South Africa's Freedom Day: an international festivity

April 2004 -

Exactly one decade ago, South Africa elected Nelson Mandela as its first black president, liberating itself from apartheid for all time. In these months, cultural events throughout the world are highlighting South Africa's ten years of democracy. A few examples:


Gregory Maqoma group will perform at Afro Vibe Festival

In Rotterdam the South African organisation Oppikoppi will bring together Dutch and South African (jazz) musicians on 27 and 28 August for the event 'n Vuis vol diamante van Suid Afrika (A Fist full of South African Diamonds). The proceeds from the concerts, which will be held in the Luxor theatre, will go to the orphanage Cotlands Baby Sanctuary in South Africa. The Afro Vibe Festival, scheduled from 24 September to 3 October, will centre around the Frascati Theatre in Amsterdam. Afro Vibes contracted a team of five South African artists to compile the festival's programme and express their views on ten years of democracy in South Africa. The festival will be concluded with the multi-media theatrical production Somehow Delightful - a collective production by Gregory Maqoma (choreography), visual artist Clifford Charles (paint work) and Beverley Ditsie (video art and film projections).

An entire series of events are scheduled in Switzerland, including Min(e)dfields, a visual art project by South African and Swiss artists to be held from 7 August through 19 September in the Stadtgalerie Bern and the Kunsthaus Baselland. Sharp Sharp is the title of the multi-disciplinary art festival that will beheld in Basel from 28 October to 8 November. Kwaito stars including Bongo Maffin and Godessa will perform, as will the Third world Bunfight theatrical group. The international photography festival FotoGrafia, which will commence in Rome on 5 April, has made room for ten young South African photographers, including Neo Ntsoma and Andreas Vlachakis, who will be presenting their work during the exposition 10 anni 10 voci (10 years 10 voices).

On the other side of the Atlantic, in the Lincoln Center Cinema in New York, the five-day film festival Ten Years of Freedom will start on 27 April. Some forty films by a new generation of South African directors will be shown, including work by Teboho Mahlatsi (Ghetto Diaries) and Norman Maake (Lefifing Bofelong Ba Lesedi). No one less than archbishop Desmond Tutu will introduce the films. The Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists in Boston will house an exposition in the same period of modern South African art, which will also be touring the United States.