Paternoster, South Africa: International City of Peace
We welcome Ben Rootman and the citizens of Paternoster, South Africa who, by their legacy of peacemaking and goals for the future, establishes their community as an International City of Peace. Paternoster is a beautiful fishing village on the West Coast of South Africa that encourages citizens to “be aware of the plight of some of the Paternoster villagers and actively lend a supporting hand.”
Note: Introduction page with information primarily at the time of joining International Cities of Peace. For updates, please contact the liaison.
PATERNOSTER AS A DESTINATION
Paternoster is a small fishing village on the West Coast of South Africa where some 2,000 permanent residents live together, strive to adhere to the saying – live and let live. Residents who have been in Paternoster for their entire life, live side by side with people coming from big cities but chose to be in Paternoster. Many people have lived here for ever, others are new, but Paternoster accommodates everyone.
People greet, they talk, they debate and they differ from each other. South Africa’s robust democracy is probably nowhere else as evident as in Paternoster where everybody has the right to an opinion – and vividly expresses that opinion. Public meetings are not just mere short discussions, they are deliberations! People speak and view their opinions – after all, is this not what public meetings are intended for?
Should the sea – from which many people earn a livelihood – from time to time claim someone, the community grieves in unity and support. People mourn in solitude, but also jubilate in unity. Spoken or unspoken, the legacy of peace is an unwritten law and people support their neighbour.
The saying is most probably so evident in this fisherman’s gem on South Africa’s West Coast – Paternoster is a not a drive-through, it is a destination. Hopefully also a destination where every visitor will leave a legacy of peace and a lasting experience of goodwill.
Striving for more safety, prosperity and quality of life for all citizens in the village
The Paternoster Peoples’ Partnership initiative – for the people by the people – vision is to empower the community to take charge of its destiny.
We strive to fulfill our vision by developing and maintaining solid future-orientated programmes that will create opportunities for –
- The young people of Paternoster to embrace their future
- The broader Paternoster community to be actively involved in the development of the youth
- The Paternoster community to be mindful of the well-being of their fellow residents
- The home owners of Paternoster to be aware of the plight of some of the Paternoster villagers and actively lend a supporting hand
- The tourist community of Paternoster to take a keen interest in the development of the village and its people
The Paternoster Peoples’ Partnership is actively involved in many actions – the Feed a Kid project, after school care, sports development, music, art and woodwork classes and skills development in various fields. This is actively supported by formal and informal initiatives in Paternoster.
In 2015 more than 30 organisations and volunteers helped with the Feed a Kid project to provide 180 learners with lunch each school day of the year. They contributed almost R206 000 in time – 27 600 volunteer hours – and products to the benefit of this project.
As the organisation believes involvement should start with the Paternoster children, all initiatives start at the local primary school, St Augustine’s Primary, and all projects are coordinated with the blessing of the school principal, Celestine Barends.
The first visible action of this cooperation was the project whereby the Paternoster Peoples’ Partnership awarded top achievers in every class at the school’s closing ceremony since in 2015. The organisation’s chairperson, Sanita van der Merwe, also established a school choir which made its debut at the event.
The establishment of a communications centre that is being equipped with computers, donated by the organisation, is in the offing. The centre will also be used after hours for computer training for local adults. A Paternoster home owner has already pledged R10 000 towards the development of the centre. In a ‘training the trainers’ exercise, adults are being trained to offer computer literacy classes. A Swiss donor, the President of the Club of the Fiends of South Africa, will visit Paternoster soon to solidify a donation from the organisation.
A renowned Paternoster chef assists the school’s kitchen staff with culinary skills so as to enhance the school meals – also empowering adults.
During the recent Covid-19 lockdown the community rallied to provide food parcels and running a soup kitchen for to the needy.
The Paternoster Peoples’ Partnership is committed to continue down the chosen road of helping to make the town’s children’s dreams come true. In so doing, it assists the youth in becoming proud adults and worthy citizens. The more people that join in the process, the more dreams can become true.
A dedicated team is a certain winning recipe for enhancing safety, prosperity and quality of life for all citizens in the village. All adds up to live our vision that –
“No child in Paternoster should ever be without a dream…”
LETTER OF INTENT
ABOUT THE LIAISON
Ben is a member of Junxion Communications, well known in among others, the South African tourism, hospitality, science and technology, agricultural, educational and legal industries as a leader in the field of public relations and communications. The company was founded in 1997.
