Archive | January 2015

ANC Youth League in Western Cape ready to elect new leaders

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

A mess of fake membership and buying votes with booze were among the hallmarks of the ANC Youth League, said its task team convenor yesterday ahead of a meeting to elect new provincial leaders.

Task team convenor Khalid Sayed said minutes after concluding their meeting yesterday afternoon that election dates were set for February 20 to 22.

The ANC’s national executive appointed a 25-member task team in mid-2013 to clean up their provincial Youth League.

In an exclusive interview with Weekend Argus, Sayed detailed some of what the task team had uncovered, and also outlined plans going forward.

“When we took over (as task team), there was literally no ANCYL in the Western Cape. What we inherited was a mess,” said Sayed.

“We could not find record of membership. We wondered where all the members were from. Previous chairpersons of regions did not give us any of this information.”

He added: “We inherited tendencies which we were foreign to the ANCYL. We came across money politics.

“People tried to buy branches. They wanted to emerge as leaders and paid people to join the party and vote for them.

“There were also ghost members. You would get people coming around to branches, filling in forms, making up names, addresses and ID numbers. That is what the membership was based on.”

Sayed said the task team discovered the fake identities when they tried contacting enlisted members via the cell phone numbers on their membership forms.

“There was also bribery where comrades started to feel that in order for you to emerge as a leader you must buy alcohol or meat for your supporters,” he said.

“We don’t blame the members. That is what they inherited. Former leaders did that. They bought people alcohol. Those leaders would also rent top hotel rooms and women would be involved at these gatherings.”

Sayed said the election conference next month would be a “watershed” for the ANCYL, plagued previously by a leadership limbo.

“We are ready to elect new ANCYL leaders. We decided that our conference would be held in the southern Cape. We will look at venues in George, Plettenberg Bay, Knysna or Oudtshoorn and then decide on the most cost-effective option,” he said.

The “conference is not only to elect leadership” but also about how the ANCYL in the Western Cape would lobby national government to focus on issues such as fishing and farming that affect local youth, said Sayed.

“We are going to discuss policy, an organisational review and how to take the ANCYL forward in the province. We also need to prepare and mobilise for the 2016 municipal elections,” said Sayed.

He blamed a lack of ANCYL presence across the Western Cape for a failing ANC in the province.

“Young people can’t identify with the party if they do not see young leaders in their communities. The ANCYL has a hard job ahead. It would also work hard in preparing for the municipal elections (in 2016),” he said.

Sayed said the task team found the ANCYL’s saving grace though was that its members were still “radical”.

“With all the disrespect that (former ANCYL president) Julius Malema showed (to the ANC and in public), we came into an ANCYL that still had radicalism. For us radicalism is a positive because it means that you are willing to take up issues even if it doesn’t put you in good standing,” said Sayed.

“Another positive was the ANCYL took on the DA when it was not serving the interests of young people. It had programmes, but we don’t know if those crowds who marched against the DA were members, or just crowds brought in then only.”

The task team’s troubleshooting of the ANCYL’s inner workings meant it had to audit up to 240 ANCYL branches across the province since its appointment, said Sayed.

It found only 198 branches made the grade, with most of these branches having at least 100 members.

“This means we have 198 branches in good standing. All their paperwork is proper. It’s clean,” said Sayed.

Sayed said representatives from all these 198 branches would now need to travel to their conference in the southern Cape where they would need to find accommodation and a venue to elect their new leaders.

They would elect a chairperson, deputy chairperson, secretary, deputy secretary and treasurer. An additional 20-member provincial executive committee (PEC) would also be elected.

The PEC would then elect a working committee that would comprise about 10 members.

The task team included national executive committee members, such as former Western Cape ANC chairman Mcebisi Skwatsha, who served briefly on a leadership team that was disbanded after factionalism led to its demise.

Skwatsha is presently deputy minister for rural development and land reform. He said their clean up has “not been an easy job”.

“The (clean up) process continues. It will continue way beyond the provincial conference. For now the ANCYL is ready to go to conference. All preparations are in place,” said Skwatsha.

“There is commitment that we have to have a healthy ANCYL. It has been audited and it is ready. It will work with all other ANC structures towards a successful municipal election (in 2016).”

Khoi-San sounds meets classical music in new symphony

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Khoi-San and classical music do not commonly feature in the same symphony, but a local composer is uniting these sounds to tell the history of Cape Town.

