Newsletter May 2012

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Tuesday, 1st May 2012

On 19th May, Somerset East's first Amabali Ethu (Our Stories) Arts Festival was staged. This was an initiative supported by Die Burger and Media 24, under the auspices of the Blue Crane Development Agency, and was the brainchild of Shaun Klaasen, Cultural Event manager for the BCDA. VIP's attending the event included BCDA Chairman, Prof. Jakes Gerwel, and Media 24's Lutvia Vaaji, both having come from Capetown to show their support for this venture. The intention of the programme was to tell the stories of the local communities through song, dance and drama in various venues through the town.

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The programme commenced at the Youth Centre with song and dance, and a dramatic evocation of the towns origins, before the audience walked on to the Glen Avon Hall, following the Boys and Girls Brigade marching band, and Shaun holding up the Amabali Ethu logo. An address on the history of the town from the Black perspective, and more song and dance - and then the more energetic in the audience followed Shaun and his sign through the streets of the township to William Oates School for more youth performances.

After marching along Paulet Street to the old Bellevue School, the crowd were treated to a dramatic depiction of the early days of Bellevue Seminary for Girls, performed by the Gill Drama Club, and then the Gumboot Dance Group, full of energy in spite of having performed twice already, reminded us of the days when the building was the local Kommando headquarters.

The crowd, by now of considerable size, them walked along Beaufort Street, and paused to witness a powerful and moving evocation of the impact of the Group Areas Act on local people. The misery, the violence, and the pain of dispossession were vividly depicted by the young members of the Aeroville Drama Group. Shaun then led the way to the NG Kerk Hall, to finish the day's performances with music - described as a "pot pourri". The Siyakathala Hospice Choir sang us into the hall, and once seated, the audience was treated to music of an incredible standard. Jeremy Quickfall at the piano accompanied the Amabli Ethu Choir, made up of talented locals, as well as singing himself. Capetown singers Robyn Marree and Cindy-Ann Abrahams gave stellar performances, but local 13 year old Tyral-Lee Miggels definitely stole the show.

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This was an event of great depth for the whole local community, and it is something which can be built on in the future; it is to be hoped that it can become an annual event.

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