By Mandisi Sindo
Theatre4Change Arts Project
Artistic Director, Actor, and Community Activist
Before I start my presentation let me thank the Ghent University, Sofie and Marieke for inviting me to this fruitful symposium. I would also like to thank all theatre makers for the hard work they have been doing in bringing change in the South African Theatre. May Qamata be with you at all times.
This presentation comes from the heart of a young, black, Xhosa speaking South African who is willing to see change.
When I received the invitation to speak about my work at this conference I was not hesitant at all. The theme itself describes our reality in South Africa - we want to Remove Apartheid too, but the question is HOW are we going to remove it? The trauma of the collective black past keeps us looking back on where we come from as black people and our creativity, just like our identity, is based on those traumatic moments.
Apartheid, racism, discrimination is something psychological, something that one is taught while growing up. It will never be easy to remove these issues from our society and it's not something that can be changed overnight. Only time will tell. People hate other people because they were taught to hate and discriminate against other people.
Example of Interest on Removal Apartheid:
The Fees and Rhodes Must Fall movement in South Africa seeks change within the universities. These movements are initiated and fuelled by young people fighting for their educational rights. This is a fight against their own government. As Nelson Mandela said "If the ANC does to you what the apartheid government did to you, then you must do to the ANC what you did to the apartheid government". It's a sign of the ages - it takes us back to the olden days when young people of 1976 fought the National Party and Afrikaner rule - now they want free education and the land to be returned to its rightful owners. The media is steering information regarding Fees/ Rhodes Must Fall along very windy roads. The good, the collectivity, the comradeship and intellectual qualities of a strike aimed at the future of the country is swept under the carpet for the sake of government’s legitimacy. These are cases of people not willing to see change.
THE TRUTH IS:
The removal of statues and renaming of streets will never remove the apartheid. Apartheid can not be removed. It is rooted in the psychological nature of some. Apartheid needs to be demolished. Government structures need to deal with acts of racism and inequality within a democracy effectively and immediately. We do not need to remove apartheid, we must destroy it.
Segregation is a predominant social issue in Cape Town. There exists very little integration between black, white and coloured communities in and around the city. Forced removals during Apartheid and Industrialisation led to this artificial geographic. This ever present system continues to place white people in a more superior and socio-economically affluent space than the black and coloured population. By pushing us to the outskirts of society we are also facing impossible challenges to be and make the change we desire to see in our country. The democratic South African System continues to oppress the black man and the problematic cycle continues.
Let us look for another word rather than REMOVING....
Think about it this way: if you REMOVE that chair you are planning to put it down somewhere else, but if you DESTROY that chair you will throw it in the dust bin and move on. That is what needs to be done with apartheid. It needs to be destroyed…not just removed.The question remains…how?
Apartheid still haunts our parents.
When I called my mother telling her that I will be traveling to Belgium for a conference on the removal of apartheid, she only said with affirmation that “the removal of Apartheid will never be possible or a simple thing to do". As a child I remember my mother working incredibly hard as a domestic worker. In 2011 she got hit by a car on her way to work. She has been crippled since. My mother would sometimes say - if I was not a domestic worker I would not have ended up like this. That makes me more sad about the system that suppressed black woman into the position of being domestic workers.
The trauma of the black people of South Africa is too complex for a speech. It is an experience. Iat is embedded in our genetic identity- from the days of colonialisation and the debauchery of slavery the black man has been reminded of his worthlessness. Although many of these things have changed in theory, the practice of human decency is not even visible in the architecture of our cities.
By Michael Tymbios
About 'the Social' in 'Space'
By Mona Sloane
PhD student in the LSE Department of Sociology
co-founder and former member of the LSE-based research programme Configuring Light/Staging the Social
If we talk about space, let’s forget about buildings for a minute. Let’s strip our cityscapes of their physical manifestations and the societal visions they prescribe. What is left? A space-less space? Not sure. Or rather: it depends. It depends on whether we fall for a narrative that privileges built over social space, or buildings over people. But they are not the same thing, neither does one sit above the other. An empty building, at best, is a shiny new version of how we all shall live and work in the future, at worst, it is a ruin (or vice versa!). A building that is brought to live by those who use it is not only a space, it is a social space. That is to say that the ‘production of space’ never stops, it necessarily is contingent and underpins what we could call the urban condition. Or, to borrow from French sociologist Lefebvre, any space implies, contains and dissimulates social relationships (1991: 82). This take on space is crucial in that it helps us to get our heads around looking at space in terms of sociality, of how people make sense of their environments and act upon them, resist them, demand and implement change – not just physically, but socially. Being attuned to ‘the social’ in ‘space’, then, does not only refer to the specific socio-spatial structures we may encounter (for example, a ‘community’) in the vast complexity we call a city, but also the spatial conditions that we purposefully set for how social spaces can emerge (for example thorough politically or economistcally charged design and planning). To do this more carefully, new conversations about space and society have to lift the curtain to look beyond the architectural and built intention and actively engage with the social reality that characterises urban life.