Gerald ‘Mac’ McKenzie, a musician and composer from Athlone, has been living in small town Darling outside Cape Town, where he is readying his Goema Symphony Number 1: The Finale. It will premiere in Darling on February 7.

Athlone musician and composer Gerald ‘Mac’ McKenzie will premiere his Goema Symphony Number 1: The Finale in Darling next month. It features Khoi-San and classical music to tell the history of Cape Town. Picture Paul Darné

Athlone musician and composer Gerald ‘Mac’ McKenzie will premiere his Goema Symphony Number 1: The Finale in Darling next month. It features Khoi-San and classical music to tell the history of Cape Town. Picture Paul Darné

Goema is an hour-long musical journey starting with the pre-colonial Cape, dives into the colonial period, and wraps up with sounds of present-day democracy.

It will feature classically trained musicians alongside those playing indigenous Khoi-San instruments.

McKenzie, 63, started writing Goema a decade ago and is now ready to present it to an audience. He left city life last April to prepare the piece for his showcase at this year’s Darling Music Experience.

As this music festival’s resident composer, he has worked with local youth, training them how to play music.

McKenzie found home in the town’s abandoned church, with the belief that “building a new South Africa is very important”.

To this end, he founded the Darling Chamber Orchestra, featuring young musicians who would otherwise never have had access to formal music training.

McKenzie says he called the piece Goema, which for years has referred to a sound that emanates from particularly the Cape Town coloured community, with its mixed-race heritage and multi-cultural influences.

“We have the blood of people from all over the world in us,” says McKenzie.

“We are mixed people and we live in ‘The Land of the Goema’. We are the coloured people. Goema is our sound. And we also have a goema (or mixed) way of life.”

McKenzie says this enables him to draw easily on different influences, laying claim to it through heritage.

“If you hear a Mozambican, Indian or German sound, it’s because that is also part of our heritage,” he explains.

With Goema, he wanted to narrate through a score a story that includes the various voices and histories of the Cape.

“The first part starts with what happened before and in 1652 (the documented start of Dutch colonisation in the Cape). I’m talking about the music memory of that time. I am using a lot of bows and indigenous music to imply what is happening there,” says McKenzie.

“Then suddenly you hear European church songs. This is Europe moving to the Cape. Then we hear their music mixing with the Khoi-San music. There is a little party.”

But soon the music turns violent when the “Khoi-San realise the Europeans are not going away”.

“We hear a trumpet signaling war. And then come the conflict and a battle scene. After the battle, we have a quiet tiredness and sorrow.”

McKenzie delves into Cape Malay choir music at this point in Goema, to draw on the slave community’s Nederlandse ‘liedjies’, songs performed in an early version of Afrikaans.

These songs still exist in the coloured community, performed particularly at weddings and some family gatherings, but most especially during the early part of the year with the annual Cape Malay choir singing competitions.

“You hear the liedjies and people have to adjust as life has changed in the Cape. The slaves start singing their sorrow. Then there’s a slow way of finding life again,” says McKenzie.

“Then comes submission, collaboration and eventually cooperation. And then once again the music comes together to show we all mixing again. I come right into the modern day.”

“You have a lively European waltz mixing with Kaapse Klopse and Khoi-San sounds.”

Apart from Khoi-San and classical music, McKenzie has also written jazz music as part of Goema. He says his orchestra will feature 22 musicians playing “violins, violas, clarinet, flute, percussion, piano, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, some even sing” and “we have a banjo from time to time”.

“It has been hard work and I was motivated to write down this music. Cape Town musicians have to realise that they have to document their work so there is more sustainable value to it. They have to learn how to write down their music,” says McKenzie.

“When you are writing for an orchestra you can go anywhere with it. Some people in the orchestra don’t even understand me when I talk to them. There’s a Russian woman in the orchestra.

“But when she reads the music, she understands it. The people who play in my orchestra have all studied music. Any orchestra in the world can pick up what I have written and play it.”

McKenzie established his career countrywide decades ago, performing pop, jazz, rock and anti-apartheid songs. He says he has found, through writing his compositions for orchestras, he is now at “the top end of the game”.

“If you can bring people a written score, you are at the top end. I know top musicians are struggling. If they can’t write their music down, people don’t respect them,” he says.

