Artists thank Madiba for creativity
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