Al Aqsa School, Lenasia
Reading with the poets
Moderation: Michael Augustin
A big THANK YOU to Hawa Manier for making the visit at the Al Aqsa School possible.
Lenasia is a formerly exclusive Indian Township and is part of Johannesburg. During the Apartheid, city planners situated the Township for Johannesburg’s Indians near the Lenz Military Base. The name “Lenasia” is thought to be a combination of the words “Lenz” and “Asia”. Today, the suburb is steadily growing and reflects the Indian- South African culture in new mosques, malls, restaurants,… At the Al Aqsa School assembly hall the caravan poets each told the students, of whom some even confessed to write poetry as well, when they started writing and why. Of course, the reasons vary immensely. Interestingly enough, most of the poets feel the need to write (or their call to be a poet) in context of connecting the self to the surrounding environment and getting into a more intense relation with it. By that, also the need for understanding the world and making sense of it or even just to deal with life as such are important motors of the creative process.
Due to the lively atmosphere and interesting stories, the students seemed to be enjoying the small presentations as well as the one-poet-one-poem-performance afterwards.
Michael Augustin talking to the youngsters at school
After a short tour through the school in the Indian township “Lenasia”, we also went for a nice Indian Lunch in the area.
SKY project, Soweto
A Visit to Soweto – The World’s Most Famous Township
A big THANKS to Bob, who manages and runs the SKY project in Soweto and who showed us around in his community house for young and old people from Soweto. In his project, everybody helps everybody. Therefore, children and youngsters can come to him and his colorful school to use a computer, learn to play an instrument, engage in dancing classes or the community as such (etc.).
Vonani Bila and Mbali Bloom Kgosidintsi even held a short workshop for young poets from the area called “Shaping Reality Through Writing – Engaging Young People To Write” at the SKY library.
All other caravanists saw a “gumboot” performance by youngsters. This dance was inspired by mine workers, who invented this method of communication in the blatant mine shafts of South Africa. Unfortunately we did not record it, but you can see an example of Gumboot from another project right here!
Interestingly, Bob and especially Mindy Zhang engaged in a critical discussion in which it was made clear that the government does not sponsor or encourage any activities, events or projects Bob accomplished during his over 20- year long time of social community work in Soweto. The opposite seems to be true.
However, the community slowly grows and matures with its children participating in cultural activities of the center. Some of his former SKY- children are now off to study, but never forget their roots. A few sponsor food, others pay for the school uniforms of the children, again others help with the computer rooms. Just as Bob, who lived on the streets for a few years as a child and was then adopted by a good soul of Soweto, they want to give back what was given to them.
Nevertheless, Bob made it clear that it is for the community to raise a child, not vice versa: Still, the road to this goal is bumpy and long.
Therefore, the community center SKY is not entirely free. Parents who want their kids to be able to come here and learn and read and engage in the social network of Soweto have to give a small donation to the house. Not monetarily, but as a gesture of mutual symbiosis: Cleaning the windows or the floor, baking bread for the lunch or keeping the library tidy. This is how an environment of mutual respect and help is raised.
See his project’s website HERE.
Hector Pietersen Museum, Soweto
When Words Become the Fiercest Weapon – The Role of Poetry in The Struggle Against Apartheid and Colonialism
Moderation: Michael Gardiner
Music: The MIAGI Footprint Trio
African dinner with introduction into Storytelling
For Kliptown’s insider story we visited ebullient David Blom, a.k.a. Oom Bolo, local legend, film star and last surviving member of the Kliptown Snappers. Bolo regularly hosts young artists in his DIY house museum-cum-café, with ist remnants of the past, from vintage photos to kitchen cabinets from the 50s and 60s. Between bites of David’s babalas-curing kota, a quarter-loaf of bread stuffed with sausage, atchar and chips, he works his storyteller’s tongue around a huge knowledge of Kliptown’s history.
One of the many peculiar details in Oom Bolo’s restaurant- cum- museum
Kliptown: Sylvia Geist and Sujata Bhatt enjoyed the day in Kliptown/ Soweto and were easing down with the fellow poets at Oom Bolo’s after a long day!
But not only did Oom Bolo work his talent of entertaining the poet- caravan, but also well- known storyteller Madosini who flew in from Capetown for the event presented her mystical, yet also sometimes funny stories about love and life while playing on her traditional instruments.
In the end mantra- singing Indonesien poet Samar Gantang spontaneously joined in with Madosini for a fantastic improvised duett: Even though they never met each other and don’t even speak a common language. The instant communication between the two did not only astonish everybody in Oom Bolo’s living museum- restaurant, but touched the caravan’s members deeply.
See a video of the dream team by Stanislav Lvovsky on Youtube! Another one will follow!
Supported by Hartenberg Wine Estate