The First African Pierre de Coubertin Youth Forum

Cape Town/Robben Island
15th-21st September 2018
The International Pierre de Coubertin Committee has organised every other year 11 International Pierre de Coubertin Youth Forums since 1997 with more than 1,200 participants in all.
We are very lucky that for many years participants from Africa have been able to join our international communities. Thus, we welcomed the teams from the Coubertin School in Tunis, the Kipkeino School Eldoret in Kenya, from Mauritius and at the last two Youth Forums we also had students from South Africa.
On the occasion of Nelson Mandela’s 100th anniversary of birth, the CIPC wanted to provide more African students the unique chance to live and experiment the values such as mutual respect and international friendship. Thus, the idea of a first African Pierre de Coubertin Youth Forum was born.
The Participants

In collaboration with the Foundation for Sport, Development and Peace (Republic of South Africa), we organised a meeting for 40 high school students aged 16-18.

Photos: Duncan van der Merwe
The motto of this meeting was: “The Power of Sport and Peace: Be the Legacy in Sport and Life”.

20 delegations took part, each attending with two students and one teacher, coming from different regions of South Africa as well as from Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mauritius and Namibia.

The Forum Site

Having just chosen Robben Island, the very place where Nelson Mandela had been imprisoned for more than 18 years, was not only an excellent choice, but also an extraordinary emotional experience for all participating boys and girls as well as for their teachers.

The arrival of our ferry at Robben Island
The multi-purpose learning centre – a former prison tract
Accommodation for four days

Besides the accommodation for all participants, volunteers and staff members, the multi-purpose learning centre provided all necessary facilities for a successful forum (e.g. a large audience hall, smaller rooms for workshops and meetings, places for sports exercises and the canteen).


Learning about Nelson Mandela and his fight for peace, freedom and equality of all people

The Museum Island provided excellent facilities to all students and teachers to impart knowledge on South African history and the fight of outstanding personalities for a better life, in particular for black and coloured people. Under the guidance of two experienced workshop leaders, Vanessa Mitchell and Sobantu Stofile, the group had the chance to visit the memorial places and the Maximum Security Prison twice during their stay on the Island: The first day for an initial orientation and the last day for a Knowledge Hunt.

Participants studying at different memorial places on Robben Island
Photos: I. Nikolaus
The Maximum Security Prison and Nelson Mandel’s cell
Photo: I. Nikolaus
Volunteers and teachers in front of the Lime Quarry
Photos: I. Nikolaus
The Competitions for the Pierre de Coubertin Award

Similarly to the 11 Youth Forums that had been organised by CIPC during the past 20 years, the five competitions for the Pierre de Coubertin Award were the core of the week’s activities:

1. Social Performance

2. Olympic Knowledge Test

3. Sporting Performance

4. Cultural Performance

5. Discussion on Olympic Values.


The Knowledge Test

Beside South African history, the lecturesand workshops offered all participants knowledge on Pierre de Coubertin and Nelson Mandela and their ideas of peace. Furthermore, they learnt about the history of the Olympic Movement and the role sport can play in people’s lives and help to make a better society. The knowledge Test consisted of two parts:

A written test and a board game on Robben Island and Olympic knowledge
Photos: I. Nikolaus
Discussions on Olympic Values

With huge enthusiasm and openness, the young people discussed about the Olympic values of Fair-Play, Excellence, Friendship, Joy of effort, Balance between body, mind and will.


Discussions on the functions of leadership and ideas on how they themselves could contribute to change and development in their communities after they return home, played an important role for the African participants. During the Forum they prepared a Declaration for the 5th Cape Town Sport and Peace Conference.

Preparing a Declaration for the 5th Cape Town Sport and Peace Conference.
The Arts Workshops

The participating teenagers showed an enormous creativity at the arts workshops by creating the forum banner, beading and making collages.


Of course, also sports were on the programme during the week. Every morning they started with a morning physical activity. During free time the participants enjoyed different games. One afternoon was devoted to Paralympic sports that the young people eagerly tried. Additionally, they made long walks along the coast and to the different memorial places spread over the island.

The Mini-Expo

One of the highlights of the forum was the Mini-Expo, where all groups presented their schools/countries. It was an ideal moment to learn about different cultures, religions and traditions.

Watching a karate presentation by South African girls, listening to poems the students had written themselves, enjoying a young Rapper from Zimbabwe and great singers or dancers from Mauritius, everybody enjoyed this evening and joined in by singing and dancing.

Highlights from the Mini-Expo

Photos: I. Nikolaus

Two days in Cape Town

On Wednesday morning, the 20th September, the ferry took us over a very bumpy sea back to Cape Town. Fortunately, everyone arrived safely. With great excitement the groups went on a city tour to discover the sights of the metropolis of more than three million inhabitants.

One of the most impressive things was the visit of the Parliament.


All the groups stayed at the Hotel Shalimar Gardens in the suburbs of the town, where they also met the participants of the Youth Peace Heritage Games for a social evening.


A great experience for everyone was the participation in the 5th International Cape Town Sport and Peace Conference the last day of the Forum.


For extraordinary achievements in organising this outstanding meeting of African youth, Mrs Jasmina Majiet received the Pierre de Coubertin Arts/Culture and Peace Award during the Peace Conference.



Thanks to the great engagement of the Organising Committee, the volunteers and workshop leaders, the first African Pierre de Coubertin Youth Forum became a life-time experience for all its participants and accompanying teachers:


→ 60 students and their teachers from different African countries have lived the Olympic values during the week,

→ experienced international friendship and understanding

→ learnt about different African cultures and traditions

→ gained knowledge on Pierre de Coubertin and Nelson Mandela and their ideas of peace

→ returned as ambassadors of peace to their native countries/regions.


Duncan van der Merwe, one of the engaged volunteers, compiled a video about the highlights of this first African Youth Forum:

Many thanks to the local Organising Committee:

Prof Dr Marion Keim

Prof Christo de Coning

Mrs Nariman Laattoe

Mrs Jasmina Majiet

Ms Violet

Mrs Vanessa Mitchell

Mr Sobantu Stofile

Ms Heidi Raymer

Mr Warren Lucas and his team of great volunteers: Duncan van der Merwe, Mpai Rampou, Raedene Lucas, Kirby Phillips, Faris Jacobs, Thandi Lees, Faatimah Majiet, Alicia Heyman

and many other helping hands!