A level 4 BEE company, Junxion Communications fulfils its social responsibilities by, among others, offering experiential training to final year media study students of the University of Venda. Furthermore, it provided in-house training to tourism students of previously disadvantaged groups to publish South Africa’s largest annual tourism trade newspaper, the Indaba Daily News. It also supported journalism students from the Tshwane University of Technology for the exchange programme with the Windesheim University in the Netherlands.
As a community role player Ben is treasurer for the Paternoster Peoples’ Partnership who is closely involved in sourcing sponsorships – local and international – for a community computer centre, aiding learners and adults.
The company offers clients both strategic communication advice and an operational public relations service.
The company has a reputation for reliability, punctuality and presenting relevant and quality material. As a small core team it outsources certain functions to experts in the field, ensuring that clients receive the best possible, cost-effective service. It was the secretariat for the National Press Club and Agricultural writers SA. In 2005, Ben was responsible for the communications around the NEPAD Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme which was presented in various African countries.
As a member of Team Junxion, he was responsible for media training of African journalists, including the production of overnight newspapers at COP17 in Durban for the Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network in 2011.
For the same agency, as part of Team Junxion, Ben was also responsible for media liaison, media training and the production of conference newspapers at African conferences in Tanzania and Swaziland.
He is the principal client liaison for Junxion’s client, the University of Venda, responsible for its publications like monthly newsletters, annual and strategic reports, school’s printed communications products and awards requirements like certificates and trophies.
Prior to entering the world of communications consultancy, specifically working in the field of science, technology and agriculture, Ben was Senior Manager, Communication at the South African Post Office, a company he joined in 1981. There he was responsible for media liaison, image building projects, new corporate identity and budget management of the Post Office’s Communication Division.
Before this, from 1976 to 1980, he was with the SABC as a journalist, responsible for news coverage on various topics, including political correspondent at the then Transvaal Provincial Council and reporting on the Post Office. Highlights were the Information Scandal, the Silverton bank heist and the 1978 Pretoria floods.
He was nominated for an Artes award for the latter in the category best radio news reporting.
After completing a BSc degree at the University of Pretoria, he joined the Hydrological Research Institute, where he worked as an assistant hydrologist between 1973 and 1976, but later developed a communications programme for the institute. He holds a BSc degree and an Honours degree in Psychology from the University of Pretoria and completed the university’s Management Development Programme.
He is a past chief moderator of the SA Publications Forum’s annual publications competition, past chairman of the National Press Club in South Africa, a member of the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa and a founder member of the Universal Postal Union’s Communication Forum.
Thanks to Ursula Brown for mentoring our 295th City of Peace!
To contact or support this initiative:
ABOUT PATERNOSTER, SOUTH AFRICA
Paternoster: An historic fishing village with old world charm (aka A VERY FISHY TALE)
The oldest fishing village on the West Coast, past and present meet in Paternoster. Life here is closely connected to the sea, with fishermen heading out in colourful traditional wooden boats to catch snoek in winter and crayfish in summer. Visitors can buy their fish fresh of the boats as they come into shore.
Meaning ‘our father’ in Latin, Paternoster is watched over the stoic Cape Columbine lighthouse. It stands tall and white in the nature reserve with the same name, and which extends all the way along the rocky coastline to include quirkily named Tietiesbaai. The reserve is a favourite camping ground for summer holidaymakers who want to be close to nature and the water’s edge.
About 90 minutes’ drive from Cape Town, Paternoster epitomises an authentic and traditional West Coast lifestyle, and local people are well loved for their humor, generosity, and hospitality. Surrounded by fynbos, wheat fields in winter, and wildflowers in Spring, Paternoster is also a favourite among snorkelers, experienced divers, kite surfers and flyers, hikers, bikers and kayakers. Virtually all year there are whales and dolphins to watch, and birding is excellent for endangered black oystercatchers and over 200 other species.
Talented local artists live and work here too, their painting, sculpture, pottery, and photography on exhibition at various galleries and shops in the village.
Foodies will also be spoilt for choice with renowned chefs presiding over excellent restaurants, some right on the beach. Sunsets over the sea long walks on the 8 km long, white, sandy beach of Langstrand, seal and penguin watching, evening fires and seafood braais are just a few of Paternoster’s enticing attractions. Or climb the lighthouse for a panoramic view over the village and beyond.
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