McKenzie says he always had ambitions to compose his own music.

“I grew up in coloured areas where people copied everybody’s music. There were many nightclubs. When people came to dance at the clubs they wanted to hear the radio played by bands.

“Bands that were making the most money and fame were cover bands. But I wrote my own songs. Everybody thought I was a strange bird writing my own songs.”

McKenzie still has a number of ideas for musical symphonies he wants to write, including a “South African indigenous ballet”.

He says writing music results in “my heartbeat being the same as the person who was just running a marathon”.

And his intention now is that “we will all enjoy music together”.

“I’m still a struggle musician. I’ve never stopped thinking about how unfair things are,” he says.

“But the only way to counter that is to bring people together. We will sit in one concert hall and listen to the music.”

Goema Symphony Number 1: The Finale will debut at the NG Kerk, Church Street, Darling, on February 7 at 4pm. For more information call 079-445-9703.


The Darling Music Experience, launched in 2006, was started to “bring first class chamber music to the West Coast”.

Its organisers say “highly-rated musicians, together with Darling’s quiet country charm and small intimate venues” draw in crowds from across the province.

“Our aim is to give pleasure and to entertain without compromising on the quality of our music. This appeals to old and young audiences alike,” they add.

This year’s festival will feature 11 concerts, including Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

A performance of Beethoven’s triple concerto will feature Farida Bacharova on violin, Polina Burdukova on cello, and Kerryn Wisniewski on piano.

And homage to Hendrik Hofmeyr, billed as “South Africa’s most performed and internationally recognised contemporary composers”, will also feature.

The Darling Music Experience runs from January 30 until February 15. For more information check out, call Innes on 079-445-9703, or e-mail

Palestinian activist Leila Khaled’s namesake recalls a life of politics

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Growing up with anti-apartheid activist parents and being named after the first woman to hijack an airplane left Leila Issel with alternative perceptions of the word ‘terrorist’.

Issel’s parents Shahida and John ‘Johnny’ Issel were prominent public voices against apartheid during the founding days of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and also the ANC.

Leila Issel, the daughter of anti-apartheid activists, was named after Palestinian activist Leila Khaled. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Leila Issel, the daughter of anti-apartheid activists, was named after Palestinian activist Leila Khaled. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Her mother named her after Palestinian activist Leila Khaled, who in 1969 hijacked an airplane on its way from Rome to Athens.

Khaled has been viewed as an activist for using the hijacking to raise awareness of the Palestinian struggle against Israel. Others have labeled her a terrorist for her stance against Israel.

Khaled is meant to visit Cape Town next month as part of a national speaking tour. This has raised debate among local pro-Israel and pro-Palestine groups. The visit is meant to raise funds for a local group that promotes boycotts against Israel.

Issel has not yet met Khaled, but feels that she has a personal connection with her as “she was frequently spoken about in my upbringing”.

“Many people told me who I’m named after her (Khaled). People gave me DVDs about her. People spoke about her strength. She was young and strong in her ideas,” said Issel.

“Leila and other Palestinians inspired our freedom fighters in South Africa. My mom was inspired by her. She was a strong woman who stood up for what she believed.

“She felt something was wrong and she decided to do something. That gives strength where there is no hope. That’s a good thing, because when we see someone else standing up for something it makes us feel stronger.”

Issel said having Khaled and her parents – persons that she loved – named terrorists made her view this word differently.

“My reaction to the word terrorist is saviour, strength, someone who stands up for equality and human rights. My father always used to tell me, ‘I’m doing this because there are kids who don’t have fathers who can fight’. So that’s what a terrorist is,” she said.

“A terrorist is someone who stands up for poor people, for people who don’t understand the red tape. Because red tape can kill you. Someone who fights for equality. Someone who fights against occupation.

“A terrorist is an awesome person who is standing up for someone.”

Issel is not the only sibling named after so-called terrorists, in the eyes of western leaders. One of her brothers is named after deceased Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Another is named after former Cuban president Fidel Castro.

As an adult, Issel did not follow her parent’s political footsteps, but since birth politics was all she had known.

“Just before I was a year old I was arrested. The police knew how to get to our parents. They would take the children to get them to come out of hiding. I was taken to prison to get my father to come out of hiding and he did,” said Issel.

“I went to a protest when I was nine. I was arrested and put into an adult prison. I didn’t understand what was happening.”

