this month at the media centre….

we planted an indigenous olive tree on the school grounds just below the netball courts.

about the tree

Kara received the tree when she attended the memorial service of the late Neville Alexander. An activist, socialist; teacher & author; academic Neville Alexander changed form this year and the tree was to be planted in a public space, in his memory.

Taken from the link supplied above, “there are three key ideas running through all Neville Alexander’s work:

  • The fundamental necessity for South Africans to move away from Race consciousness. He was scathing about any attempts to pigeon-hole or analyse South Africans in terms of apartheid’s old so-called “Race” categories and insisted on the needto think in terms of the far more real and relevant categories of class, gender and language.
  • He believed passionately in the importance of children learning to read, write and think in their own mother tongue. At the same time he fully understood the need for mastery in an international langue and thus promoted bi-lingual, indeed multi-lingual, education.
  • The struggle for a socialist world of justice and equality for all.”

See also Esley Philander’s CTV tribute piece.

Because of his unwavering belief in the need for us to speak each other’s languages, we christened the tree: umthi welwimi- the tree of languages. Among ourselves, we call the tree Ashika, Neville Alexander… The tree will serve as a reminder for all of us to do the hard work of striving towards speaking each other’s languages…allowing ourselves to sound foolish and be laughed at as we sentence by sentence build a new way of being in our broken, bleeding land.

The tree was also planted in solidarity with the movement for the freedom of Palestine from the on-going reality of Apartheid under the Israeli state. To this day, Israel uproots and burns olive trees in Palestine as a form of punishment. Not only do these trees serve vital economic purposes for the Palestinians, but they are also viewed as spiritual conduits through which a family maintains its conversation with their ancestors.

See: http://www.dadychery.org/2011/11/08/resistance-is-fertile-palestines-eco-war/ for more information

“Olive trees are holy; what faith, what religion allows this to happen? How does any human being have the heart to kill trees like this?” Farmer Abu Latifa speaking of the uprooting of the olive grove that he had grown over 40 years.

May Ashika’s roots grow strong as she reminds us of those who came before us and who we fight alongside.

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caught up in a south africa where lies are paraded as truths; where memories are distorted to strip and reassign power; kgantsa ho ganye sought to create a ‘memory knot’ on june 16 2012. through collective efforts, we attempted to make a protuberance of story, meaning and knowledge that would re-teach, and re-inform our youth about who we are by building a better understanding of where we come from.

the day began with a simple memory circle…a collection of individuals who came to share their stories and experiences about june 16 and about activism in southern africa…

forging of memory warriors

sikose mji, a student activist during the uprising, shared how it felt to be part of the movement;

“our whole lives were subjected to what the system wanted you to do. the uprising was like a relief from within. we wanted to exhale but we didn’t have the means…it felt like, thank you god, at last!”

from telling the story about what happened in 1976, the circle evolved to asking questions about what is happening in 2012.

school principle yvonne mabanga, informed the circle that in 1994, educational policy in south africa forced all schools to teach learners in english…a few years later this was changed, and then later changed again…

so if the fundamental issue of quality education in our country has not been addressed, why do we no longer care? why did the state of affairs enrage the youth of 1976 and yet today it doesn’t seem to move us? as the conversation changed and grew the circle stumbled upon the realization that the big change in the pre and post-1994 context was not an end to oppression and discrimination but rather a dissolving of the communities response and organisation against this oppression.

steeped in thought, having forged a new circle of memory warriors, the rest of the day was spent making new memories…creating new meaning around what it means to fight today…

an artRising…a salute from the youth of today, to the valiant soldiers who came before…the ones who would not forget and could not accept.

rekindling the fire of no surrender

we danced, sang, drew, planted trees, ate, drank and most importantly, we remembered…we reclaimed…

we free the people with music

to all those who came through…who gave of themselves, their art and their time; we say thank you and we invite you to take our hand as we move forward, as we now not only know, but act like we know.

