|The crowd from Proudly Macassar Pottery who will help tell the stories of their community through ceramic art pieces|
Stories for Freedom:
Reimagining Macassar Township
Stories can heal hearts, and right an ancient wrong. The Stories of Freedom events will do this for Macassar township.
About 325 years ago an Indonesian activist king was banished to Cape Town. Shekh Yusuf’s crime was that his homeland cultivated cloves – loved by his colonisers – and that he travelled from colony to colony, telling locals to rebel. They wanted his cloves, not his activism, and he was promtly sent off.
Once in Cape Town, his influence on the slaves was feared and he was re-banished to a sandy marshland in what is today known as Macassar. He named it after his homeland, Makassar in the Far East. This was probably the first forced removal based on politics and religion in the Cape.
Fast forward to the forced removals of the 1970’s, and you have a clear idea of where most of Macassar’s current residents come from.
Communities like these have an oral history that is about to be lost with the older generation. And so many young people feel they are not heard in a very divided and challenged society.
What? Where? When?
We are therefore hosting a day of story telling in Macassar township, to help community members tell and record their stories. This will be held at Macassar High School on Heritage Day 2015.
Skilled facilitators and artists (including local youths who work in ceramics, graphic design etc) will help community members remember their life histories, and assist them to tell these stories in a medium they are comfortable with – be it group discussions with a cup of tea, or in pairs. The telling of these stories will be observed by artists from a variety of disciplines. Community members will be able to choose how they want their stories represented. Some may choose that a song be written about their story, others may prefer their stories presented through graffiti, for example.
These art works will then be curated into an exhibition that will be launched at a music event, to be held on Reconciliation Day (16 December). The music event will feature a local band from Macassar, Sound of the Ground (recently showcased at TEDx Bellville) and other prominent artists.
We are in partnership with the Institute for the Healing of Memories, founded by Fr Michael Lapsley after he lost both hands in a letter bomb attack orchestrated by the apartheid government. We have been sending members of the Macassar community to trauma healing weekend retreats hosted by the institute.
These people will now be attending the story telling day. However, they will be joined by other Macassarians, some of whom have successful careers outside of the township. In total, we hope to have 80 people present, including community members, facilitators and artists from a variety of disciplines who will help convert the stories into various art forms.
Why are we crowdfunding?
Macassar is us – all of us. We all carry the highs and lows of the history of our city and nation in our hearts. If Macassar tells its story and finds freedom from banishment, it is our victory too. This is an investment in Macassar. But it is also an investment in your city and your nation. Projects like these strengthen the core of our city. It reminds us that we are all equally human and that our city can never be compartementalised. It is one city and Macassar is part of it, in spite of its isolation.
The story telling events are not happening in isolation. The organisers have been engaging this community for six years, and will continue to do so. Through a local social enterprise – Proudly Macassar Pottery run by the organiser, Johan de Meyer – community meetings have been hosted for a long time. The stories captured at the events open up further avenues to start further social enterprises in the tourism and hospitality industry.
Stories of Freedom, therefore, is one more step closer to helping the community solve its own problems.
Milestone 1 – R10 000
The Tipping Point
We have a venue and sound equipment, we have creative tools to help the community refresh their memories, some facilitators, we can start telling stories.
Milestone 2 – R40 000
We can add catering for participants, pay stipends to facilitator-artists, and buy supplies to produce the artworks and music.
Milestone 3 – R55 000
We can rent a video team to record the proceedings. We have tools to market the music event that will showcase the artworks.
Johan de Meyer: [email protected]