She added: “I blocked out a lot of things. I have verbal memory, but no visual memory. It was too psychotic for my space.

“My space was never age appropriate. My parents didn’t realise the damage it had done to us.

“I only know politics. Most people have religion in their house twenty-four-seven. We had police, meetings, torture, breaking down the house, banning orders, imprisonment, being on the run and moving from house to house twenty-four-seven.

“I didn’t learn how to pray. I had to learn that later in life. I learned politics. That was our code.”

Issel said her grandparents also introduced them to political life.

“My grandfather would hire movies for us like Battle of Algiers. Those were the types of movies we watched. It was insane. I have two daughters and I would never let them watch those things,” she said.

“We were at my grandparent’s place one evening and we were watching the news. My brother ran in and said, ‘They running on the TV after dada with big AK47s’. That was our life. It was normal. We didn’t cry about it.”

When Issel was nine she had to represent her father at the founding of the UDF, a gathering of civil society movements united against apartheid, in Mitchell’s Plain.

“My father could express with words what people felt in their hearts. That made people feel that he understood them. He had a huge following and that would strike fear with the apartheid government.

“He was vocal and that’s when he became an enemy of the State. He was called a terrorist. He was under a banning order and he said I should represent him at the UDF meeting. There were 10,000 people.

“I was asked to speak and share a stage with Helen Joseph, Allan Boesk and Trevor Manuel at the launch of the UDF. It was intimidating. I used to stutter as a child, because of the nervousness of everything.

“Later we found out he was inside the hall. Had he spoken, he would have been arrested.”

While John Issel died in January 2011 his wife Shahida is still alive.

Issel said she and her mother “are involved in social issues”.

“We are political. It’s in our DNA. It’s all we know,” she said.

Khaled will arrive in Cape Town on February 12, the same day as President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address. She is due to address locals at an event in Surrey Estate that evening.

Muslims encouraged to forgive Charlie Hebdo cartoonists

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Muslims should forgive Charlie Hebdo magazine cartoonists, an Islamic academic told thousands gathered for Friday prayers at a local mosque yesterday.

The cartoonists at the Paris-based magazine, some of whom were killed earlier, depicted Prophet Muhammad in the nude and in other ways that offended Muslims. Their killers proclaimed to have committed the murder to defend the prophet.

Hafiz Abu Baker Mohammed, a Durban-based former judge and Islamic scholar, yesterday told 3,000 congregants at Masjidul-Quds in Gatesville that violence was not the response their prophet would have encouraged.

Hafiz Abu Baker Mohammed, a Durban-based former judge and Islamic scholar. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Hafiz Abu Baker Mohammed, a Durban-based former judge and Islamic scholar. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

“Prophet Muhammad’s response was one of compassion, inclusiveness and forgiveness. He has his own Charlie Hebdo’s who insulted him in his lifetime,” said Mohammed.

“There’s no need to defend Prophet Muhammad. Muslims must ignore this. The caricatures will not affect his character.”

Mohammed said “mainstream media created a lot of confusion” and should be more responsible in its depiction of Islam though.

“Mainstream media is not giving the full picture. The demonising of Islam is calculated,” he said.

On the matter of the media’s right to publish the cartoons, the academic said “these cartoons is not about freedom of expression”.

“This is about having the right to offend. Criminal law tells you that you don’t have the right to injure someone. Since when does the law allow one to injure someone?” he asked.

“To say I have the right to offend is to say, ‘I have a right to be a bigot’. Which culture says that? This is a reflection of their own moral bankruptcy.”

Sataar Parker, chairman of the Masjidul Quds board of trustees, said they invited Mohammed to “empower the community with information about the prophet’s character”.

“We needed a scholarly and not emotional approach to the cartoons. We need to address this in a cool, calm and collective manner,” he said.

“We know that the prophet had dirt thrown at him and didn’t respond with violence.”

Parker said they encouraged interfaith efforts at their mosque and invited a Christian and Hindu leader to attend the Friday talk.

“We’ve had Jews, Christians and Hindus addressing our congregation. Good relationships will bring about harmony among human beings,” said Parker.

Bishop Dennis Abrahams, from the Shiloh Pentecostal Church in Primrose Park, said he had seen the magazine’s self-proclaimed atheist cartoonist’s depictions of Jesus Christ and found that offensive too.

