South Africa artists in Europe pay tribute to Mandela
PARIS, France - Members of South Africa's creative community in Europe on Friday paid tribute to Nelson Mandela's role in ending apartheid, calling it an historic achievement that allowed creativity to flourish.
"I never thought I'd see apartheid dismantled and I did," said choreographer Robyn Orlin who recently staged her dance show "A World Full of Butterflies" in Paris.
"I grew up during the struggle and for me it was a miracle and it gave me a lot of strength.
"By dismantling apartheid he made me realize that things are possible," she said.
As well as depriving writers, artists and musicians of their human rights, the country's system of racial segregation also denied them the stimulus of contact with their counterparts in the international community during the 1980s.
A UN-approved cultural boycott in protest at apartheid came into effect in December 1980 and saw many big names shun the country.
UN Resolution 35/206 asked states to "prevent all cultural, academic, sporting and other exchanges with South Africa".
Performers and writers were urged to personally boycott South Africa and academic and cultural institutions requested to sever links.
US singer Paul Simon provoked controversy when he recorded some tracks for his 1986 Graceland album in South Africa with black musicians.
'Possibilities' after apartheid's end
Actress Lindiwe Matshikiza, 30, who played Mandela's daughter Zindzi in the new film "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom", lived in exile overseas with her family until the end of apartheid in 1991 when she was eight.
She said she could never have had the life she enjoys today under apartheid.
"Certainly, something like (what) I'm doing today -- working in France with a company and being able to come and go as much as I please and feeling entitled to the world -- it was not the case for someone my age living 30, 40, 50 years ago," she said.
Poet Ronelda Kamfer, 32, who grew up in a poor family in and around the Western Cape, said there would have been no question of her becoming a poet without the education the new South Africa afforded her.
Kamfer, who has just finished a stint as a writer in residence for a project in La Rochelle in southwest France, said her education gave her the academic skills and self belief to pursue her ambitions.
"There was a sense of we could be anything we wanted to be," she said.
"Even though we were poor and my parents didn't have any money I believed that because apartheid had ended there were these possibilities."
And she said having the education that her parents and grandparents had been denied, motivated her to tell their stories.
"I felt a sense of wanting to honor them, because my grandparents were great story-tellers but no-one could write these stories down so I felt it was up to me," she said.
Brett Bailey, whose performance installation "Exhibit B" about colonial atrocities in Africa was shown in Paris last month, said that growing up under apartheid meant politics underpinned all his work.
Speaking at the time, he said he was not optimistic about the future of the new South Africa because the nation lacked an "Obama figure" to inspire hope.
"The two great shames of the South African transition is that there was very little economic transformation and the education system has become worse. It is deteriorating," he said.
"We don't have somebody putting a new vision on the table for us. We had Mandela 20 years ago and he set a beautiful foundation," he said adding that that legacy had been allowed to falter. – Rappler.com