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eMzantsi brings Ubuntu to Afrika Burn

in June 2012 - eMzantsi Carnival

During the Freedom Day long weekend, a group of 40 young people from the eMzantsi community-building project facilitated a Carnival in the Karoo as part of the AfrikaBurn Festival. AfrikaBurn is a spectacular creative expression of festival-goers who gather once a year to create a temporary town of art, theme camps and performance.

It has been running for six years and is inspired by the Burning Man Festival of ‘radical self-expression and self-reliance’ which has been happening in the Nevada desert for more than 20 years.

eMzantsi was invited by international collaborative artist John Quigley (aka Spectral Q) to mobilise 1000 people to create an aerial image of Nelson Mandela’s head. He has produced around 200 such images including icons such as Che Guevara and Martin Luther King. The image of Madiba was designed by Kommetjie local, Sidney Ryan and consists of a single line, like a droplet of water, that runs to form his face. You can see a painting of it next to the mural at the Living Art Farm on Main Road in Noordhoek.

For several years, Sidney’s Projekt Ubuntu has been seeking to promote this image overseas to raise international consciousness of the spirit of Ubuntu.

Last December, Sidney collaborated with Spectral Q at the COP 17 conference in Durban. They mobilised 2500 schoolchildren on the beach to produce the image of a roaring lion’s head to celebrate Africa’s commitment to combating climate change.

In the barren landscape of the Karoo, eMzantsi had just two days to run recycled costume and drumming workshops to inspire festival-goers to join the Carnival. In the event, more than 1500 took part in the parade led by Mark Dodsworth of RedZebra and the eMzantsi bloco, a ghoema-samba Carnival band of brass and drums, and 1200 populated the Madiba image.

It was the first time the eMzantsi Carnival had performed outside the South Peninsula, and eMzantsi MD Sam Pearce said ‘It was very rewarding to see AfrikaBurn’s appreciation of eMzantsi-style unity-in-diversity in action. We gathered 1500 participants in half an hour - that usually takes us a year in Fish Hoek!’ Thank you to the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and local support from Rodgers Fruiterers, South Peninsula Tool Hire and
Thulalula electric bikes, for making it happen.

To find out more on the eMzantsi community building project, call , visit www.emzantsi.org.za or find us on Facebook.

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