Last Monday, I’ve attended the Durban Sings! launch at the recent Keleketla Library. Built on the ruins of a ‘native prison’ during apartheid on what is now the Drill Hall the Keleketla library. The Drill Hall has been in the past years taken over by a collective on young people motivated by the idea of transforming the space in a platform for culture promotion. The library is one of those great projects that makes the “downtown”or the “CBD” as it is called here of Joburg so interesting to visit.
The library is a quiet space in the noise of Johannesburg that provides access to cultural resources and a forum in which to respond to them. Its aim is to begin to foster cultural literacy through encouraging personal, free engagement with books, art, music and film. Collaborative, multi-media projects with local, national and international artists, cultural practitioners and activists, with an interest in inner city development and urban/social issues and the role of culture are the core of our programming.
The Durban Sings! project is a great idea in a country and in a continent where so much history relies on oral culture. With the help of the Center for Civil Society of the University of Kwazulu-Natal and 2 of its students / visiting fellow, Claudia Wagner and Molefi Ndlovu, youth from Youth organisations in and around the city of Durban have been working since the past 2 years in documenting the stories of their communities. Participants were asked to talk about their biography, family tree, memories about area, what has changed since they move into the community, what would they change in their communities, their dreams for the future of their community ad themselves, some popular saying/proverb, or their favourite song.The blog is there for you to explore as this project grew bigger and attracted also stories from London, Windhoek and Windsor, but the main final product of the recordings done over 2 years is a great DVD where you can explore the different stories and organisations that participated in the project through a guided tour. Most of the recordings are in Zulu (the organisers that some kind of translation is coming soon), so I definitely have get back to Zulu lessons.