by Sonja Kruse

Somehow different

We are all on a journey of discovery

An activist and an artist
Vumelani Sibeko

The biggest blessing of the Ubuntu journey is the continuation of the many connections made, families gained. Many of my host families inspire me daily with the work they do within their communities. Vumelani Sibeko is one of them. He is an artist. He is an activist. He is gentle, strong-spirited and he is a friend.

Notes from the Ubuntu Girl's diary:  

His face pulls into a lopsided frown, under the one wayward dreadlock that seems to always sneak over his face. That may just be this artist’s trademark. He concerns himself with the people around him. Like the way he makes time to give kids art lessons during the summer months to ensure they have stimulation, rather than just hanging around. There is a playground surrounded by homes, the walls of which face onto the square. Vumelani asked permission from the owners to have the children paint the walls with different themes each year. This year the theme was HIV/Aids. The walls proudly boast their red ribbons and messages of how HIV/Aids can be prevented: from the youth to the adults. Then there is also the work that he does with the local orphanage, run by Gogo Delisch.

He sent me this link to his latest work. Very powerful:

In this video, we meet Phumla Siyobi and Cutting Keith. Together, this group of artists prepares for a dramatic procession in Alexandra (a township situated in the city of Johannesburg) in order to make a statement against the issue of xenophobia, which has been a prominent cause of violence in this area - an exhibition that I believe he wants to take to the streets, globally. I find myself in awe. And in tears. This is about more than xenophobia; it is also about child abuse.

Besides imploring us to look at xenophobia, they are also showcasing that if we want to stand up for something in which we believe, we can do it in a way that is calm and gentle, yet more POWERFUL than when we raise our voices and give rise to senseless anger.

“Why are you asking for my passport? And not for my name? Or where I am from?” - Vumelani Sibeko

“We still are slaves. We believe that. We are mental slaves now. We are no more in chains. The chains are off our hands. But they are up here, in our minds. The mind is locked. That is why we have xenophobic attacks. C’mon, we should be over that by now. Now we are supposed to be going forward with our minds that are unlocked. We are supposed to be empowering the youth. We are supposed to be empowering the place we are living in.” - Phumla Siyobi

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Issue 23


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