“It was done in the spirit of intolerance. We should respect one another’s religion,” said Abrahams.

“We are concerned. This is not right. When they drew cartoons of Jesus Christ, I feel hurt as well. They should apologise.”

Pandit Ashvin Narshi, a Hindu priest at various temples in Cape Town, said they also did not support the cartoons because they are “destructive”.

It was something out to destruct and we can’t support that. If a cartoon is there to educate someone and bring about harmony then we should support it,” said Narshi.

Zurich’s Love Parade thankfully has nothing to do with Swiss snow

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Forget the cheesy cuckoo clocks, tons of snow and the multi-purpose Swiss Army Knife; the de facto, race-your-heartbeat reason to trip to Switzerland is Zurich’s annual Street Parade.

This gathering of madness in the name of a good time certifies that Switzerland too is a land of much-needed healthy contradictions. Street Parade is a public party that ensures hot pulses keep pumping far away from snow-covered mountains that threaten to freeze you to an early grave. This is in a country that seems to never get enough sunshine and where the white fluffy stuff remains a tourist draw-card even during alleged summer months.

Cuckoo clocks are what comes to mind when one thinks of Switzerland. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Cuckoo clocks are what comes to mind when one thinks of Switzerland. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

The Street Parade is a teenager that arrived as a saving grace during the early 1990s. And there’s only a sliver of sunshine for the duration of the day-long street festivities as masses of grey clouds look south to revelers making their way along the 2,4-kilometer party route.

This route crosses a picturesque lake over bridges and brings the town to a halt. Earplugs are handed to the timid. And eyes can’t get enough of persons dressed in some of the most absurd costumes. Or persons who look like they need to get dressed.

During my walk along the route, a nurse in bright pink PVC offered an alluring smile; a man appeared dressed as a circus master leading a young girl looking like a meek wild cat and an Asian woman imitated a fairy. It was an exhibition of fetishes, freaks and fantasies.

Anybody need a nurse? Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Anybody need a nurse? Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

The Street Parade is the highlight of a weekend of frivolities. Partying endures for a few days before and after the Saturday, which is reserved for the congregation to meet on Zurich’s streets.

The Street Parade story involves a mathematics student, Marek Krynski from the host city, who was “inspired by a television report on the Berlin Love Parade” in June 1992. It’s summer time across Europe in the middle of the year and there’s never a shortage of reasons to make happy.

Weird circus act. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Weird circus act. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

So Krynski hopped across the border to Berlin to see how it’s pulled off and returned to start the party with his city as its backdrop for what was to become a public love fest. Rave music was the sound of the day back then and 2,000 partygoers showed up to party public. Permission from local Swiss authorities guaranteed that the inaugural Street Parade went off smoothly.

“The Street Parade is a demonstration for love, peace, freedom and tolerance… It is a demonstration for being and celebrating without violence, regardless of race, skin colour, sexual orientation or special interests,” states the official spin of the party’s roots.

Asian fairy. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Asian fairy. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Two years later, the event was banned though by the Zurich police chief for being “too big, too loud, litters the streets of the city and moreover only of interest to an insignificant section of the population”. Local media responded with venom while socialists and other political heavyweights ensured the mega party’s survival. By the time the music was turned on, 50,000 people had gathered in the streets in 1994.

Picture perfect Switzerland. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Picture perfect Switzerland. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

By 1999 the organisers launched their own radio station for the Parade weekend and historians voted it as one of the 100 “most significant events in Switzerland”. These days the event attracts at least a million participants and is broadcast live on Swiss TV. In Switzerland, 150 trains lead to the party and tour operators tout special packages.

The event, organised by the Zurich Street Parade Association, has 3,000 helpers, a host of sanitary stations and interestingly a third of its disciples arrive from Germany.

Safari grandpa. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Safari grandpa. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

They arrive as spectators of almost forty Love Mobiles. These are trucks that carry DJs and dancers along the Street Parade route. House and techno remains the event’s signature tunes but it’s not just the gaudy that prevails. While most parties have that crass-loud feel, there are intimate underground getaways and alternatives. Lists are usually available on websites which promote the 100 or so party spots.

During the night, Zurich’s inner-city cafes and restaurants invite the flock. Streets are lined with loud speakers and it’s all about letting it all hang out. It’s strange that all of this unfolds in a land historically associated with a children’s cartoon character named Heidi. Serenity and all those nice things don’t fit quite well with this load of noise. But it’s nice to know they know how to party.

