Monday, January 31, 2011

DLALA INDIMA - Phakamisa

The past 1&1/2 weeks have seen a lot of improvements as we finally got the preparation behind us. Kwanele and I have been looking at ways of speeding up the preparatory work while still finding time to engage the youth in brainstorming possible additions or improvements to Dlala Indima.

One of the best advancements was the clearing of the litter/dump site behind the Old Butchery Building. A few weeks ago we hit the Local Parks Municipality Offices in King William’s Town in the early morning and found reliable assistance from Bradley Cooper, the Solid Waste Manager in the District.
  After lengthy discussions and the usual bureaucratic to and fro we managed to confirm the booking of a TLB that is used only to dig graves in our cemetery to visit our site for only half a day for clearing.  In a series of unfortunate and at times resilient events, we ended up with only half the space cleared as the TLB suffered a ruptured oil filter and a tyre burst. We are currently working on having it return to finish up immediately.


A final “jigsaw” in the renovation of the Old Butchery also helped our hastening preparatory advances. The installation of a roller door. This officially renders the space rounded off and ready for an intensive makeover.


Mak1one has arrived in Phakamisa and we spent the w/end getting him around the Township and its youth again. Today (Monday) we spent the entire day on site preparing the surfaces for painting. We receive our P.V.A paint for exterior painting of surfaces tomorrow. 



Friday, January 28, 2011

Hermon - Domino Effect

Leone's youth group have not been interested in painting banners, and so thank goodness I bumped into Lientjie Raubenheimer born in 1928 (83 years old). She paints and does needlework with a group of older women in Hermon. She giggled at the youngsters designs and walked away happy with materials to paint a banner....

The street from her stoep.
And Connie from the Hermon Hotel will paint 2 banners - yay for the women.
Anna in one of the last photographs inside her house - this month February, the municipality will start renovating and she will have a bath, toilet - running water in the house, her own electricity and plastered walls.

Anna's neighbour Katie, asked for this photograph of her house before it changes.

Donald and the Domino Dancers continue......

And one evening, street lights on, 3 big guys came sauntering down the street - like a 70's western movie - 3 members of the Sports Forum. After Chris's battle to meet face to face with the municipality - it seems these guys are it. The permission givers have given their blessing.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Throughout our explorations of Dundee there was one site that got us excited from the outset and that was the Union Street Municipal Bath. We had stumbled upon pictures of the pool (opened in 1924) while sifting through the Talana archives.

Apparently the pool dried up a few years after the Municipality sold it to the neighbouring junior school.

This site was mentioned in several of our oral history interviewees’ recollections, and often referred to as one of the relics of Dundee’s “Golden Years”. There are numerous theories around why the facility was abandoned.

An elderly Zulu man we chatted to told us that post 1994 a bitter resident --determined not to see the facility become a multi-racial one—ensured it was closed down rather than shared. We were also told that in recent years the pool had failed to attract much interest, perhaps due to the fact that most bathers were from Dundee’s affluent suburbs and eventually had private pools installed on their own properties.

Since arriving here we have been keen to work with the local re-enactment group The Dundee Die Hard’s and decided the deep-end of this pool would be the perfect stage for our collaboration. It took a morning to prep the venue, sweeping several bin loads of foliage and smashed glass from out of its interior.

Die Hard team leader Gavin Slater managed to convince his Red Coat army to participate while the visiting Siwela Sonke performers (and our co-collaborator Bongikosi Ngobese) doubled as our Zulu Impi.

We were excited by the possibilities of using the space at night, lugging in a generator and experimenting with our performers and some theatrical side- lighting. Our aim was to film several passes of the feuding re-enactors and (in post-production) layer them over one another to create scenes reminiscent of Anglo-Zulu War battle paintings.

Cleaning and utilising the pool generated a large amount of interest and discussion in the local newspaper (The Courier) and on its Facebook page. Below are just a few of the comments posted on the site as a result of our activities.

Antony Ware Shocking that this pool was allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair!

Tracy Grobbelaar Gosh looks like a lot of stuff is abandoned in Dundee. I had a look on Google maps yesterday at the show grounds were I used to do horse riding....I almost started crying at the state of what I saw. Does nobody care anymore?

Ninette Du Plessis It’s shocking - drove past there a few weeks ago. Even the grass is not being cut - does this still belong to the municipality or privately owned. I suggest you turn this into a useful space rather than once for 'strange events' - turn it into a skate park for the kids!

Northern Natal Courier @Ninette the strange events may but propel the powers that be or some in the community to indeed get the pool to be a useful community facility again. See next week for news of said event in the pool.

