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Getting to know Sharpeville Interview Q&A


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Gandhi Legacy Tour - Satyagraha Tour of South Africa

A Day In Sharpeville -

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Getting to know Sharpeville Interview Q&A

  1. 1. NICHO CAN YOU SHARE A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE HISTORY OF SHARPEVILLE AND ITS MASSACRE? Nicho Ntema – Sharpevilleoligist, historian & future scenario planner Although a commission of enquiry was held into the events at Sharpeville, what actually happened is still subject to a dispute. Only a few facts came to light, none of the police involved in the massacre were convicted. As Sharpeville is turning 75 years this year, so much has happened since its birth from the remnants of Top Location; a slum settlement in the present Duncanville, in Vereeniging, which ceased to exist in the early 1960’s, though decommissioned due to the birth of Sharpeville in 1942. The Sharpeville Massacre, which occurred 18 years later since the birth of Sharpeville on the afternoon of Monday the 21st March 1960 (near the old Sharpeville Police Station), instantly put the name Sharpeville on the headlines of the world’s newspapers as well as engraving this unique Scottish migrant-named village history within the history books of the world. John Lillie Sharpe; a Scot who came to work as a Secretary for Stewards and Lloyds and later becoming the Mayor of Vereeniging, got his name immortalized in Sharpeville as he was known to have been having a soft spot for black residents’ issues at Top Location. Some 24 years later after the 1960 Massacre, the Vaal Uprisings which started on the 3rd of September 1984 and had Sharpeville participating within it through its Sharpeville Rent Crisis Committee, gave birth to the Sharpeville Six which were five men and a woman sentenced to death for the murder of Jacob Khuzwayo Dlamini; a local deputy mayor of the Lekwa City Council. These two significant, though distant events, propelled Sharpeville’s name to the international discussion platforms of the world. They both generated the only two States of Emergency ever declared in South Africa, and both also got United Nations’ Resolutions and further kept the name of Sharpeville within newsrooms of the world for the past 57 years.
  2. 2. LAS VEGAS WAS JUST HOME TO THE DEADLIEST SHOOTING MASSACRE THE UNITED STATES HAS EVER FACED IN ITS HISTORY. IS THERE ANY ADVICE THE SHARPEVILLE COMMUNITY CAN SHARE WITH THE COMMUNITY MEMBERS OF LAS VEGAS SUFFERING THE HEARTBREAK OF SUCH A HORRIFIC MOMENT? Atrocities like these rebuild communities. Sharpeville is home to almost 40000 residents within a 4.99 square kilometer radius. The 21 March 1960 Sharpeville Massacre remains the main collective identity of all these residents even three to four generations apart. Today this tragic event remains the most common unifier. In all events where hatred is projected at anyone in mankind, that should drive ALL to yield positivity, to learn from it and continue doing good for the good of all of mankind. NINA HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH THE SHARPEVILLE COMMUNITY? Nina du Toit Saunders. I became involved with the Sharpeville community through her 10-year experience as a lecturer for English Methodology and English Didactics and English Communication at the then Sebokeng College of Education from 1984 to 1994 (The dawn of democracy in South Africa). I became the coordinator of a process instituted at the college for Total Quality Management and Institutional Self Improvement. As a result, I stepped out of the lecture room and into bringing community and other relevant stakeholders to the institution’s processes for greater unity, involvement and participation and ownership as the college prepared for the demise of apartheid and dawn of the 1st democratic elections in South Africa in 1994. As part of this program me and my cofounder Sophie Mokoena (then an SRC student leader and now heading up the News Desk at the South African Broadcasting Corporation) designed a mass empowerment program for the approximately 700 students, running values audits and needs analysis to determine the content of the program. The program consequently incorporated skills not acquired during the formal tuition program, such as leadership, voter education, financial life skills, role models in entrepreneurship, nonviolence and conflict resolution which brought me to seeking and inviting Arun Gandhi to run programs. The nonviolence programs he conducted at the college and within the community made a significant contribution to ensuring a peaceful approach and environment for the 1st Democratic Elections in 1994. Arun worked with the youth brigades of various political parties such as the ANC Youth League, the Inkatha Youth Brigade and the PAC Youth Brigades. He worked with the students of the college and varied Youth and Community Structures in an area of South Africa called the Vaal Triangle.
