Text by Christie van Zyl
Photos by Lerato Dumse
This was our buzz on Sunday 10th December 2017. We took over social media and the newly launched Zeitz MoCAA Museum in the Scheryn Collection Arena. The Sisonke Collective founded by visual activist/photographer Professor Sir Muholi, wrapped up 16 Days of Activism with a bang. The Sisonke Collective is a radical crew of young black gender non-conforming and queer creatives who bring together music, dance, storytelling, poetry, performance arts and visual arts.
The show was simple, streamlined and intentional. The context was moulded by ‘Difficult Love’; a documentary which set the tone of the plight of life long mission that Muholi took on when realizing that there is no media that represents them. From there on Professor Sir Muholi equipped themselves with skills and resources to be able to tell their own stories. After which came the understanding that other young black queers need resource, skill and platforms for the very same reasons.
The ever stunning Odidiva, our resident drag queen, gracefully swept into the room with a very direct agenda to school the audience on a very set fabulosity which indeed followed to fill the room.
Beginning with a performance and speech from Odidiva herself highlighting how the Sisonke Collective took New York by storm at the NYC Performa Biennial of 2017. Wearing black through out the touring performances and exhibitions, we are constantly screaming that we are always in mourning. We are constantly making an awareness of and simultaneously mourning our existence.
We are constantly having to claim our space in history over and over again, to overcome the amnesia of our existence.
Thandile Mbatsha, Kyle Linde (dancers) and Thando on percussion had us breath taken with their stunning performance piece ‘Touch’. We are all very aware of the politics of touch and the constant belligerence and to some extents resistance towards consent. A concept deemed to be very small but with very large consequences. The constant need to make an awareness around these factors of relating each other can be daunting, exhausting and triggering. The work needs to be done though, otherwise we cannot complain about anything not being done about it if we do nothing in our own capacity.
What it is that we are doing (creating awareness) is what rang true through out the show with the various artists shining light on different issues surrounding 16 Days of Activism. Musician Tracey Rose graced the stage on the wave of ‘Wathinta umfazi, wathinta imbokodo’, yes the proverbial ‘You strike a woman, you strike a rock’. Yes, we have to keep on saying it for our self-affirmation, so that
we are not constantly living in fear!
Singer Yanela Ncetani Mhlawuli takes to the stage in a regal Vicky Sampson look just to do a war cry stating freedom, ‘Yamemeza intokazi yomuntu bo. Yayihleli ngasemgodini ecaleni kwamaThafa. Thina sine lungelo lokuthanda umntu lokuthanda nabani kulelizwe esilithandayo kulelizwe lethu elihle. Freedom oh freedom rise for all’. Exclamations of a love that exist within freedom which should be celebrated. Spread more love, dissipate the hate.
A humbling, grounding and unifying ‘Nkosi Sikelela iAfrika’ was sang to wrap up the first event and artists to be hosted at the Zeitz MoCAA institution, alongside the burning of red candles in commemoration of those we have lost to hate crimes . Not the national anthem but the prayer hymn and political statement that we are praying for strength, for blessings, love and support to keep on fighting this good fight. As we work our way into making our queer existence visible in galleries, museums, media, institutions of knowledge and within society. The aim is to also influence the information that is circulating mediums and spaces of knowledge around our existence so that it is our stories told by us, for us.
I gave a final shout out at this show to the parents and family members of the crew that were present in the audience. It was important to acknowledge Odidiva’s parents who are elderly with Diva’s Father being a pastor too. To acknowledge sisters, nieces and nephews of queer individuals because it shows support, acceptance and acknowledgment. It shows respect for our preferences and being seen as a human regardless of difference. I gave a shout out especially to our mothers that have seen so much surrounding us their children, with a poem titled ‘For the Grievance Ingrained Mothers’; because of what a friend we have in grievance. Whether our mothers are aware of it or not, we can see how much no child goes unnoticed.
So to end 16 Days of Activism, do something about the things that bother you pertaining to injustice otherwise you forfeit your right to complain. Always remember that you are not alone.
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