creating a new story

10h00 – 12h00:                   youth club t-shirt printing workshop in the park

12h00 – 14h00:                  memory circle in lebo’s backpackers 

14h00 – 15h00:                  jahm session in the park

16h00 – 20h00:                  movie screenings in lebo’s backpackers

16h00 – 20h00:                   sound expe­­­­­rience in the park

 all day activities

indigo market in the park

aerosoul movement in the park (bring your own paint, walls are plentiful)

bmx’ing & skatin’ in the street

we remember...June 16 ArtRising is an expression of the creative energy that burns in the spirit of Southern African youth who believe that art and culture are tools for social change.

We call our showcase an ArtRising: a cultural conflagration of artists from our streets and townships, who wage an unrelenting war against the social ills that have, and continue to plague our communities.

Street artists and organisations from across South Africa will use the day to showcas
e critically conscious and indigenous visual art, music and movement from the gutters. Through these various mediums they will articulate the issues that young people today grapple with and how it is we transcend the challenges we face.

We invite you to spend the day in grateful acknowledgement of the ones who came before and in active pursuit of the instructive example they left as a legacy.


It was both fun & a tedious task from the 1st-8th April 2012 @ Thabisang Primary School in Orlando West Ext in Soweto where we set off with the idea to revamp the Library Media Space. When we first entered the classroom we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to, not just to clean but to arrange the mountains of books. Bonolo [The Beading Dancer turned media guide] Thato and Taryn took bravely to the task. We also helped our very own Graffiti artists [Ekse & Fang] with the colourful decorations on the wall just to give life to the Media Space Classroom. Years of under-use had turned the space into a storeroom for unwanted books and things and as we painted, rolled and sprayed our colours this suddenly blossomed with bright, Ndebele inspired, triangular colours on the wall. You can imagine the piles of dust that was in there not to mention the more than 1000 books the team had to arrange almost like factory stock taking. It was chaos.

 

Aluta Continua as we go back to finish-off the work we began. Having spent a week in the centre we’re now aware that we’ve just scratched the surface of what needs to be done before we actually start to fully operate the Library Media Centre. We are going to go back to the space but we also don’t want to disturb the day to day running of the school as the Library Media Space is in the premises of Thabisang Primary School. So our project will be an Extra-Mural Activity one which be informed by local, national and international best practice. The nice part about this whole process of Thabisang Primary School is almost every stakeholder at the school, principal, teachers, support staff, resides in the immediate community. Last but not least on a high note the school authorities promised us to be actively involve in the Library Media Space which will be a great thing because that way the community can join in as well [I want to show my gratitude to Taryn,Rasik,Fang,Skakrow,Thato,Bonolo,Tsietsi,Shimi & to those I didn’t mention may God bless you even more.

the chirping birds broke the spraycan infused trance…a quick glance at a cellphone through red eyes brought the day into sharper focus…06:30…the night had transformed into morning, a new day dawned…

as the little people stepped into their playhouse, their minds struggling to compute the transformation…their familiar surrounds had undergone a major facelift over the weekend…a purple elephant with a rainbow array of balloons, balanced on a bicycle while her body became a jungle gym for an assortment of animals, the imaginary and the real sharing one realm.

across the room, more balloons, a rainbow and a wise owl stands guard perched on a branch…

on another wall monkey takes a world-wind ride on the back of a zebra, holding his hand out for an octopus to join him as a smiling sun promises that its going to be a lovely day…

and below a turtle wearing a red top hat with a ghetto skyline for its shell, stands empty book cases waiting to welcome literary treasures…

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the image of love made real. a dream realised.

we’d begun the weekend with the dream of this moment and we’d managed to transform the little people’s playhouse and build a library.

while putting the final touches on the creche we’ve begun with building a media centre across the road at thabisang primary school. the space remains and open, unconditionally loving circle and we welcome all of those searching for a truly enlightening easter, to come through.