Artists thank Madiba for cre­ativ­ity

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NELSON MANDELA 1918-2013 -

MEM­BERS of South Africa’s cre­ative com­mu­nity in Europe yes­ter­day paid trib­ute to Nel­son Man­dela’s role in end­ing apartheid, call­ing it an his­toric achieve­ment that al­lowed cre­ativ­ity to flour­ish.

“I never thought I’d see apartheid dis­man­tled, and I did,” said chore­og­ra­pher Robyn Orlin, who re­cently staged her dance show A World Full of But­ter­flies in Paris.

“I grew up dur­ing the strug­gle and for me it was a mir­a­cle, and it gave me a lot of strength.

“By dis­man­tling apartheid he made me re­alise that things are pos­si­ble,” she said.

As well as de­priv­ing writ­ers, artists and mu­si­cians of their hu­man rights, the coun­try’s sys­tem of racial seg­re­ga­tion also de­nied them the stim­u­lus of con­tact with their coun­ter­parts in the in­terna- tional com­mu­nity dur­ing the 1980s.

A UN-ap­proved cul­tural boy­cott in protest against apartheid came into ef­fect in De­cem­ber 1980, and saw many big names shun the coun­try.

UN Res­o­lu­tion 35/ 206 asked states to “pre­vent all cul­tural, aca­demic, sport­ing and other ex­changes with South Africa”.

Per­form­ers and writ­ers were urged to per­son­ally boy­cott South Africa and aca­demic and cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions re­quested to sever links.

US singer Paul Si­mon pro­voked con­tro­versy when he recorded some tracks for his 1986 Grace­land al­bum in South Africa with black mu­si­cians.

Ac­tress Lindiwe Mat­shik­iza, 30, who played Man­dela’s daugh­ter Zindzi in the new film Man­dela: Long Walk to Free­dom, lived in ex­ile over­seas with her fam­ily un­til the end of apartheid in 1991, when she was eight.

She said she could never have had the life she en­joys to­day un­der apartheid.

“Cer­tainly, some­thing like (what) I’m do­ing to­day – work­ing in France with a com­pany and be­ing able to come and go as much as I please and feel­ing en­ti­tled to the world – it was not the case for some­one my age liv­ing 30, 40, 50 years ago,” she said.

Poet Ronelda Kam­fer, 32, who grew up in a poor fam­ily in the Western Cape, said there would have been no ques­tion of her be­com­ing a poet with­out the ed­u­ca­tion the new South Africa af­forded.

Kam­fer, who has just fin­ished a stint as a writer in res­i­dence for a project in La Rochelle in south-west France, said her ed­u­ca­tion gave her the aca­demic skills and self­be­lief to pur­sue her am­bi­tions.

“There was a sense of we could be any­thing we wanted to be.

“Even though my par­ents didn’t have any money, I be­lieved that be­cause apartheid had ended there were th­ese pos­si­bil­i­ties.”

And hav­ing the ed­u­ca­tion her par­ents and grand­par­ents had been de­nied, mo­ti­vated her to tell their sto­ries. “I felt a sense of want­ing to hon­our them, be­cause my grand­par­ents were great story-tell­ers but no-one could write th­ese sto­ries down, so I felt it was up to me.”

Brett Bai­ley, whose per­for­mance in­stal­la­tion Ex­hibit B about colo­nial atroc­i­ties in Africa was shown in Paris last month, said that grow­ing up un­der apartheid meant pol­i­tics un­der­pinned all his work.

Speak­ing at the time, he said Man­dela’s legacy had be­gun to fal­ter and he was not op­ti­mistic about the fu­ture of the new South Africa. – Sapa-AFP

Free: Lindiwe Mat­shik­iza

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