  3. 3. This area incorporates historically white towns such as Vanderbijlpark, Vereeniging, Sasolburg and the traditionally black townships of Sebokeng, Boipatong, Bophelong, Zamdela, Evaton, Orange Farm. The programs were supported by local talent and the specific talents of individuals such as Gamakulu Diniso – a playwright and artist. Young leaders such as Chris Rashoalane and Joshua Mabaso who ran community based industrial theatre programs on HIV / Aids and Quality and other relevant topics formed part of the leadership in the program of Mass Empowerment at the College. NINA CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT GAMAKULA DINISO AND HOW YOU MET? Gamakulu Diniso is a playwright and artist hailing from Sharpeville. I started working with him on the empowerment programs in 1992/3. How I met Gamakulu is important to me as he was sent to me by my father. Gama had gone to Zimbabwe in the year before we met to conduct his one man play Ikasi June 1993 which addressed issues of ANC and PAC tug of war and all other political parties blaming one another. He says he felt safe to say what he wanted to say there. One evening after his performance, when he was back in his dressing room he was advised that there were two white Afrikaans people wanting to see him. He says he was alarmed. Thinking that the South African Government had sent spies to follow him. He waited, hoping they would leave, but was again reminded that they were waiting patiently for him by a backstage hand. When he heard that one of the two was a woman, he says he felt he would see them, possibly there would not be harm or arrest if a woman was present. The man and woman waiting for him were my father Johannes Jurgens du Toit and my mother Tina du Toit. My father wanted to chat with Gama about the play and the themes brought out during the play and learn more about his life and work. When my father heard that Gama was from Sharpeville he asked him to find me, his daughter as I was working in Sebokeng, a neighbouring to Sharpeville township. My father told Gamakulu to go to the college and ask for Nelina! This was my full name, but everyone called me NINA. No one but my parents called me Nelina. So, Gama returned to South Africa and he heeded the request from my father and came to look for me at the college. Of course, no one in the college administrative staff knew anyone by the
  4. 4. name Nelina, but finally on his instance that there HAD to be such a person, decided that “Nina” was the most similar name. Thus, they called me in my office and told me that there was someone looking for a NELINA and could that be me? Well of course I was amazed. Who could this be who knew my full name? That is how I met Gama and we started working together on the mass empowerment program and we still work together this many years later and my interest and love and affinity for the Sharpeville Community grew through friendships with people whom Gama had groomed and grown in this theatre. People such as Nicho Mojalefa Ntema and Modisana Mabele. I was delighted that Arun Gandhi and the touring group could return to spend a day with us in Sharpeville on their last tour in South Africa and that the tour is returning to learn more about Sharpeville and help to support the work of rebuilding this amazing community. The work Arun Gandhi did is 1993 was important in laying a foundation for a peaceful transition to democracy for South Africa and all its citizens. He lived, not only his grandfather’s legacy and philosophy, BUT more importantly laid down a track of his own work here in the Vaal Triangle and South Africa and more specifically in Sharpeville and the surrounding communities. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST PASSION PROJECT YOUR PROMOTE AND WHY? Sharpeville2020 Vision Platform There is a process underway called the Sharpeville Vision 2020. It is THE ULTIMATE ECONOMIC REVIVAL, DEVELOPMENT AND ADVANCEMENT PLAN FOR SHARPEVILLE AND ITS IMMEDIATE NEIGHBOURS. This plan has four major action plans that should be tried, tested and realized by 2020. This concept is the brain child of Nicho Ntema; a Sharpeville- born development strategist and economics enthusiast, with twenty years’ experience as a tourism player and a visionary scenario planner.
