Laureates protest summit over Dalai Lama visa debacle.

The 2014 Nobel Peace Laureates Summit initially scheduled to be held in Cape Town this month, has been suspended due to the South African government failing to grant the Dalai Lama a visa to attend the summit.

The ANC led government has received heavy criticism from Laureates, NGO’s, opposition parties and public figures following the government’s  decision to not grant a visa to His Holiness, in a bid to allegedly avoid angering China which views the Tibetan spiritual leader as a campaigner for Tibetan independence. 

China and South Africa are both part of BRICS- an association of five emerging national economies that represent 18% of the world’s economy at large. BRICS consists of countries Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. China is also South Africa’s biggest single trading partner and an estimation of 350 000 Chinese have settled in SA since 2000.

The city of Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille announced earlier this month that the summit would be suspended following refusals by other Laureates to attend in protest for His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. “The National Government has treated our request and that of the Laureates themselves with distain, and in so doing showed that they are more intend on pleasing Beijing than with ensuring a prestigious international event is held in South Africa, which was intended to celebrate the late Nelson Mandela and 20 years of democracy in South Africa,” said the Mayor addressing reporters at the Civic Centre last week Thursday. De Lille further accused the SA government of undermining the countries international standing and of arrogance and inefficiency.

The value of international exposure and visitor spend would have brought in an estimation of R60 million worth of economic opportunity as the summit would have been the largest gathering of Nobel Peace Laureates with 14 Peace Laureates and 11 Peace Laureates organisations, according to De Lille.

In a letter to the host committee, Laureates from the Nobel Women’s Initiative laid out reasons why they had decided to not attend the summit and expressed their disappointment in both the South African government and China. The laureates said that their decision was not just about SA failing to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama. “It is also about the Chinese governments expressed policy of non-interference in the internal policies of other nations –apparently except when it comes to the Dalai Lama,” they said, also adding that they would be willing to participate in the summit if it were hosted where the Dalai Lama would be able to attend.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in a statement lambasted the ANC led government referring to them as a lickspittle bunch that he was ashamed to call his government. Tutu also added that he couldn’t believe that the government could shoot itself in the same foot thrice over.

The Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and is close friends with fellow Laureate Tutu who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. South African Laureates also include Albert Luthuli-1961; FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela who were co recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. 

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in the town of Dharamshala in India since 1959 after fleeing Tibet.

Mayor De Lille affirmed that the summit would not be cancelled, rather it would continue in association with the city of Cape Town and an alternative host city. The date nor venue for the summit has not yet been confirmed.

Celebrating the French culture

The Durban University of Technology International Education and Partnerships Directorate held a FRENCH DAY AT DUT programme, on Wednesday 1st October, at Ritson Campus-DUT.

Hosted by Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment Executive Dean Theo Andrew, the programme was attended by DUT Vice-Chancellor and Principal Prof A.C Bawa, French ambassador to South Africa Her Excellency Ms Elisabeth Barbier, eThekwini Municipality Head of International and Governance Relations Mr Eric Apelren and other well respected academics.

Head of International and Governance Relations Mr Eric Apelren, presented an overview of Durban sister city cooperation programme with the French speaking city of Le Port.

The programme included an exhibition of works from the DUT departments of Jewellery Design, Fashion, Photography, Media, Language and Translation, Alliance Francaise and Art for Humanity respectively. 

Representatives from the various faculties took turns delivering speeches related to collaborations between South Africa and France and Durban’s sister city Le Port, hence the partnership between the Durban University of Technology and the University of Reunion. Campus France University Cooperation’s Officer Ms. Chrisna spoke about studying opportunities and scholarships in France for South African Students.  

Other presentations were that of aspects of French culture, French language teaching in DUT, modules in French language in DUT as well as perspectives from two current French exchange students.

Acapella singers from the Department of Drama and Production studies serenaded the guests with traditional South African and French music pieces. A French themed three course lunch prepared by Master Chef Jean-Paul Videau and students from the Hospitality Department.

The programme was sealed off with a French Day concert featuring a deejay set from Labella from Reunion Island.

