Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Education through art and poetry

The annual Celebrate Durban festival was taken to local schools this year in an initiative to educate learners on the importance of the festivals highlighted principals: Freedom, Joy and Celebration. The Durban municipality has partnered with popular human rights advocates Art for Humanity (AFH) in creating awareness of the values of freedom of expression to school children.

The workshops featured fine-art students from the Durban University of Technology, which was chosen to participate, as the DUT is recognised as a creatively driven Institute that endorses the work of AFH. Several poets from the esteemed BAT Centre were also invited to facilitate the workshop. Together, these artists planned an exciting day of painting and poetry recitals for the designated schools of Addington Primary School, Durban Girls High, Durban Children’s Home and Umthombo Children’s home.

In the light of Women’s’ month, the focus was on celebration of women as well as the voice they uphold in society. In the workshops learners were requested to create artworks of images and poetry centered on women and children’s rights.

“Children must have fun and enjoy their lives” said Nonhlanhla Davis, a learner from the Durban Children’s Home, holding up her painting of The Right to play- a picture of a playground.
Another learner, grade 7, Ntokozo Moya, stated “Children have the right to see the beauty of life.”

Many children in the workshop had a positive reaction to children’s rights and were interactive in poetry recitals. “I love poetry. It is a great way to express yourself.” said Babongile Nzuzu, Grade 10, Durban Girls High learner, who is also part of the schools poetry club ‘Rhymecite’.
The Celebrate Durban project was successful in developing artistic creativity and appreciation of the arts, but also much needed creative and reflective thinking skills and confidence in self expression.

The workshop also encourages teachers to get involved with advocating serious matters through art by initiating the concept of freedom of expressionOver time, it is anticipated that the values and the creative process of producing and reflecting on art – their own and that of professionals – become part of the personality, thus influencing and enriching the character of the person, and in turn the quality of the community.

Images from the Workshop

The ‘Women for Children’ banner was erected at the Bat Centre for the workshop

DUT 3rd year Fine art students: Zama Mthiyane, Pakisa Tsekiso, Katherine Symons and Stephanie Balkisson coordinated the art workshops

Busiswa Gqulu, a vivacious poet from The Bat Centre, performs poetry to her audience

Cara Walters from AFH addresses the learners on the significance of children’s rights in society.

Learners and teachers work together to create a work of art.

Intriguing, unique and thought-provoking, were the artworks produced by Durban Girls High.

“Dialogue” in 2010

Art for Humanity’s current project, “Dialogue among Civilisations”, is an initiative that is based on the global social ills of racism, xenophobia and the plight of refugees. The project will involve the collaboration between artists and poets from Africa and those countries who participated in the 2006 Soccer World Cup. The participants will be invited to create work on the theme of identity, land, object and belief. The ultimate objective is to elicit and challenge the South African public’s views on xenophobia, racism, refugees and foreign visitors in and to South Africa. These views are presently couched in an endemic magnitude of racism, xenophobia and victimisation of those individuals and families seeking refugee status in South Africa or as visitors and amongst South Africans themselves.

The project has been warmly received by everyone who has been exposed to it, with statements endorsing the projects having been received from organisations and individuals including Ms. Sherylle Delene Dass, Lawyers for Human Rights Refugee and Migrant Rights Project, artists Lisa Lou and Mick Haggerty, Professor Alan F. Roberts from the UCLA Department of World Arts and Culture, Marilyn Martin, Director of Iziko Museum, poet and short story writer Vivienne Glance, Father Michael Lapsley Director of the Institute for Healing of Memories, Manuela Mesa, Director of the Centre of Education and Peace Research (CEIPAZ), Federico Mayor Zaragoza the president of CEIPAZ, Deputy Mayor Cr. Jiosefa Gavidi, City of Suva, Coalition of Cities against Discrimination and Racism - Asia pacific Region, peace activist Ela Gandhi, as well as Jay Naidoo, Chairperson of the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA). See link: For endorsers previously featured.

