Artscape Women’s Humanity Festival celebrates milestones of courage and strength
Artscape Theatre is the place to be this women’s month. Now in its 17th year, during the month of August the Theatre Centre on Cape Town’s Foreshore has been the focal point for women’s empowerment and the arts with the Artscape Women’s Humanity Festival recalling and celebrating the boldness and courage of the 20 000 women who marched against the pass laws and racial oppression on 9 August back in 1956.
With this year’s theme, MILESTONES: Celebrating, Supporting, Empowering Women of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, it promises to be yet another special treat not be missed.
Three icons will be celebrated this year as symbols of courage and strength: the late Cissie Gool, first black female advocate admitted to the Cape Bar marks 100 years of Women in Law in South Africa. Fatima Dike, well-known playwright from Langa and the first black South African woman to have a play published and performed, celebrates over half a century in the industry. Lastly, we honour world renowned writer, storyteller and author of countless books, Sindiwe Magona on her 80th birthday with two books recently published in her honour.
But the Artscape Women’s Humanity Festival, hosted in association with Woman Zone and the Suidoosterfees, really is for everybody. With gender-based violence on the rise, as a society we must all make every effort to address and change cultural beliefs, unfair religious practices, hurtful language and behaviour that continue to dehumanise and objectify women. The Women’s Humanity Festival also embraces the LGBTQ A+ community. ‘AbFab’ (Absolutely Fabulous) stories, for instance are about embracing yourself as a human being. The Women’s Humanity Festival especially embraces persons with disability who are so often ‘invisible’, “because,” says Marlene le Roux, CEO of Artscape, “their lives matter too”.
The highlight of the Festival remains the all-inclusive, Women’s Humanity Walk. Taking place, as always, on National Women’s Day, 9 August, this year the route does a circuit around the historic Foreshore precinct, starting and finishing on the Artscape piazza and symbolising women’s role in demanding peace and justice. Everyone – women, men and children – are invited to make a bold statement by bringing banners of their organisations and wearing the clothes of their professions. The route will pass by three women-significant statues and there will be poetry readings in front of each. There will be a range of exciting activities on the day (and indeed throughout the month) with stallholder services, music and performance. “NGOs, community organisations, churches, mosques – all faiths and cultures are welcome” says le Roux, “come and join the Women’s Humanity Walk to show your support for women and let us celebrate our collective, united humanity!”
Also be on the lookout for a special concert by the internationally acclaimed Cape Flats hip-hop star, Dope Saint Jude, with three EPs to her name, on 9 August. Born in Elsies River as Catherine Saint Jude Pretorius, she began her career as a drag king, soon moving to producing and performing her own music which she describes as a soundtrack for feminist inclusivity, acceptance and empowerment. She has also been noted for bringing a “queer” edge to the South African hip-hop scene.
The Festival also remembers iconic women who passed on in the last year: Gloria Bosman, Dr Latozi ‘Madosini’ Mpahleni, struggle activist Blanche la Guma and Kimendhri Pillay, senior manager at the New World Foundation, a longstanding stakeholder of the Festival, and well-known poet, Primrose Mwebi. Special tribute will be paid to the all-women hip-hop group Godessa who painted a portrait of their experiences as coloured women living in the Western Cape, and the late Jo-Ann Petersen, a former Artscape colleague who helped introduce the hip-hop genre at the theatre.
A few teasers of this year’s programme:
The Artscape Women’s Humanity Festival is made possible with the support from the City of Cape Town, Provincial Government Western Cape and the National Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.