Street Parade storms Zurich on August 9 this year. Log on to for details.

If Street Parade is not your scene or you want to combine your sweat sessions with some serious snow, these are other Swiss highlights to include on your itinerary:

Straight up, you should know that Geneva doesn’t offer much of a party. This is United Nations town so while it’s all formalities and early-to-bed, there are a host of nationalities represented on the cuisine front. I found an interesting Moroccan restaurant, La Mamounia, serving Middle Eastern specialties and belly dancing.

You can view the French mountains from Geneva, which also shows off its French influence. With only 180,000 inhabitants, this former Catholic town is small-town bliss with international flavour. Restaurants overpopulate the place and some are so tiny that they only serve two tables. Reservations are critical. And then you’d better eat up quickly and leave.

Just twenty minutes from Geneva nestles a little town, Carogne, which offers a host of themed tours. This includes tours of hidden gardens, antique shops, historical sites, artists and craftsmen. Carogne’s open-air market offers fresh produce far from the mass manufactured vibe. Get fresh fruit, vegetables, home-made juices, jams and breads. Shops also specialise in a variety of goods; like the one which stocks 180 types of teas, others offer hats, soaps, chocolates and beautifully designed kettles. Church bells mark the hours. Old world feel guaranteed.

Zermatt is ski junky dreams come true. No cars are allowed to enter so one walks your way around in the fresh air. Rent a bicycle, swim in hot indoor baths and get down with some amazing skiing. If you’re not appropriately attired the mountains of Switzerland will freeze you to death. If you are warmly dressed the views of freedom and inspiration will awaken your excitement at being a participant in life.

Trains take you across Switzerland with ease. They’re clean and run on time. Get the Golden Pass Line to venture across beautiful landscapes. Switzerland looks magical along these routes.

Kaapse Afrikaans: ‘a language of freedom’

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Kaapse Afrikaans spoken mostly by local coloureds takes centrestage in a local theatre production celebrating the work of acclaimed writer Adam Small.

Small, 78, wrote mainly in this colloquial tongue to document in creative stories, poems and plays the life of working class coloureds during apartheid. His characters were mostly drawn from the Western Cape.

Afrikaans writer Adam Small at Artscape Theatre where a festival celebrating his work is currently running. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Afrikaans writer Adam Small at Artscape Theatre where a festival celebrating his work is currently running. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Kaapse Afrikaans, also known as Kaaps or more recently called Afrikaaps, is regarded as a version of the more formal dictionary-based Afrikaans. It flattens vowels and drops letters, changing the sound of words.

It also mixes Afrikaans with English, in some cases using Afrikaans prefixes with English words, creating new words. An example evident in one of Small’s poems is ‘ge-appear’, which would mean ‘appeared’.

It also joins words to shorten them, for example ‘wees nie’ becomes ‘wiesie’ which would mean ‘to be’.

It seems a rebellious way of speaking what some might call the white man’s Afrikaans. And therefore apt that Small used this way of speaking in his writing, protesting against apartheid.

Local actress, singer and director Natalia da Rocha worked for two years to create the Adam Small Festival, currently on at Artscape Theatre until January 31.

Theatre director and performer Natalia da Rocha (right) with young musician and singer Keanu Harker at Artscape Theatre. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Theatre director and performer Natalia da Rocha (right) with young musician and singer Keanu Harker at Artscape Theatre. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Each night, the festival presents ‘Adam. Small The Man’, which showcases actors from the non-profit Applauz Arts Initiative performing extracts of Small’s plays and poetry.

After that, singers and musicians perform ‘Adam Small BeJazzed’, which is original music compositions played to the singing of Small’s poems.

While the first part of the evening is dark and sombre, the second half lightens up somewhat.

Small’s writing is though to sit through though as it deals with the harsh realities of racism, oppression and illogical questioning in apartheid era courtrooms.

The play’s characters talk to each other about incidents where “you throw bombs” and call each other “you bloody Communists”, reflecting the realities of a past still being understood.

During an interview, Small said he had always perpetuated that “Afrikaans was never a language of whites”.

“Afrikaans has its roots in coloured life. And certainly it is not a language of enslavement. It is a language of freedom, as any other language can be in the world,” he said.