Lefebvre, H. (1991): The production of space. Oxford, OX, UK, Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell.
By Gerard Slee
Activating the Void
a hypothesised re-evaluation of space
by Katharien de Villiers
Urbanism will not only, or mostly, be a profession, but a way of thinking, an ideology: to accept what exists. We were making sand castles. Now we swim in the sea that swept them away.
Rem Koolhaas, “What Ever Happened to Urbanism” SMLXL, 010 Publishers, Rotterdam, 1995
Modernism, in its nature of change, is inextricably bound up with industrialisation and urbanisation. Modern societies and their cities have been based over centuries on distinctive political, economic, social and cultural patterns. These patterns have been thoroughly unsettled by deindustrialisation, which has unleashed a postmodern process of social transformation. Where modern society was “organised”, the postmodern instigated a process of disintegration and change, becoming “disorganised”. Society on the whole is no longer unified by the principle of work as it was during Industrialisation, since capitalism is essentially a dynamic machine designed to evolve. Thus, accepted structures of a formalised society disintegrated under the pressure of the diasporic and “disorganised” nature of postmodernism in order to adapt to the nature of a society that has become de-cenetred and fluid in its growth. The modernist unity of workplace, community and politics have evaporated, transforming into the broad network of social development we know today - a unpredictable network which is becoming more and more frayed at the edges. The urban sprawl. The traditional city as well as conserved natural areas have become fragmented from suburbia which extends to the horizon. In 1964, Melvin M. Webber dubbed this phenomenon the Nonplace Urban Realm.
Today many of our major cities, Cape Town included, are plagued by joblessness, concentrated poverty, physical decay and racial isolation. Vast areas of the cities, once teeming with life, now stand abandoned. Grass has reclaimed what was and doors and windows of once-active beehive buildings have been shuttered closed. Factory buildings that once provided tens of thousands of jobs now stand as hollow shells - mute testimony to a lost industrial past. Even our CBDs, when the workers return to the sprawl and the lights go off, become a skeletal playground for the wicked and weird. Abandoned apocalyptic areas mar city neighbourhoods from one another, creating internal peripheries. These spaces become void of possibility. The voids, or gaps in the urban sprawl has, in its disorder, created patterns of race and class segregation. Racial segregation, increasing joblessness, decaying infrastructures and the economic inequality bred by capitalism become key elements in reinforced stereotyping as urban communities become characterised by their peripheral location. The city becomes a self perpetuating stigma.
I often feel that there exists a notion of surplus in these abandoned spaces. This surplus must be related to that which survives. Now seems not the time to build more. To the ill-informed curious observer it seems that now is the time to reconsider space. Search for a relationship with the past in which memory functions as an active process. Thus re-contextualising spaces by de-historisising them- unburdening them from their past by allowing for continual evolvement merely through reconsideration.
Peripheral architecture creeps closer to toward the city, forcing us to confront the edge condition. It is therefore crucial to stop the process of decay and find new uses for empty, but nonetheless intact, buildings. After all buildings do not necessarily dictate function- function can always dictate the building. The ultimate eternal city is forever stuck between decline and an unfinished state, a dual nature of creation and destruction. The functioning building should thus mimic the eternal city by encapsulating the transitional process in itself. By regarding the voids as opportunity the fractured urban sprawl will be unified, reinstating the community concept and breaking down physical boundaries of exclusion. For this transformation to take place societies will have to discard the modernist notion of architectural monumentality and rather consider structuring their cities around the nature of the postmodern society by admitting to its fluidity. Through activating the void the machine is reconnected with her workers, merging the city with her urban sprawl.