Transparency and accountability within funding institutions

A set of High Level Norms and Standards for Grant Funding were laid out in a document presented to beneficiaries by the National Lotteries Board during the third National Lotteries Board (NLB) 2014 Indaba in Boksburg from the 22nd until the 24th of September.

The document is a draft that will be a living document- giving insight into the NLB as a funding institution and how it operates -after all stakeholders and beneficiaries add their inputs. The main objectives for the development of norms and standards include reflecting a high level of transparency and accountability regarding all structures and processes. The document also serves to establish a clear mandate for the NLB in terms of beneficiaries and priorities and to improve communication and strengthen the relationship between the NBL and the beneficiaries.

The NLB came into existence after the development of the Lotteries’ Act of 1997 and as South Africa celebrates 20 years of freedom and democracy, the NLB celebrates 15 years of existence.

The Lotteries’ Act No.57 of 1997 was amended and the New Lotteries’ Amendment Act was passed in December 2013. The new Amendment act will see the NLB restructured into the National Lotteries Commission and will see the appointment of a commissioner. According to the new amendment act, the board shall in consultation with the minister of Trade and Industry, appoint a person with suitable qualifications and experience. The commissioner will be accountable to the board for the performance of all financial, administrative and clerical functions. The commissioner will also hold office for a five year term and may only have their contract renewed once.

Speaking at the Indaba, NBL CEO Mrs Thabang Mampane revealed that the changes would be implemented on the 1st of April 2015.  Mampane also outlined the National Lottery Distributional Trust Fund (NLDTF) statistics which state that since inception, the NLDTF has distributed R18 billion.

 According to the Lotteries Act, The NLDTF receives 34% of all National Lottery revenues every week and distributes these funds to good causes across different sectors namely: Charities sector- 45%; Arts, Culture and Heritage- 28%; Sports and Recreation- 22% and Miscellaneous Purposes- 5%.   

Some of the topics discussed during the Indaba were those of governance and compliance by NGO’s and NPO’s; poverty statistics in South Africa; fraud prevention, monitoring, evaluating and compliance in funding institutions; job creation for youth through funding and public private partnerships.

The Indaba also allowed for beneficiaries to network with each other as well as engage with members of the NLB during the three day course of the conference.  

The beneficiaries and NLB were urged not to misuse the funds or engage in fraud or corruption as such would backtrack the progress of the NLDTF.

“Serve your community and not yourself,” said NLB board member Ms. Zodwa Ntuli speaking to the beneficiaries during the Indaba. “We are going to rely on you to ensure that you are honest and you can point out those that are fraudulent. It is not the job of the government to ensure that there is no corruption,” she added.

Taking street art to the galleries

Amending space. Swinging compass. Transporting Zone. Rearranging land. Adapting district. These words are the essence of Shifting Territories, an initiative of bringing street art to the gallery, hence shifting the perception of the art form.

It is not often that one finds an exhibition of street art at a gallery, one would even argue that the two are an oxymoron as they speak an entirely different language, but Shifting Territories is about exactly that. The Shifting Territories exhibition opened on Tuesday evening (16/09/2014) at the KZNSA.

Curated by Iain Ewok Robinson, the exhibition had three parts to it. There was a projector displaying videos showing the artists creating their work. The second part was the display of the artists’ individual works with QR codes besides them and the last part was a combination of the individual works traced on the floor.

“Street art is about constraints, this exhibition is about constraints,” said Ewok. He also added that the exhibition was part of an initiative to contest the perception that people have of the art form.

“The curator stretched our abilities and bent our minds by making us work blind folded and with our opposite hands and then trace it on the floor,” said street artist 4GVIN, who was one of the six artists responsible for the works displayed. The group exhibition was put together by artists; MOOK LION, Pastelheart, Stops, Ewok and Tymz9ine.

“Street Art doesn’t speak to its immediate environment, it doesn’t speak about its immediate environment. It joins the environment, attaching itself and all of its ego and contradictions and politics, forcing itself to be seen, experienced, witnessed, and ultimately reacted with. It claims its space unashamedly, forcing us to question its existence, to contest its existence, and when we cannot provide any adequate rationalization for why it shouldn’t exist, we must eventually accept it,” said the concept note written by sociolinguist and educator William Kelleher referring to the street art culture of writing the city.