  5. 5. The overall vision of the development plan is the revitalize the Sharpeville “City” with a focus on socio-economic upliftment and development. Sharpeville is an internationally recognized City and has a marketable brand. The objectives are to change the city into a place of work, play, life, relaxation, tourism and entertainment, training and culture. WHAT IMPACT IS YOUR PASSION PROJECT HAVING ON THE COMMUNITY? Within the next three years, the four pillars below should generate programs and projects along other supplementary and complementary existing initiatives that are uniquely Sharpeville based, focused or oriented. THE SEEISO STREET AND PRECINCTS ECONOMIC STUDY is underway in partnership with the North West University Subject Group; Economics led by Prof. Daniel Meyer. This study has commenced research studies to investigate the viability of economic activity within the Sharpeville’s Main Seeiso Street and the Human Rights Precinct and develop plans for selected nodes and operations within those nodes for economic activity enhancement. The development and advancement of the identified nodes shall precede the Tourism Development that will be completed by the development and the implementation of the Sharpeville Destination and Marketing Plan for the five years with reviews every five years thereafter. Furthermore the program encompasses the dream of establishing a Centre for Liberation, Consciousness and Non Violence in Sharpeville in a proposed partnership with the University of The North West Vaal Campus. Please see attached concept document for your insight and comment and participation / support. NINA CAN YOU SHARE WITH US ABOUT SMILING AND LAUGHTER? Laughter is a great and natural stress reliever. Pure natural and extended laughter without comedy and jokes has proven scientific impact on the mind, body and soul. Across the world people are battling with the debilitating effects of stress on their personal physical and mental health and wellness. So too, societies are relatedly impacted upon by the stress burden of the individuals which comprise the community and society. The effects of stress can be seen in the daily interaction amongst people, be they family, community, nations. A stressed person suffers burnout on physical, emotional and psychological levels and resultantly has low levels of empathy, tolerance, creativity, compassion, positive engagement with others. Thus, they are more inclined to become fearful, desperate, angry, irrational and react with violence. A stressed nation becomes a danger to itself and others. Stress is the elephant in the room!
  6. 6. I have always been a very positive person and loved communicating hope, peace and love. In this respect, laughter therapy found a home in my mind and heart, as a tool to actively help at an individual or group level with the negative effects of stress, helping them to find the way back to hope, joy and peace. I was trained as laughter therapist in 2007 and am one of the longest practicing laughter therapists in South Africa, possibly in Africa. I have laughed with pre-schools, schools, university staff, NGO’s, carers, nurses, pathologists, pharmacists, doctors, lawyers, bankers, churches and faiths ranging from Christian to Muslim. Corporate clients large and small and community organizations, youth and the elderly. I would love to see everyone practicing laughter daily as individuals and communities and workplace integration of a culture of joy and peace. Laughter therapy is a natural link to the principles of Non – Violence and provides people with a tool to get the that point in their minds, where they can see themselves more positively and relate better to their own and other’s problems. I would love to trial laughter in a school / workplace and measure the impact over a period of time. Laughter at Feeding Scheme Schools in Sebokeng with Lebo Mopo and John Mofokeng
  7. 7. Laughter with Construction Workers in Johannesburg
  8. 8. Laughter with Forensic Pathology HOW CAN PEOPLE SUPPORT YOUR WORK AND EFFORTS? There is a lot we do. We believe in collaborations and ideas exchange. We can forge partnerships in various processes and projects that will have an impact on their lives of our people. One such collaboration is the North-West University Economics and Education Departments involvement within our concepts. Please go through the following websites and we can discuss several common interests we may have: Book tours through Sharpeville Truth Tours
  9. 9. GANDHI SAID, IF WE ARE GOING TO TEACH REAL PEACE, IT BEGINS WITH THE CHILDREN. HOW ARE YOU INCORPORATING GANDHI'S PHILOSOPHY OF NONVIOLENCE INTO THE WORK YOU DO WITHIN THE SHARPEVILLE COMMUNITY? We have been pushing for the establishment of a Centre for Liberation, Consciousness and Non-Violence. Please see Centre for Liberation concept document. WHAT CAN THE SATYAGRAHA TOUR OF SOUTH AFRICA PARTICIPANTS DO TO COME MORE PREPARED FOR OUR UPCOMING VISIT WITH THE SHARPEVILLE COMMUNITY? Plant a Tree: There is a farm Vukuzenzele within Sharpeville that we have identified as one of the flagship projects within the Sharpeville Vision 2020 process. It would be great to have a couple of indigenous trees planted within this farm to symbolize the deep-rooted spirit we all have on non-violence, peace and reconciliation. Penpals for Youth Further it would be great if participants of the tour could establish pen pal relationships with youth in the community so that their minds can see the larger world and the possibility of other opportunities. Scholarship Opportunities Bring information about scholarship opportunities. Agriculture Support Support through links and access to funding for the development of commercial urban hydroponic farm in Sharpeville. Support of Local Crafters Support the local crafters and services on the day of the visit.