“For reasons unknown”
Lungile Dladla, a South African lesbian, activist and participant in the world acclaimed Faces and Phases portraiture series by 2013 Prince Claus Laureate, Zanele Muholi, has been denied a visa to travel to Berlin, Germany where the series is showing as part of a larger exhibition at Schwules Museum.
Dladla was invited by Constanza Macras/ DorkyPark German theatre in Feb.2014.
She was scheduled to travel to Berlin on the 22nd of March for a duration of two weeks to perform her poetry and songs in collaboration with Muholi and a member of the theatre. She has been replaced by Maureen Velile Majola, an activist and poet who already had a Schengen visa in her possession at the time of the crisis. Unfortunately, the hosts had already purchased the ticket for Dladla and were forced to change it at a price.
The organization Inkanyiso was founded by Muholi to work hand in hand with the participants in her visual projects, as contributors and affiliates, both home and away. It aims to provide opportunities for the individuals featured in Muholi’s work to meet with and perform for different audiences in various places as an interactive and learning opportunity for both parties.
A spokesperson for Inkanyiso has expressed deep disappointment at the rejection of Dladla’s visa application:
“We were dismayed that her visa application was denied, for unclear reasons. There could be a myriad of reasons that stopped them from issuing the visa because they cannot even state clearly to the host at Dorkypark why Dladla was not granted visa by the German Embassy.
Was it because she is unemployed, although all her travel costs were fully covered as well as her accommodation and living expenses during the two week stay.
Was it because she is a black lesbian – out – activist?
Was it because she is HIV positive, as she narrated her story in her published article?”
2013 February 28: I am not a Victim but a Victor…?
So many questions, all of which leave a bitter taste. One never likes to acknowledge that one has been discriminated against but it appears likely. And if “common sense” applies, is it the case that unemployed people cannot travel anywhere because they are poor?
Dladla presented all the documents requested for her application: return tickets paid in full, travel insurance and a commitment from her host to cover her food and expenses in Berlin. Most importantly, she was a participant in an exhibition and was due to perform in a reputable Berlin theatre. This expectation was cruelly shattered.
Embassies should be made aware how insulting it is that we in South Africa open our gates for their citizens to enter but when we want to visit their countries, they make it impossible, even with the requested supporting documents. I think that it should be made known to the embassies that contrary to popular belief, we do not all wish to live overseas. We love our home country and relish our climate, good food and the kindness of our people. However, we also can expand our horizons by travelling and experiencing other culture.
Obviously the scales of power are tipped but something needs to change. It’s a new day and a new dawn is breaking.
Other South Africans invited by Constanza who were granted visas include:
Mamela Nyamza who will be performing at Studio44, Berlin on the 28th & 29th March 2014.
Lucky Kele and Ronnie Maciel (Brazil), both will be performing @21h00 on the same day.
Maureen Velile Majola will also join AIR, Zanele Muholi & Jelena Kuljic in a Live Performance on the 5th April 2014 at STUDIO 44.
Mmakgosi Kgabi from Botswana now based in SA will perform Shades of a Queen at the same studio on Sat. 29th March 2014.
This is truly sad….I spoke to Lungile a week ago and I remember how excited she was for this opportunity to travel and share her work and life’s expieriences with others..