Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Honouring the Unsung Heroes of the Struggle against Apartheid

Through this project, I want to honour the unsung heroes of the Struggle against Apartheid. Too often, Nelson Mandela is the only name people recognize. He has been looked upon as the sole contributor to the overthrow of the Apartheid Government. It is a perception that he has fought and continues to fight to this day. John Kani said at the reading, "There's a tendency to put Mandela in the centre, and call everything 'Mandela'. In my life, I have never met a man so humble. He's a leader that would never use the personal pronoun. Always, 'the people', 'the movement', 'the government', 'the ANC', 'the people of our country'; and thus he would be the first to say, ‘It's not about me.’ " It is my goal through this play to get the names Kathrada, Mlangeni, Daniels, Cooper and many other unsung heroes as familiar to the audience as the name Mandela.
Throughout the years that I have been developing this work, I have spoken to High Commissioners, rehearsed with a Tony Award winning actor and listened in awe to political leaders who spent much of their lives in prisons. I have met with charities, theatre companies and Universities who are interested in partnering with this play. Throughout this process, I have learned that you must be absolutely passionate, determined and tenacious to break through to them and get your voice heard. I have never worked so hard on a piece of art in my life. Through this play, I have had life changing experiences and have grown because of it. From a professional & personal point of view, this project will help develop the quality of my work in the future through the honing of my work ethic, contacts that I have established, respect that I have gained for pursuing this project and emotions this play has touched. The international aspect of this play will have a positive effect on my future work and provide opportunities for people in England to engage with my work both now and in the future through the establishment of contacts in South Africa and Southern Africa, a working relationship with the Market Theatre, new ideas for work surrounding Robben Island and positive relationships between artists in South Africa and in the United Kingdom.