I have been trying to upload photographs for some time.
It is late, I sit in a suburb of Jozi (J-berg).
I want to give you pictures more than words, but for now
words seem to be all this technology will allow.
It has been years of dreaming of this journey.
I remember first talking with Tracy about this project,
waiting for grants that may or may not come, dancing
around work schedules, holding our breath and finally
We followed our planes trajectory on a monitor in front of
Tracy’s seat. From Atlanta to Johannesburg without refueling.
Through the airplane window the landscape rose to meet us,
I am farther from home than I have ever been, in a
country that twists and turns, that seeps with a pain and
and a strength that is both completely new and yet
somehow familiar. The country heads towards autumn and
we drive through neighborhoods behind walls and gates
and barb wire. We smell eucalyptus trees, drive on the other side
of the road and eat delicious home cooked food.
There are twelve official languages here, words and meaning
slip and sway over and around this amazing pool of sounds and vocabulary.
My mind cannot wander far from the injustice of race and racism, the same
thoughts that ride with me through the streets of Philadelphia. Different
Since landing our countless questions about the struggle, print shops, posters and t-shirts,
the details, and the spelling of names have been received with patience again
and again, at table after table, with a generosity that is humbling and liberating.
Julia Grey is our local connection, providing information and strategic advise,
while also driving us about. An old-school journalist
and a Jozi local her participation and wisdom are invaluable pieces
to this trip, making it possible for us to cover so much of ground.
We have been granted this amazing opportunity to explore together the role that
silk screen posters and t-shirts played in the anti-apartheid movement and to connect
with arts and culture organizations working inside the legacy of post apartheid South Africa.
History books and art books have sprung to life as the authors of South Africa’s
anti- apartheid struggle have sat in dinning rooms and cafes sharing the facts of their lives.
Julia’s partner and our other gracious hosts, Rehana Rossouw, a brilliant journalist has shared and continues to share her involvement in building a youth movement in Cape Town, her role as a collective member of Grassroots newspaper, and her participation in the ANC. She speaks to the role media played in her organizing work, “What is the point of a protest if no one comes… We all used media all the time.”
From Rehana we have heard of giant banners painted through the night, each hour passing bringing them closer morning and to the event. Huge banners draped and tied over mini-buses drying in the wind, arriving to the event on time. We have heard about door to door with petitions, silk screened tee shirts, pamphlets dropped illegally at factories, late nights spinning the linoleum press, late nights, all night, graffiti and painted placards on the side of the highway, waking up each morning, “Freedom or Death” burning in the stomach.
Tomorrow another post- and hopefully pictures.