A journey to discover the people who change our world.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Hip, Hop and Happening

Last Wednesday was Women’s day in South Africa, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of a march to Union Buildings in Pretoria, when 30,000 women stood up to demand an end to the ‘Pass Laws’, the laws that built apartheid.

Fifty years on, it was a day of celebrating the achievements of women. I got to tag along with a group that were going to celebrate it on the walls of Jo’burg, literally.

'Dug' Racionzer,(pictured above) a cartoonist and Ashoka Fellow, was asked by Ashoka, to facilitate a graffiti art workshop, on the theme of women, with a group of local hipsters! Arriving at ‘Horror Café’, a hip hop haven, it felt more like the Bronx than anything remotely African; the street lingo, the incredible variety of dreadlocks, the layers of fashion, the beats, the poses, the moves. But this, I realised, is the new Africa, the Jo’burg street culture- alive with energy and personality.

A breakdancing workshop was taking place with one of the best dancers in the country demonstrating his techniques. I stared on in amazement, not daring to join in my clumsy hiking boots and distinctly uncool attire!

The graffiti artists gathered in front of the 20m wall they had to work on. The aim was to create a mural, or series of images, to depict the positive contribution of women to society. I was incredibly impressed with the speed of the process. Two groups were formed and words about women were brainstormed’; ‘revolution’, ‘power’, ‘cleavage’, ‘shoes’, ‘intellect’, ‘mama’, ‘love’… 15 minutes later each group had a concept for their mural ready, and a template or ‘rush’ was drawn. These are fast, effective and efficient workers! Once the groups got going, Dug, myself and the rest of us left the gang to get on with it…

I did not get a photo of the end result, but it was as good as this..


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