The Khulumani Forum Theatre Group presented a performance in Dobsonville, Soweto on Social Identity and Xenophobia.
There were about sixty people in the audience, and a discussion was stimulated about who has a right to live and work in Johannesburg and how people, regardless of their country or origin, should be treated.
After the performance, the two groups of young people gathered informally to discuss the issues highlighted in the performance and to talk about life as young people in their respective countries.
The Norwegians were happy to talk in this space, but had been shy to stand up and become "spectactors" during the Forum Theatre performance. One Norwegian participant shared her delight that community members feel free to stand up and freely express their opinions on issues. She said that in Norway "no one would ever do that. They would be too shy".
The group is led by Ottar Nesje, a school teacher in Oslo who provides students with a gap year which includes visiting South Africa and Palestine. The group studies global human rights issues with a special focus on South Africa and Palestine.
As a part of their experience, the group had earlier in the day visited two Khulumani members, Ma Catherine Mlangeni and Ma Mavis Nhlapho Kubheka in their homes, where they listened to their stories about life in Apartheid South Africa. Ottar said that the group had read the book "In a Different Time" to get a background to the stories they were about to hear. This part of the day was facilitated by Khulumani's Zweli Mkhize.
Another visitor for the day was Aglaya Jimenez Turati, a PhD student from Italy where she is studying participatory dialogues around the topics of reconciliation within a South African context. She was very pleased to be able to see in action a dialogue between community members on important issues utilizing the social intervention tool of Forum Theatre.
Overall the day achieved its objectives. In my role as Programme Manager for Victim Empowerment, I provide continuous support to the Khulumani Forum Theatre Group. It was wonderful to see the efforts that the group had gone to in working to make the day a success. To prepare for this special event, group members had made many wonderful new props, and had rehearsed for many days to introduce new songs into the performance. Their enthusiasm is inspiring. As the day came to a conclusion, the two groups of young people from Norway and from South Africa, danced their way together to the awaiting transport.