Ewok said that conversations between street artists and the city had started and the Shifting Territories exhibition was just the beginning.

2014 Digital Arts Festival, a platform for Students

The Durban University of Technology successfully hosted its first Arts and Design Digital Festival at City Campus over the past weekend, 12th and 13th September respectively.

“A student and staff showcase promoting connectivity, collaboration and creativity. The #DUTDigifest is experimental in many respects, stimulating engagement with the digital- both technical and conceptually,” said DUT Faculty of Arts and Design Acting Executive Dean, Dr Rene Alicia Smith.

The various activities within the programme included a staff exhibition, QR code exhibition, creative code workshop, film festival, animation workshop, fashion show, talk fest, academic discussions and displays of works by students and staff from the respective departments within the Faculty of Arts and Design.

Live painting, poetry, dancing, bands, hip hop performances and comedy are but just few of the entertainment activities that were taking place at the main stage throughout the course of the festival.

“Our students and graduates of DUT’S Faculty of Arts and Design should be identifiable by their innovative, creative exploration of themes  and concepts; engagement with local and international contexts and ability to navigate the digital world,” said Dr Smith, also adding that she was proud of the talent and work the students produced and displayed.

The digital festival allowed students and staff to portray their own understanding of democracy through various art forms from fashion, film, poetry, visual art and other respective forms as per the theme of the festival: “democracy 20/20”.

Digital Arts Festival Curator, Suzy Bell said the primary outcome of the festival was to create a professional and contemporary space for the DUT students to exhibit and expand their creative portfolios. She also added that the students got the opportunity to enjoy media attention and engage with potential clients and some were able to sell their works.

Giving identity to the working class through art

Durban University of Technology Fine Art student Bongani Khanyile received a merit award (top 7) in the countries longest running art competition, the Sasol New Signatures Art Competition 2014.

After having his entries rejected for two consecutive years, Bongani’s works were finally selected  part of the record 587 works that were received from artists from all over South Africa and he was shortlisted as one of the 110 finalists.

The Sasol New Signatures Art Competition is an annual competition which was established in the 1960s by the Association of Arts Pretoria and is the longest running national arts competition in South Africa. It is also recognised for giving young emerging artists whom have not had a solo exhibition an opportunity.

The winners were announced on the 3rd of September at the Pretoria Arts Museum. The first prize went to Elizabeth Jane Balcomb for her works the weighed and measured series receiving R100 000 and a chance for a solo exhibition in the next competition. Runner up Adelheid Camilla von Maltitz received R25 000 for her art works bodies. The five merit award recipients received R10 000 each.

Fine Art student Bongani Khanyile’s art works were a series of ceramic helmets which he press moulded with clay and each designed differently. His work looked at the working class society and how it is seen a subject of labour. “A helmet is known as a protective gear but I chose use the helmets as a way of protecting the workers from the stereotypical glaze that is imposed on them,” he said. He also added that by elevating the helmets from plastic to ceramics, the helmet were now given a superior significance.

“These helmets are a society of the working class people who are not generally acknowledged as individuals but rather as subjects of labour. I am trying to challenge that idea and give each helmet a presence and identity of its own,” said Khanyile.

The different depictions on the ceramic helmets series talk about class, land ownership, security, comfort and other factors that affect the working class society.

Prior to the Sasol New Signatures exhibition and award ceremony, the young artist had just returned from a month long trip to china between Fuzhou and Shanghai. The trip was a result of a portrait he made of ancient Chinese philosopher Conficious, for the launch of the Conficious Institute.  In his stay in china, he attended seminars and held an exhibition, Dialogue DUT FAFU (Fujian Agricultural Forestry University) as well as a summer camp hosted by Shanghai Normal University along with students from other African countries. 

The future for this young artist seems very bright as he will also be exhibiting at the Hilton Arts Festival from the 18th till the 21st of September.

Review- Miners Shot Down

South Africa’s first post –apartheid Massacre, that is what Cape Town born filmmaker Rehad Desai’s Miners shot down documentary looks into.

It has been two years since the country’s deadliest act of police violence since the end of apartheid where 34 miners of Lonmin Platinum Mine in Marikana South Africa were brutally killed by police while striking for better wages in August 2012.

