraging each learner to make a wish for peace while they file out of the school hall and back to class.

Time for a group photo with all the teachers present. Thank you for the warm welcome to your school.

Ellerton Primary School

This is the Peace Run's third visit to Ellerton Primary School since 2013 when we were first there. We love coming to your school as we can see that you actively embrace the ideal of peace as can be seen in the learners' artwork displayed in the classrooms and passages of the school. Thank you for having us back again!

The Peace Run team was given the stage again to address the learners. Abhijatri was happy to lead the presentation.

Penny then went through her presentation on, "where do we find peace?"

The answer of course is ... in our hearts!

We think they really felt something.

Shree telling the learners that in order to be a part of our team we only require three things, that each person on the team understand the meaning of peace, that they like to run, and finally that each one remembers the motto of the Peace Run, which is "Peace begins with me!"

As the learners still had class to attend, each teacher selected one learner from each class to run outside with the team. Abhijatri is shown here with some of the selected learners.

She's really happy to hold the torch.

Abhijatri runs alongside the learners encouraging each child to run with the Torch and pass it along, as we do in our team when we run.

Such happy smiles.

It doesn't take much time before some of the learners speed up and some are caught having to sprint to catch up.

A moment for all the group to hold the torch together.

This is our motto too! We agree that all teachers and learners alike can be a part of our team.

Beautiful artwork on display for all to be inspired by.

Thank-you Mrs Cannon (far right) for having us at Ellerton Primary again. We hope to see you again next year.

Observatory Junior School

Although Observatory Junior School was our third and final school of the day, it was by no means any indication that there was less enthusiasm for our visit. In fact it was quite the opposite. When we contacted Observatory Junior to let them know that the Peace Run team would be in Cape Town, we received an immediate confirmation from Mr Donovan Williams (deputy principal) that we could come back to meet the learners again.

Here Balarka is talking to the learners about where we think we find peace. He thinks it could be in his heel!

A multitude of teachers and learners listening on.

Abhijatri playing the country guessing game. Can you tell which country in Africa looks a bit like a teapot?

A few perplexed faces when it comes to the country guessing game.

Mr Donovan Williams shown here with a group of his learners.

It's so apparent what a stable and founding rock he is here. Mr Williams shared with us that a few years ago he had taken a sabbatical from teaching to start his own human resources company. While successful, he felt an emptiness that was only restored by coming back to teach. Teaching and teachers hold such a pivotal role in society and are so often the unsung heroes of our community. Mr Williams, we honour your dedication to serve and nourish and encourage the youth of our tomorrow.

Thank-you and thanks to all the teachers, staff and learners at Observatory Junior.

Penny running alongside a group of learners with the Peace Torch. Some of the learners were so eager to run that we couldn't keep up!

This is Cape Town! Wherever you are, you can always see the mountain!

The Peace Torch somehow always inspires enthusiasm. Everyone wants to hold it.

The principal of Observatory Junior, Mrs O'Hara (shown third from the left) is recovering from surgery she recently underwent. She is also due to retire at the end of the month. We wish you all the very best. Your legacy will be long seen through all the learners that pass through and have passed through Observatory Junior.

As shown in the mural behind, it is clear that your school embraces one and all, be it from different countries, religions and backgrounds to strive for a better world.

Elite Athlete Photoshoot

Our last appointment for the day was the "Elite Athlete Photoshoot" held at the entrance to the Cape Town City Hall. As can be seen above, the balcony opposite the terraced entrance is home to a lifelike full colour statue of Mr Nelson Mandela with his right arm outstretched. The three balconies on this terrace, one in the centre with Mr Mandela's statue and one on each side, had been selected as the location for the elite athlete photoshoot.

One of the criteria required for a marathon to be awarded IAAF Gold Label status is that it must include a certain number of elite athletes. This year's Cape Town Marathon included an impressive number of elite athletes from several countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Australia and South Africa.

The Peace Torch was an integral part of the photoshoot. To start with, all the athletes assembled in the balconies and faced towards the road below. An impressive array of photographers and journalists stood below and clicked away continuously. The athletes then took turns to stand in groups around Mr Mandela's statue and with one or more of them holding the Peace Torch.

First up were key members of the organising committee, including Janet Welham (Race Director), Alderman JP Smith (City of Cape Town) and Elana Meyer (Cape Town Marathon Ambassador).

This group includes South African star runner, Stephen Mokoka (left), who later won the Cape Town Marathon in a time of 2:08:31, a new course record; Fikre Assefa (2nd left) of Ethiopia; Robert Chemonges (2nd right) from Uganda; and Askale Alemayehu (centre) from Ethiopia.

It's hard not to smile and wave when you are holding the Peace Torch next to Mr Mandela looking down on a sea of photographers!

Stephen Mokoka (left) and Nolene Conrad (3rd left), South Africa's favourites for the Cape Town marathon can both be seen in this image.

Here, Janet Welham and Elana Meyer pose together with the Torch ...

... while in this photo, Allen Barnes (WPA) and Hendrick Ramaala (South African running legend) take a moment to pose together.

And last but not least, here is a shot of our team on the balcony. Mr Mandela's statue certainly seemed to have a presence. It was very joyful and empowering to stand on either side of Mr Mandela with the Peace Torch, while gazing down at the sea of photographers clicking away below.

The athletes then congregated below on the road with Alderman JP Smith and Elana Meyer. In the back, Shree Chirkoot, Abhijatri Robinson and Penny Nam of the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run can be seen.

In this image, Hendrick Ramaala (middle left) and Fikre Assefa from Ethiopia (middle right) stand with Abhijatri Robinson, Penny Nam and Shree Chirkoot. Hendrik is a great ambassador for both running and peace and is a long-time friend of the Peace Run.

Here we see a group of mostly South African runners with the Peace Torch as the focal point once again.

We also met Ellie Pashley, an elite Australian runner, who was obviously inspired by this event and was very happy to hold the Torch with Penny. This was her first time in Cape Town and South Africa.

We then invited some of the Kenyan athletes to hold the Torch and offer their goodwill for peace. Here we see Jacob Chesari Korir followed by ...

... Kacherian Philemon,

... Kipsang Kipkemoi,

... Rotich Nicholas,

... and then all of NN Running Team in a group, including Albert Korir (below right).

Here, some of the elite women runners pose with the Penny and the Peace Torch.

And last, but not least, thank you to our Cape Town traffic police officers for keeping us safe during the photoshoot! We are truly grateful for your presence and glad that you were able to hold the Torch.