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Let your journey unravel the truth, Mahomed tells Schools Festival

Published on 13 July 2015

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][FESTIVAL NEWS] Thousands of high school learners have arrived in Grahamstown to enjoy the best of the Festival during the National Schools Festival, which runs from 15 to 18 July.

The theme of this year’s Festival is “Masters of their Craft”. The National Schools Festival hosts the top 15 winners of the 2015 De Beers English Olympiad, an English creative writing competition for Grades 10, 11 and 12 that attracted more than 8 000 entries this year.

The official opening of the 41st Festival was held at the Guy Butler Theatre on Monday morning. Here is an extract of the address given by Artistic Director Ismail Mohamed:

Today the National Schools Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary. This momentous moment is so much more significant because it takes place during a week when two of Africa’s most famous Nobel prizes winners were born.

The Festival starts today on the birthday of Wole Soyinka, an author and thought leader who was the first person on the African continent to win the Nobel Prize. The Festival ends on the birthday of one of this century’s most respected political leaders – Nelson Mandela. Both men were born in rural villages but despite their challenging backgrounds, they grew up to take the world by storm.

As you engage with the productions that you attend this week, I trust that you will find enjoyment, be challenged and be inspired; and that you will come to understand why Wole Soyinka said, “Art gives you solace and vision”.

Some of these productions might even throw you out of your comfort zones. If that happens, fall back on the advice of Nelson Mandela. He said, “Keep a good head and a good heart. It is always a formidable combination”.

Congratulations to the National Schools Festival and the Grahamstown Foundation for bringing this Festival to its iconic 40 year celebration. To the teachers who are here – and those who have come before you – a world of gratitude to you for your commitment, passion and vision to offer young people an invaluable education beyond the four walls of the classroom.

To you, the students, who will be celebrating this 40th anniversary of the Schools Festival, I’d like you to reflect on 1976 –a year of political turmoil but which was a turning point in our country’s history. The students of that generation made their ultimate sacrifices so that we can all enjoy the democracy that we have today.

Next year, we will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Soweto Uprising. Let us take a moment at this Festival, to remind ourselves that we all have the responsibility to use the pillars of our hard won democracy to ensure that we continue their struggle for equality and social justice until all South Africans can claim to enjoy it.

I’d also like us to reflect on the wisdom of Wole Soyinka when he said, “Books and all forms of writing have always been the object of terror to those who seek to oppress the truth”.

As you learn and make new discoveries this week, let it be a journey that unravels many truths for you.

  • The Schools Festival is supported by the Zenex Foundation and the National Arts Council