Janine McCallum Very sad to see the state of that pool. Had many good times there while we young and still at school. I agree Tracy it is shocking at the state of the town in general. Was up there over a year ago to place a plaque up for my late dad and we appalled not just at the town but some of the house in general and especially our old house, it was so sad.

Gerhard Potgieter Wow! Small town mentality always amazes me. Firstly no one knows the nature of the activity in the photo but give negative remarks, not fair. At least something is happening in this negative space and it can possibly be the start of something new and positive. Problem is lots of small town people fall in a rut and all they do is complain and be negative. I see so much potential in Dundee every time I get there. When you live in a small town it is easier to do things yourself if council cant/wont. Changes like these also tend to stand out and evoke positive energy. Have any of you petitioned council regarding their unkempt premises? Why can't you people in conjunction the Courier make this the year of action? Let the Courier ask the hard questions. What stops anyone here to send an e-mail and post the reply and the timeline right here?

Stella Mckenzie Smuts The pool seemed so much deeper when it was full of water and I was very small!!!! Pity someone can't buy the whole area and develop it into a resort or fun park or someone - could be a draw card for visitors to Dundee.

Ninette Du Plessis @Gerhard. How can one not be negative when there was a stage when all was so well kept and now left to be as it is now. Positive would be for someone to turn this into a well used facility in time. Has really nothing to do with small town mentality and think that is rather harsh.

Janine McCallum I just think general smaller towns are not what they are anymore if it was not for work prospects we as family would have stayed there but we had leave to carry on living. I do miss the closeness of a small town here in the city you hardly know your neighbours. It is sad really.

Tracy Grobbelaar Have not been in Dundee for 12 years now....not so sure I would want to come back.....all the old places don’t look the same....gosh even my old house has changed....all the lovely big trees were chopped down..

Tracy Federici Don’t know about strange events but looks like a cool place to develop into an open air theatre for music events and plays/productions, add a few seating stands and there you have an interesting little attraction.

Marthie Burger I can still smell the chlorine coming down that steps.... and hear Mrs. Wessels ordering us to shower before we get into the pool (so that our hearts don’t stop when we enter into the cold water) haha - we had such wonderful times in that pool.

Gerhard Potgieter @Ninette you say:" positive would be for someone to turn this into a well used facility in time." You slagged this pic off from the word go and painted yourself into a corner...If council does not want/can’t do anything then why don’t the citizens start a initiative themselves, it is another option besides just complaining. In the pic there is a video camera on a tripod and this points to creativity, creative thoughts are great for problem solving, harness them. Dundee has got great potential, sadly it is a small town mentality and I have seen it all over the world.

Gerhard Potgieter It is an empty pool with either a small incline or decline depending on which side you view it from. Build a stage on the grass of the shallow end and build in access steps from the deep-end, the audience already has an elevated view of the performers. Seating does not need to be permanent. Lighting can most probably be done from the surrounding wall.

Cathy Grey Your art gives us something to think about, well done guys.

Kelly Louise Steenkamp Can't we do a function of some kind at the old pool?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


For the past three months Neil Coppen and Vaughn Sadie have been living in the historic battlefield town of Dundee in Northern Kwa Zulu Natal as part of VANSA’S (The Visual Arts Network of South Africa) '2010 Reasons to Live in A Small Town' Residency. Their project titled 'Living Within History' saw them working in conjunction with locals, historians, community groups, re-enactors, tour guides and learners.

With a culture of historic re-enactment (the tradition of replaying or repeating the past through performance) already existing in the town, the artists via a series of workshops worked towards staging a series of unconventional re-enactments in public spaces around Dundee. Says Sadie 'We never intended to focus on Dundee’s more fabled figures and terrains, but rather reveal how history is founded on smaller, less grandiose personal narratives'. 'Of interest to us' adds Coppen 'are those places within the town that have existed on the fringes of popular historic imagination. We have looked at the everyday history of citizens from various communities, recording small yet significant personal histories and imagining how the present (or everyday ) might come to be memorialised in the future'.

A series of workshops required participants to re-locate and re-imagine themselves into events from the past, and a range of mediums such as collage, film, stop- motion- animation, song, dance and music were employed. Guest facilitators included Publicist Sharlene Versveld and Musical facilitators Karen Van Pletsen, Clive Gumede and Siyanda Mwandla. During the month of January, Coppen and Sadie staged a series of re-enactments (in collaboration with traditional music groups and Siwela Sonke performers Sibusiso Gantsa, Mxolisa Nkomode, Ntombikayise Gasa and Neliswa Rushualang) in a variety of spaces around the town.

