South Africa: Marching in Step - the Shared Challenges of Colombia and South Africa


Colombia and South Africa are on different sides of the world yet share many similarities and have many opportunities to learn from each other's developmental challenges, especially in how to address deep structural issues such as land ownership and how to better protect their human rights defenders and community activists.

In the early hours of New Year's Day, Gilberto Valencia said goodbye to his family and friends at a party and left for his home in the sleepy town of Suarez, Colombia. A young man approached him and after exchanging a few words shot Valencia dead in the street.

Valencia was the president of his area's Junta de Acción Comunal, a community-based residents' organisation and the leader of Los Herederos (The Inheritors), an award-winning music group that travelled the country using rap, hip hop and breakdancing to teach young people about Colombia's peace process.

In the last few weeks, Colombia celebrated 200 years of independence from Spanish colonial rule as well as a Wimbledon win and its first Tour de France victory. But set against this joyous backdrop, on 26 July 2019, tens of thousands of Colombians from more than 50 cities across their country came together for the March...

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