Art for Social Change

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UKZN’s School of Arts (Drama and Performance Studies, Media and Cultural Studies and Centre for Communication, Media and Society-CCMS) in partnership with NPO ARROWSA and the Durban University of Technology (DUT) recently collaboratively hosted the International Youth Indra Congress.

Held on the Howard College campus, the Congress was a six-day art for social change for youth between the ages of 16 and 24 from countries including South Africa, Namibia, India, Palestine, United Kingdom, Canada, and Greece.

Dr Lauren Dyll (CCMS) received a grant for the youth congress from UKZN’s DVC for Research, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath.

Founder and Director of the international Congress, Mr David Oddie, officiated the welcome ceremony which opened at the Square Space Theatre on Howard College with a creative exhibition by second and third year DUT Jewellery Design students. The isishweshwe and isiNdebele inspired jewellery was on sale at the exhibition while guests enjoyed performances by South Roots and Bechet High School as well as ARROWSA participants who represented South Africa.

The Congress week showcased various workshops using drama, music, singing, dance and visual arts towards exploring the congress theme of “Pathways” and engaged issues of peace and reconciliation. Activities were facilitated by experts in the arts fields. These include Durban based visual artists Karla Nixon and Dane “Stops” Knudsen as well as Kathlyn Allan of Author Jewellery based in the Western Cape.

The music and dance workshops were facilitated by Sue-Livia van Wyk of South Roots, working her expertise of combining music, singing and dance.

UKZN lecturer, Ms Ongezwa Mbele, also shared her expertise and led the drama sessions while UKZN lecturer, Dr Miranda Young-Jahangeer, hosted the arts for social change symposium presentations and workshop. These contributed to the current theoretical conversation on applied theatre; the arts for social change, peace and reconciliation.

All Congress activities culminated with a spectacular parade on the Durban beach front promenade. ‘A lot can be learned from using the arts to communicate social issues. The Indra congress takes it a step further by practicing the activities, through drama, music, dance and visual arts. The curation of the congress allows for applied arts and theatre, to creatively connect social issues about the youth and for the youth to promote conflict resolution and reconciliation driven outputs,’ said Ngema.

The participants engaged in different activities of which one of them was to identify themselves using a drawing of their hand palms (hand mapping). ‘The palm drawing activity was quite an interesting one to do. It taught us a lot about each other, one’s identity, life journey, impact on people’s lives and dreams. This is a very good way of bringing diversity,’ said Mr Jesse Jack, an aspiring artist from South Roots.

Ms Monique Mukendi, a learner from Bechet High School, who is part of ARROWSA, said, ‘It was absolute fun and an educational experience, especially sharing ideas and exploring diversity as we are all from different demographics. I made as many friends as I could as I believe I am still going to travel to their countries. The fact that we are all passionate about change through arts means our continents are safe and we will be getting more and more diverse,’ said Mukendi.


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