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Online Showcase Uncovers Makhanda’s Hidden Stories

Published on 27 October 2021

Well known for its annual arts festival, outside of that spotlight, Makhanda is a city with many stories and a wellspring of creativity and talent. The Makhanda Project is an online group exhibit of six filmed and recorded works that form a narrative about the people and creativity of Makhanda. The artists and creatives who have produced these works have all had deeply personal relationships with the town and many of them currently live in it.

Presented by the National Arts Festival, with funding from the National Arts Council, these short, compelling pieces give insight into the talent and diversity woven through the town, the deep quest for healing and a new beginning and some stories behind the scenes. Each production was mentored by an experienced creator who has worked in the digital space.

Says National Arts Festival Artistic Director, Rucera Seethal, “The Makhanda Project planted seeds for new perspectives, relationships, and artistic pursuits coming out of the town which has hosted the Festival for all these years. It’s also an opportunity for the Festival to turn its attention inwards, to work with a selection of Makhanda artists in considering their work, sometimes anew, using film or digital approaches for online platforms.” Read the full curatorial statement here.

The project will be screened on the National Arts Festival’s website from 19h00 on 28 October until 15 November 2021 and can be viewed at no cost.

One Art Documentary

Filmaker – Sinethemba ‘Oz’ Konzaphi
Presenting Company – Blah Ze Blah Pty Ltd
Part 1: 9 mins
Part 2: 21.15 mins
All Ages
isiXhosa & English

A behind-the-scenes documentary exploring the various creative activities and role-players behind the Makhanda Art Project initiative.
Creator, Sinethemba (Oz) Konzaphi, is a videographer and editor with an eye for detail. He has a keen interest in new technologies and strategic communication.

Mentor: Daylin Paul is a Johannesburg-based visual journalist and documentary photographer. 

Weyisile (Conquered)

Artistic Director  – Kutlwano Kepadisa
Presenting Company – KWANTU Designs
20 mins
All Ages

Based in Makhanda, this four-part music video series takes audiences on a teenage girl’s journey as she discovers the hero within. As she journeys she is accompanied by spirit guides in the form of vocal harmony, body percussion and movement. Her journey ultimately leads back to her home, where she finds belonging once more – as well as the promise of a new beginning. The four parts consist of Ulwandle LutshileAzania MedleyKura Uone and Lelilanga.

Kutlwano Tshekiso Sechaba Kepadisa is the artistic director and founder of Makhanda Kwantu Choir, assistant director of music at the Cathedral Church of St Michael and St George, choir master of Rhodes University Chamber Choir, and choir director of Graeme College Leopard’s Voice.

Mentors: Khalid Shamis is a Cape Town-based documentarian and film editor.
and James Bassingthwaighte, is a Johannesburg-based music producer and songwriter, working in digital production, scoring for large orchestras and project management.

Special thanks to Laila Anderson, creative director and film producer at Octopi Africa who filmed and edited.

Ingulo – Via Kasi Movers

Dancers :Thanduxolo Kilani, Athenkosi Matiwane, Likhaya Jack and Anethemba Bhikitsha
Presenting Company – Via Kasi Movers
32 minutes
isiXhosa & English

This filmed work takes the dance style Pantsula beyond pure entertainment into the realm of a contemporary dance form that is current, authentic and influenced by a rich South African historical background. The piece aims to heal and renew, and in so doing, to honour the life of Ayanda Nondlwana (founder and leader of VKM and his long-mourned friend and co-founder, Thozamile “Rocky” Mngcongo). The life force for the rest of the group and its work within the community is restored through this production. Mount Zion Ntaba Yezono plays a significant role as a site, pointing to the spiritual need for cleansing of the bloodshed in Makhanda, formerly known as Grahamstown.

Via Kasi Movers is a Makhanda-based Pantsula dance group featuring Thanduxolo Kilani, Athenkosi Matiwane, Likhaya Jack and Anethemba Bhikitsha, it was established and run by the late Ayanda Nondlwana.

Mentor: Vusi Mdoyi is a Johannesburg-based founder and director of Impilo Mapantsula, he is a dancer, teacher, choreographer, artistic director, and pantsula advocate.

Special thanks to Katlego Gabashane, who produced the work. 

Abantu Bahamba Apha

Curator and Producer – Samkela Stamper
Name of Presenting Company – The Open Space
5.26 minutes
isiXhosa & English

This piece explores the labour inequalities that exists in Makhanda since it became a Settler’s Town in 1820. Within the work is a deep need to cleanse the town of this negativity. Using the four elements of life in a site-specific intervention into these injustices, it aims to restore the dignity of the people.

Samkela Stamper is founder of the Thandeka Stamper Art Galari eNgqushwa & co-founder of The Open Space in Rini. She is a poet, a playwright, visual and performing artist, working also as an independent producer and curator. Her work is located in community, performance and public spaces and concerns itself with memory and the archive.

Mentor: Faniswa Yiza is a Cape Town-based actress and director. 

Movers and Shakers in the Eastern Cape 

The expression, “Mover and Shaker” has been repeatedly used with different meanings attached to the phrase. The results and outcomes of the toil by those that are given the title are seldom celebrated or understood. What do ‘Movers and Shakers’ get up to daily, and what keeps them committed to their mission?

Podcast series Movers and Shakers takes a close look at four individuals who are living out their passions through serving their communities. Dr. Nompucuko Zakaza, Bongiwe “Mthwakazi Chosi” Lusizi, Sonwa Sakuba and Sivuyisiwe Giba are making big moves in the Eastern Cape to make sure the province is uplifted and the arts are practiced as a legacy for generations to come. Nombasa Maqoko shadowed them to capture their daily routine and to see how they live their lives and make decisions that lead to the betterment of their communities.

Nombasa Maqoko is a musician, singer and songwriter, she is the founder and producer of Life Song Podcast. She is dedicated to entrepreneurship through music, media, broadcasting and African music.

Mentor: Elijah Mabinda is a Makhanda-based bassist and resident sound engineer at the International Library of African Music. 

The Lost Conversations 

Xolile ‘ X’ Madinda
Presenting Company – Around Hip Hop Live
29 mins
+PG 12
isiXhosa and English

The Lost Conversations is an extended series of dialogues, negotiations and discussions based on the discovered manuscripts of Mdushane, the warrior-prophet Makhanda’s trusted military advisor.  These conversations are conceputalised at Mhlonipeki’s (Makhanda’s) study, where allies are summoned and consulted before the upcoming Battle of Grahamstown. The aim of this production is to interrogate and perform written and oral stories about Makhanda’s strategies and legacy.

Xolile (X) Madinda is a hip-hop artist, social activist, community educator and entrepreneur, he is the founder and director of Around HipHop, The Black Power Station and Fingo Festival.

Mentor: Thulile Gamedze is a Johannesburg-based writer, artist and curator reflecting on transdisciplinary practices for black women in postcolonial spaces. 

See it here
28 October – 15 November 2021
There is no cost to watch these shows.