AFH has also secured the collaborative participation of artists and poets such as Churchill Madikida with Lebogang Mashile from South Africa, William Kelly with Joel Deane from Australia and Mel Edwards with Jayne Cortez from US, other secured participants are poet Shailja Patel from Kenya and Egyptian artist Amira Wasfy. AFH also plans to invite respected artists and poets that are making a significant difference in their countries and communities.

A catalogue based on the project will be published in time for the project launch 21st March 2010, South Africa Human Rights Day, at the Durban Art Gallery. The conference on the theme 'Art, Freedom of Expression, Human Rights and Peace' is being planned for the same week after which the public advocacy campaign will be initiated to also coincide with the Soccer World Cup, when South Africa will have a large numbers of guests from the rest of Africa and the international community visiting SA.

The Publication/Catalogue to be published early in 2010 will include the contributions from artists, poets, writers, educationalist and human rights activists representing the international community. Please submit your art, poetry and writings against racism, xenophobia and reflections on the plight of refugees accompanied by a short biography and a photograph of you to AFH by July 2009. This will appear under a special section Global Voices in the publication.

AFH invites calls from individuals, organisations and galleries who wish to exhibit the portfolio featuring prints and poetry form the project in 2010 and thereafter.

For more information on the Dialogue among Civilisations Project, visit
or contact AFH

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Profiles on Dialogue among Civilisations Poets, Artists and Endorsers

Joel Deane, Poet: Australia

Joel Deane is an Australian poet, novelist, and speechwriter. He has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1990s, working as a technology journalist. He has also worked as a press secretary and speechwriter for the Australian Labor Party. Deane's first novel, Another, was considered a “striking debut” by Melbourne Weekly. His first collection of poetry, Subterranean Radio Songs, was short-listed for the 2006 Anne Elder Award, and has been called "brilliantly energetic" and "virtuosic" by Australian Book Review.

Lebogang Mashile, Poet
South Africa

Lebogang Mashile is a young performer, writer and facilitator. Mashile studied law and international relations at Wits University, but realised she could best make a positive contribution to the transformation of South Africa by honouring her love for writing and poetry.
She is not only a published author, but an executive producer, actress, independent record producer, corporate and independent event MC, life skills facilitator and television series presenter.
Her much-anticipated collection of poetry In A Ribbon of Rhythm (Struik) was published in 2005 and was one of the featured titles for Exclusive Books’ Homebru campaign.
At present, Lebo is the executive producer and presenter for L’Atitude, a concept of her own creation and she has been touring South Africa as the official spokesperson for the Dawn Nationwide Poetry Competition.

Lebo was named by Cosmopolitan as one of South Africa’s Awesome Women of 2005.
URL link:

Kim Berman, Artist
South Africa

Kim Berman is the Director of Artist Proof Studio; a community based Printmaking Centre in Newtown, and a Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at the University of Johannesburg. She received her B.F.A. from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1981 and her M.F.A. from the School of Tufts University, Mass, USA, in 1989.
She has lectured and exhibited widely in South Africa and internationally. She is currently registered at Wits University for a PHD on the role of the visual arts in social change in South Africa.

Kim is the 2001 Runner up in the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) Awards 2001 in the category. Kim has also worked with Art for Humanity (AFH) in the Break the Silence and Women for Children projects.

Jan-Kees van de Werk, Poet

Jan Kees van de Werk is a full time poet, writer, photographer and filmmaker. He has been publishing African Literature in Dutch translation for more than two decades. He lived for many years in Togo, where he co-founded a publishing house. He is also one of the co-founders of the African Publishers Network (APNET) and has been organizing various festivals and numerous literature-manifestations in the Netherlands and Africa.

Van de Werk put African literature on the map in the Netherlands with his series Afrikaanse Bibliotheek which featured 60 titles of African novels, short stories and poetry translated into Dutch. In 1992 he received the Dick Scherpenzeel award for literary journalism for his extensive work on African Literature.

