We’ve been busy…
I am falling in love with Jozi (Joberg)
Today we were welcome in by Khulumani Support Group East Rand in Katlehong- about 45 minutes outside of the city. Khulumani is a nationally organized community defense council, with 55,000 members in South Africa. In Katlehong specifically the community is doing amazing organizing work to address decades of exploitation by IMB, Mercedes Benz, Daimer, and a fourth company I can not presently recall and the South African government. Currently Khulumani has filed a class action law suit in the New York courts USA, against this group of corporations. The South African government has joined the case on the side of the corporations. Recently the New York courts ruled that Khulmani’s legal team could open certain South African government files. The group asked that we spread the word about their struggle and their victory. Khulumani is actively demanding reparations for the communities effected by exploitation, state violence, and apartheid.
This amazing sharing of purpose, victories and struggles was arranged by Judy Seidman.
Judy Seidman, it has been one of the greatest honors of my life to meet this remarkable woman.
It is because of the book, Red on Black, which Judy researched, editing and composed that we first gained access to the breath and power of the South African poster movement. We have both poured over this book the past two years. To get to talk in person with Judy about her life, her experiences as an artists and printer during the struggle her, her role with Medu Art Ensemble, her friendship and creative relationship with Thami Mnyele, her current projects and her convictions has been such a pleasure and an honor. To travel half way around the world and find individuals and groups who are thinking about the worlds problems in similar ways and designing responses to these quandries with ideas and solutions that resonate so specifically with the work we do, is humbling, inspiring and mind-blowing.
People here have lived through extreme state repression and the stories we have heard are the extraordinary acts of people who lived their lives with the conviction that apartheid had to end.
Listening and talking with folks, it becomes clear that everyone used media all the time.
And groups who are experiencing successes today are also employing media to accomplish their goals.
Print shops, radio stations, alternative advertising, community events, community art processes, libraries, computer labs, photography, newspapers, all these tools were and still remain essential resources.
Last night I stayed with the Keleketla crew who have gained access to this amazing old Drill Hall in the center of Jozi. They have a book library, programs for youth, an internet cafe, art studios, dj equipment, print shop, and a mission to live in Jozi and build a community center of arts and culture. They are hustling big time to put organizational infrastructures in place, to grow their resources and programs, to make beautiful art and keep shit moving. It was beautiful to be in Jozi at night, the crazy buzz of the day time taxis and street venders melts to quite. The Drill Hall is an impressive old building, the library is beautifully organized. I am so honored to have met these feirce individuals and to spend the night talking talking talking. The artists there are turning out incredible incredible art- stencils, drawing/photographs, silkscreens. I will eventually include photos and video. Wanna give a shout out to Keleketla, keeping it real Jozi.
We leave for Cape Town tomorrow. We have been hustling on the ground to connect with folks who were part of organizing or teaching at the Community Arts Project(CAP) in Capetown. This was one of the major community print shops during the struggle and an impressive collection of posters and tee shirts were produced there. I am excited for the road trip, to see the Cape and the penguins and to keep unpacking personal narrative about how silk screen shops and the art they produced were crucial to the anti-apartheid struggle.
One of the Keleketla crew, Tshepo who is from Soweto was telling me about stories he was told…
To announce meetings, which had to be at churches, that was the only safe place, the posters would get printed and hung at night. The police would have them down by 10 am but by then everyone would know where to go.
Huge love from SA.
Thinking of you all all the time.
This struggle is global- we in this together.