He said also that he did not “think the language is under threat” as on various occasions lamented particularly by white Afrikaners.

“As long as there are people speaking the language, it won’t be under threat. It’s only if all the people who speak this language die, then it will be under threat,” said Small.

Da Rocha said she was “born to pay tribute to the underdog” and with these productions wanted to tell Small’s stories to a younger generation “in an interesting way”.

“When you deal with history, it’s hard cold facts. When you take history in this format it appeals to young people,” she said.

He cast of actors and musicians are all young people who “knew nothing about Small,” she said.

“We have troubled youth in our country. They do not know who they are. They have no anchor. This is their history,” said Da Rocha.

“We don’t want them to lead the way things are going now. Once they know who they are, they can make better decisions.”

One of the singers, Keanu Harker, 19, from Belhar, said he only heard about Small when they did one of his poems at high school.

“He might have written the poems decades ago but it’s still relevant. I can still take a lot out of it. Racism is still alive today. We have racism in all communities,” said Harker.

“If people can take his words and apply it, think about it, it could make a difference. He talks about unity. He says we are all from the same earth.”

He added: “I don’t know much about apartheid. But we should unite against racism.”

The show’s producer Kurt Egelhof along with musical composer Camillo Lombard are set to record a CD of the songs featuring Small’s poems. Egelhof said he was also working on a documentary film about Small.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille was guest speaker at the opening night this week. She said she was there to “celebrate an icon of our heritage”.

“He was an artist and activist against apartheid. His voice laid bare the injustice of apartheid and racial discrimination. He did not hesitate to use his writing to free people,” said De Lille of Small.

Small said “anything I have done, I have done it for our city and indeed for our country”.

“It is possible, just possible for me, to die happily,” he said.

Racist K-word in 16 cases at Cape Town court

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Another race-related case was heard at the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court, bringing to 16 the number of such matters before this court presently.

State prosecutor Rahidien Cullis told the court of how Erik Neethling, 33, from Muizenberg allegedly called Zenzele Moloi, 42, from Constantia a k****r.

The incident occurred in a traffic jam on September 21 2014 in Hout Bay. Police arrested and released Neethling on Thursday. He was charged with crimen injuria.

Cullis told the court they would in future oppose bail for any persons appearing for race-related attacks.

“This is the 16th case in this court in the past six months in this court’s jurisdiction,” he said.

Cullis related the incident to the court yesterday. He said there was an accident on the road that had led to a traffic jam.

“There was a queue of cars… The complainant (Moloi) then switched off his vehicle. The accused (Neethling) came from behind the complainant and approached the complainant’s vehicle,” said Cullis.

“He put his hand through the window and took out the key. He told the complainant, ‘What are you going to do, you fucking k****r?’. He took the key and walked away. He told the complainant, ‘Fuck you k****r’.

“Then the complainant got out of his car and wanted the key. The accused went back to his car with the complainant’s key and the complainant followed him. A woman (in the accused’s car) told the accused to give the complainant’s key back.

“He took the key and threw it at the complainant and then said, ‘K****r take the fucking key’.”

Cullis said Moloi went to the police “because his dignity was impaired”.

“He felt humiliated… The accused denied it happened,” said Cullis in court.

Moloi’s employer, on whose property he lives in Constantia, submitted an affidavit to the court, stating that he was “honest” and “reliable”.

Moloi has been living on their estate for the last 21 years, with access to their house and cars.

“We regard him as part of our family. He works and resides at our house in Constantia. We travel extensively and it is critical that our house is in good hands,” they said in a court papers.

The case was postponed to February 26.

Other ongoing matters before the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court include that of swimming instructor Tim Osrin who allegedly domestic worker Cynthia Joni, 44, in Kenilworth. His matter will be heard before the court on January 20.

The court is also dealing with a number of UCT students involved in race-related attacks.

This includes Djavan Arrigone, 19, who allegedly urinated on a black taxi driver in Claremont.

UCT students Chad de Matos, 19, Aaron Mack, 20, and Mitchell Turner, 20, have also been in front of the court for allegedly attacking and racially abusing cleaner Delia Adonis, 52, in Claremont.

Military dentist Jan van Tonder meanwhile stands accused of attempted murder for allegedly sjambokking gardener Muhammed Makungwa, 22, in Claremont.