For their final intervention, the artists are renting an empty store on 49 Wilson Street using it as a temporary gallery/project space. The Gallery will be open from Thursday 27th through to Sunday 30th , with a function on Saturday the 29th from 5:00 pm onwards. The space will be used to display documentation of their various collaborations and interventions.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

DLALA INDIMA - Phakamisa

Renovation of the Old Butchery
We are fortunate enough to have a lot of talented bricklayers and construction workers in Phakamisa so scouting around for help with renovation proved relatively easy. We found help within a few days and here are some shots from a site that seems to be evolving daily. It was really exciting being in the new cleared space that was undergoing plastering and leveling. More good news was that the clearing of the glass has encouraged the glass recycling company to collect ALL the glass and pay the owner lady her collections worth. 
So we have seen that the collection of glass from the dozens of shebeens that litter our streets along with the empty beer bottles could fuel a good relationship with a recycling cause. 8 Drums have been bought, these will be used to keep the bottles ready for the collectors and during renovations.
The space is changing radically, and finding interesting ways to use the original, raw,textured shape of the building whilst seeking inspiration are taking vicious shape. 
15 Jan 2011

DLALA INDIMA - Phakamisa

Preparation and Renovation
The youth have definitely taken up the call and the words DLALA INDIMA are quickly spreading. Kwanele has successfully put together a local clean-up team that has done an outstanding job in clearing the site and preparing it for renovation. Here are some before and after shots.
Work was in the harsh sun and intense. Neighbors have occasionaly brought over ice water to the clean-up team and small crowds gather and enquire at times. The building has been cleared and readied for preparation. 
01 January 2011

DLALA INDIMA - Phakamisa

Exploring King Williams Town, Phakamisa and its surrounds.

This day was to be spent connecting with the spaces and surrounding areas.

The hip-hop workshops that we have been conducting have increased in volume and now tour the neighboring townships and locations.  So off we went to Ginsberg (6km outside Phakamisa) with Mak1one publicizing Dlala Indima. It is important to note that because of the proximity of the townships, the “ripple effect” of the street shows and workshops has a huge effect on the strength of Dlala Indima because the foundation has been laid long before. A few possible ideas involving the inclusion of local artists on a soundtrack to a DVD of the making of Dlala Indima  were finalised.

Mak1one, Angelo Charles and myself spent the rest of the afternoon carefully inspecting the derelict building that will be renovated, discussing ways of preserving the history of the building into the design of the renovation. Creative ways of integrating the glass recycling aspect into the space and activities were discussed. Matters involving the registration of interested parties were also taken to mind.  Kwanele has successfully rounded up volunteers and we are now ready to remunerate local assistance for the loads of cleaning up to prepare for renovation.

From here we viewed the bus stops, manholes and streetlights and made relevant measurements and notes to consider aesthetically.
07 Nov 2010

DLALA INDIMA - Review Posts

We will be starting with some of our journals that we havent had a chance to post on the blog. Starting from our very first meeting and brainstorms last year (below).

We set up a meeting in the local Small Business Centre with all interested youth and community leaders to introduce Dlala Indima and our collaborating artist Mak1one to the community and get ideas flowing on what the community expects along with all their input. 


The youth involved came prepared and a vast amount of inspiration and relevant insight was shared. Among some of the ideas shared were :

·      Encouragement to pursue sports, as the EC is rich in sports talent

·      Awareness to Education

·      Teenage Pregnancy

·      Breaking down the inter-social barriers (a common topic in most the projects as noted in the workshops)

·      Getting to the bottom of drug and alcohol abuse by instilling a strong family, social, cultural message as a foundation to build from


The discourse lasted well into the late afternoon with heated debates all round. The turnout was not as we expected and we immediately set out to counter that with a strong word of mouth campaign. It was noted during the debriefing that an awareness campaign using posters and pamphlets was to be taken up (since then we have designed, printed and distributed pamphlets with information regarding registration and support in and around Phakamisa; see attachments)


We ended the day with a quick live painting session that was received very well by some of the children and locals. 


hermon domino toernooi

Monday, January 24, 2011

DUNDEE : 97 McKenzie Street

When we first arrived in Dundee we were amazed at how many gate posts remained at the entrances to empty properties around the town. One of which was 97 Mackenzie Street, situated in the middle of a Dundee suburb. All that remains on the site are two gate-posts (minus gate) and the foundations of a structure.

We began asking locals, passer-bys and neighbours what they knew of the house: Who had lived there? What had happened to the building? Were there any plans to build on the property in the near future. Details were sketchy, what we did manage to learn is that Public Works in Ladysmith own the property and hires two ladies to trim back the grass with machetes.

The only record of the building we could find in the archives was an aerial photograph of the neighbourhood taken in 1944. Who had previously lived there and what happened to the home- like so much of history in this region-- is open to speculation.