Shailja Patel, Poet

Kenyan poet, playwright and theatre artist, Shailja Patel, has performed her work in venues ranging from New York's Lincoln Centre, to Durban's Poetry Africa Festival.
She is currently developing a one-woman spoken-word theater show, Migritude. Migritude has already received extensive media coverage and was recently selected for the International Women Art Festival in Vienna in early 2006 and has received Ford Foundation funding for a Kenyan tour, and an NPN Creation Fund Award. Shailja Patel is also an outspoken member of a new group called Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice.

Marcelo Brodsky, Photographer

Marcelo Brodsky was born in 1954. He has had solo exhibitions in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, New York, Rotterdam, Montevideo, Rome, Caracas and Amsterdam. He is a member of the Commission for the Monument to the Victims of State Terrorism, Buenos Aires and is on the Board of Directors of Buena Memoria, a non-governmental organization dedicated to work for human rights in Argentina. He runs Latinstock, the premier photo agency in Latin America.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The World in Dialogue

In a world where wars continue to invade our homes and neighboring countries, refugees and asylum seekers are people we are always going to have around us. There exists a need for us all to be able to live in harmony without xenophobic attacks on refugees, in an effort to address issues in relation to this Art for Humanity initiated ‘Dialogue among Civilizations’.

The project involving the collaboration between artists and poets from Africa and countries that participated in the 2006 Soccer World Cup aim to inspire the viewer with moral ownership of the values associated with art and poetry and to internalize the messages embedded in the collection.

The project presently enjoys the participation of artists such as Amira Wasfy from Egypt, Churchill Madikida and Kim Berman from SA, Melvin Edwards and poet Jayne Cortez from the US as well as William Kelly from Australia.
As the deadline of Oct. 2009 is slowly coming closer enlisting the participation from the Africa continent and elsewhere is now becoming more urgent. The launch of the exhibition is set for 21st March 2010, South Africa’s Human Rights Day and an exciting conference is being planned with the focus on ‘Art, Freedom of Expression, Human Rights and Peace’.

Australia and ‘Dialogue’

It is noteworthy to mention the support that ‘Dialogue’ has been receiving from the Australian High Commission in Pretoria through the continues efforts of Mr. William Blomfield, Third Secretary. The project has been widely publicized in Australia and numerous enquiries regarding potential participation has been received from writers, artists and poets.

This support has prompted AFH to add a special section to the publication/catalogue which will feature the contributions of all of those that might not directly contribute to the portfolio and the exhibitions program. In this instance AFH wish to express our sincere gratitude to the Australian High Commission and in particular to Mr. Blomfield.

It is hoped that the other foreign missions in South Africa would follow suit and in partnership with their colleagues in the Australian High Commission would contribute to the success of the project and ensure a worthwhile contribution to the future cultural heritage of all.

AFH’s projects feature an endorsement campaign which represents an important aspect of our projects as it combines the creative and associated inspirational nature of art with the insight and wisdom of the representatives from the world of human rights advocacy. By endorsing our various initiatives, those individuals and organizations recognize our work as being relevant to their own ideals and objectives.

The Dialogue project has also been endorsed nationally and internationally by high profiled individuals and organizations such as Prof Neil Mitchell, Chair at the University of Aberdeen, Prof Roy du Pré, Vice Chancellor, DUT, Richard Demarco, Artist, Iratxe Momoitio, Director of Guernica Peace Museum, Judge Edwin Cameron, Supreme Court of Appeal, Justice Albie Sachs, Constitutional Court, Breyten Breytenbach Director of the Goree Institute, William Kelly, Artist, Visual Arts Network of South Africa (VANSA), Ms Nomabelu Mvambo-Dandala, Executive Director of Diakonia Council of Churches, Sherylle Delene Dass, Lawyers for Human Rights Refugee and Migrant Rights Project.

Art for Humanity welcomes calls from individuals and organizations who would like to host the Dialogue among Civilisations collection of art and poetry in the year 2010 and beyond.