Miners Shot Down is an eye opening and thought provoking  documentary by South African director Rehad Desai that gives a detailed, uncensored and profoundly moving look into the Marikana Massacra using the point of view of the miners. The documentary looks closely at the six days of the strike leading up to the massacre and subconsciously forces the audience to take a closer look not only at the way the miners were cold bloodedly and intentionally killed by police but also at the relationship between the trade unions and the African National Congress which is the country’s ruling party.

“I couldn’t ignore it, it was much too big, much too dramatic and upsetting for me. I had to do something for these miners. I just felt that I had to give them a voice,” said Desai. “If authority strikes in such a brutal fashion, artists have to pick a side and indicate which side they are on,” said Desai. 

The documentary tells a heartfelt and convincing story using the Lonmin security footage, South African Police Services footage, snippets from the still ongoing Farlam Inquiry as well as interviews from lawyers, politicians and strike leaders to trace the six days of the strike before the Massacre. 

In the detailed encounters of the days leading up to the arguably uncalled-for Marikana Massacre it becomes evident that the shooting was somewhat premeditated or rather expected as four mortuary vans were booked to be on standby on that day and ironically, ambulanced were denied entry until an hour after the shooting.  

The documentary also highlights the effects of the conflict of interest that rose after founder of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Cyril Ramaphosa became a BEE partner of London Mining consortium and who termed the strike as a “criminal act” in an email when no violent acts had occurred.The war of turf between NUM which was once unrivalled and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) is revealed in this documentary and we are shown how NUM fell out of favour with the miners hence AMCU became their only hope. Cyril Ramaphosa is shown in a before-and-after manner where we are first reminded of him-with the help of archived footage- as a unionist pioneering for union justice and the after is played out with him now being a multi-millionaire businessman who is in the board of the platinum mine that members of the union he founded are ironically striking against. It becomes much clearer why Ramaphosa plays safe and avoids going deep with his answers in his interview in the documentary.

What also stands out or rather raises questions is the refusals of individuals who are central in the massacre to be interviewed, individuals including president of South Africa Jacob Zuma, former police minister Nathi Mthethwa, police commissioner Riah Phiyega, NUM Secretary General Frans Baleni and the Lonmin executive.  

Desai highlights the violation of human rights of the miners and the dialogue that many see for the first time in the documentary where the miners are communicating with the police takes away the argument that police put forth saying the miners were charging towards them with weapons and they acted in self-defence.

Miners Shot Down does more than just document the massacre but it also gives identity and dignity to the miners and the families and makes one question the state that our country is in 20 years into its democracy.

Latest March/April newsletter out: Get the latest Human Rights Day Celebration Week news and more inside

This past week saw Art for Humanity in partnrship with Democracy Developement Program, Durban University of Technology to bring for the first time, a week long Human Rights Celebration proudly sponsored by Ofxam. The week was jam packed with activities for everyone: from live poetry and music, seminars, debates and much more. All the weeks events can be viewed on our first brand new newsletter for the year. The newsletter also includes an update on The Art of Human Rights Project and the Gatekeepers performance that thrilled in December last year. Please CLICK here. Enjoy! 


Human Rights Day Celebration 2014

Art For Humanity together with its partners, invites you to Celebrate Human Rights.

This first ever week long celebration will be an entertainment filled week. There'll be

poetry sessions,fashion shows, live Bands and so much more. Come celebrate with

us from the 17th - 21st of March. Don't Miss out.

Clicke here to see the invite: Celebrate Human Rights.

A word from AFH Director

 Statement by Jan Jordaan On the evening of the 02/03/14 my personal Facebook page was hacked and unlawfully accessed by persons unknown to me or any of my acquaintances.  Photographs of a pornographic and incriminating nature were subsequently posted on my page. I do not know any of the people appearing in these photographs .I have deleted these photographs and suspended my account and have no intention to return to this network.  I do apologise for any distress or damage caused to any of my Facebook friends resulting from the above and can assure you that I found myself in an equally compromised position. Prior to the above incident my cell- phone was stolen and I suspect the phone was used to access my account. This I have reported to the SAPS.