With our collage workshop participants we set about imagining our own version of what the building might have looked like and what may have happened to it. We initiated the project by first drawing maps of the foundations of our own homes, this followed by a trip to the site where we began to trace the foundations of the Mckenzie house.

We walked the brick remains and imagined how it may have looked all those years back. Each participant was encouraged to find a room and re-enact an activity that might have taken place there. Such activities called on a range of mime and gesture (opening and closing imaginary drawers and doors) causing passerby’s to stop and observe the absurd goings on.

Back in the Umzinyathi Education Centre we began sketching foundation maps of the Mackenzie house and each participant was asked to write a fictional narrative around the property and imagine what had happened to it. Stories involved lighting strikes, spooks, fires and bulldozers. A mound of earth under a tree in the garden was said by one kid to have been the grave of a murdered resident.

The Mackenzie site is situated along the walking route to and from Sibongile. The pavement sees a steady stream of foot traffic. For the second part of the project we decided to call on the passing pedestrians, using our team of kids and the many lessons we had learned in the collage workshops to help imagine a future of this property.

On a Wednesday morning, we set up a large trestle table on the pavement, in front of the Mackenzie gate posts. Our co-collaborator Bongikosi Ngobese headed up the intervention with support from energetic young workshop members.

To activate and create interest in the site, Vaughn and volunteers set about marking the house foundations with chalk-lime and then later with poles and string.

On the pavement table we spread out hundreds of cut- up images: pieces of Dundee houses and architecture (recent and old) which included windows, doorways, rooftops, chimneys etc.

Passer-bys were asked to stop and look at the neglected lot and imagine what building or facility they would like to see built there. Suggestions ranged from clinics, orphanages, taxi- ranks, churches, mines, temples, housing complexes and colleges.

Each participant was then asked to use the collage pieces to create the type of building or facility they envisioned. This resulted in a range of architectural styles (assembled from old and new pieces of Dundee). Each collage was photographed and subsequently animated for a projected evening performance on a screen erected over the house foundations on the site.

A second improvised performance/ re-enactment at the Mackenzie Site was undertaken this last weekend with performers from the Siwela Sonke dance company. Using our demarcated string foundations as their performing space and employing a few costumes and props which included plastic stools, a radio, wine glasses, an umbrella and washing basket the performers set about inhabiting the non-existent house.

A demanding housewife (Neliswa Rushualang ) in wedding dress and Victorian tea-party hat barked orders at her long suffering domestic worker (Ntombikayise Gasa) who attempted to clean, wash, vacuum and dust the property while seeing to her Madame’s every demand.

The woman’s son (Mxolisa Nkomode) slouched in front of the telly while fellow resident (Sibusiso Gantsa) spent the afternoon partying up a storm with radio blaring at full volume.

The two hour long re-enactment saw pedestrians stopping to steal glimpses through the imaginary walls. Cars, reversed and pulled-over, concerned neighbours peered over fences (horrified that this delusional family might turn out to be their new neighbours), while children returning from school gathered in giggling clumps to watch the suburban drama unfold.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Albie Louw of Hermon

Born 5 November 1919

Albie was born in Brooklyn in the Western Cape, and despite his longevity, has a wonderful sparkle of life in his eyes, and amazing power of recall, down to small detail.

One of his most vivid recollections is that of active service in World War II. In December 1940 he volunteered, and was transported to Kimberley for initial training. It only lasted from 11-29 December at the Du Toits Kloof Mine before they were mobilised.

The route for Coloured troops was by road (for the Whites by sea) and traversed a route through the British Colonies to Kenya, then north again. It was the rainy season so the journey was tortuous, with many stops necessary to dig out vehicles. The overnight camps consisted of about 250 men and they subsisted mainly on a monotonous biscuit and beef diet.

Eventually they arrived in Mogadishu, Somalia, where they boarded ships that sailed via the Suez Canal to Port Said for disembarkation. Next stop was Cairo to prepare for battle and the South Africans eventually joined the 8th Army under General Montgomery, for the assault against German troops led by Rommel.

Albie remembers specific times, dates and places, and can describe in detail events and scenes from battles. He has carried these images for a long time. His pride today is the medals he received for the campaigns.

After the war he returned to the Cape and worked for what was then South African Railways. In 1956 he was transferred to Hermon, and has lived in the same house since, in what would have been the only street for much of the time. He retired in 1979.

He refers to the village as a single street where everyone knew of all the goings on. If not employed as he was the others worked on local wheat or sheep farms. A simple life, unchanging, until now.

Albie is seated left in the picture, next to his old friend