Umtapo Centre

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About Us


A society that will be characterised by political, social and economic justice and values that are consistent with the spirit of Ubuntu, an African philosophy.


UMTAPO’s mission is to empower and enable people, particularly youth and women, through popular education and participatory development, to take control of their own lives in the struggle for true freedom and justice.

History and Accomplishments

UMTAPO was established in 1986 in response to the rise of internecine violence within the black community and the resultant division and intolerance that reared its ugly head. As a consequence, Umtapo engaged in youth and women’s leadership training programmes, literacy and popular education, and information dissemination through publications and public fora for critical discourse.

In 1996, Umtapo worked with the South African Human Rights Commission and other organisations from the continent to develop a comprehensive Peace, Human Rights and Anti-Racism Education (PHARE) curriculum. This grew into a holistic liberatory programme to include training of teachers, learners, youth leaders, and education officials. The follow on effect was the establishment of Peace Afrika Youth Centres and Peace Afrika Youth Forums (PAYFs) by unemployed young activists in disadvantaged areas; Peace Clubs in secondary schools; and more recently, Children’s Peace and Empowerment Forums (CPEFs) in primary schools; and Tertiary Peace Forums (TPFs) at universities.

Since its official opening in 1987, UMTAPO has recorded a number of unique and historical achievements, amongst them were:
  • In 1988, convening the 1st National Conference on Violence in South Africa under the title “Who’ll Stop the Killing ?”

  • In 1990, being the 1st organisation to conduct adult literacy classes at the hostels in Umlazi

  • In 1991, convening the 1st National Literacy Conference in South Africa

  • In 1991, becoming the 1st South African organisation to be accepted as a member of the African Association for Literacy and Adult Education (AALAE)

  • In 1992, initiating the launch of the SA Association for Literacy and Adult Education, a national network led by and for the oppressed peoples of SA

  • In 1994, hosting the Assistant Secretary General of the OAU at a Conference on the Black Family which led to the establishment of UMTAPO’s African Peace Education Programme

  • In 1995, becoming one of the founding organisations of CIVICUS, the world alliance for citizen participation

  • In 1997, being requested to host the CIVICUS Africa Secretariat which it did until 1999

  • In 1998, becoming the Southern Africa focal point for the Hague Appeal for Peace in preparation for the World Conference in the Hague

  • In 1998, implementing an innovative African Peace Education Programme which later translated into the Peace, Human Rights and Anti-Racism Education (PHARE) Programme

  • In 2002, having the UMTAPO peace and anti-racism education programme officially included in the provincial agenda of the Mpumalanga Department of Education

  • In 2010, having its PHARE programme in particular the establishment of Peace Clubs in Schools officially adopted by the Eastern Cape Department of Education

  • In 2012, initiating a global collaboration for peace and social activism with initial focal points in Northern Ireland, Netherlands, Kenya, and South Africa

  • In 2012, developing through theory and praxis, a unique Model for Child Participation

Status of Organisation

Registered Non Profit Organisation (024-294-NPO)

Registered Public Benefit Organisation (PBO No. 930027158)

Registered non profit company as defined in Companies Act, 2008

UMTAPO Board Members

Mrs Ntsiki Biko

Community leader and health professional. Wife of the late Steve Biko and Board member of the Steve Biko Foundation

Professor Bennie Khoapa 

Social scientist. Former vice chancellor of the Natal Technikon (now DUT). Was executive director the Black Community Programmes when it was banned in 1977. Went into exile for almost 15 years. Former Chairperson of the South African Association for Literacy and Adult Education.

Dr James Marsh

Political activist and educationist. Was imprisoned on Robben Island for 5 years at the age of 17. Spent many years in exile in Germany before returning to SA.

Ms Asha Moodley

Ex-teacher. Political and gender activist. Banned and house arrested for many years during the 70s’. Wife of the late Strini Moodley. Recently retired from the Legal Resources Centre.

Professor Mbulelo Mzamane

Academic, political and cultural activist. First black vice chancellor of the University of Fort Hare. Spent many years in exile before returning to SA. Is the author of many publications.

Mr Jay Reddy


Dr Farida Patel

Deputy Principal at Centenary High School in Durban, one of the educators trained in PHARE and who had started a Peace Club at her school. Volunteer at Life-line and part-time lecturer at Edgewood Teacher Training College.

Mr Deena Soliar 

Founding member and Director of Umtapo. Former Secretary General of the South African Association for Literacy and Adult Education and Assistant Director of the African Community Education Association.

Ms Linda Yhukutwana 

Educationist. Former teacher at Dr Mandela High in Western Cape, was one of first educators trained in PHARE and started a Peace Club at her school. Currently, lecturing at the Crawford College.

UMTAPO Patrons

Ms Marjan Boelsma
, former chairperson of Dutch anti-apartheid solidarity group Azania Komitee. Marjan Boelsma has been associated with Umtapo Centre since 1992. Marjan’s political activism spans through 36 years of rigorous action for a more just world. She received UMTAPO’s Steve Biko International Peace Award in 2010.

Ishmael Mkhabela is the founder of Interfaith Community Development Association (ICDA), an agency which has since 1991 pioneered and promoted community organizing and community conflict resolution in South Africa.  In 1978, Ishmael was the founding chairperson of the Azanian People's Organisation (AZAPO).  Mkhabela chairs the boards of a number of trusts and companies including the Steve Biko Foundation. 

He received UMTAPO’s Steve Biko International Peace Award in 2002.

Dr Oshadi Mangena worked for the Christian Institute before being forced into exile. She lectured at the University of Amsterdam while in exile in Holland. A resolute gender activist and former executive Director of the Pitseng Women’s Trust Fund, Oshadi played a major role in the UMTAPO Women & Development programme, a partnership with the University of Amsterdam.

She received the UMTAPO’s Steve Biko International Peace Award in 2006

Professor David Macharia has been at the University of Nairobi for many years in various positions from Dean to Head of Department of Extra –Mural Studies. He has been adviser to various Ministries of Education on the African continent, a founder member of the African Association for Literacy and Adult Education, and former president of the International Community Education Association.

He received UMTAPO’s Steve Biko International Peace Award in 2003.


  • National Director: Deena Soliar

  • Special Programmes Director: Arun Naicker

  • Limpopo Branch Director: Nomiki Yekani

  • Youth Programme Co-ordinator: Pumzile Yika

  • UBUNTU Programme Co-ordinator: Lawrence Monyahi

  • Eastern Cape Co-ordinator: Zukiswa Mpayiphela

  • Field worker: Tshepo Mahladisa

  • Student Intern: Hanna Kim