Constitution Hill, in partnership with the human rights and social justice fraternity, is proud to present the inaugural Human Rights Festival from 23 to 25 March. “The Human Rights Festival provides an opportunity to celebrate the gains we have made, but more importantly, the festival highlights the action that is still required to realise social justice in South Africa, on the African continent and globally,” says Dawn Robertson, Constitution Hill CEO.
The Human Rights Festival commemorates Human Rights Day which pays homage to all those who lost their lives in the fight for democracy, particularly during the Sharpeville Massacre of 21 March 1960. It also highlights the work of social justice organisations and underlines the importance of civic activism and the values and principles enshrined in the constitution – equality; justice; freedom and dignity.
The Constitutional Court will form the backdrop of the festival which is built around a robust programme, involving social justice and human rights organisations and activists across all spectrums of our society. The festival, which is intended to celebrate, promote and defend human rights, will see three days of activism, debates, art, culture, exhibitions, books, poetry, comedy, film and music, alongside a food and designer-makers market. Entrance is free and the programme can be found at www.constitutionhill.org.za
The festival will open to the public on Friday, 23 March at 6pm when Constitution Hill and its partners open several exhibitions focused on issues of human rights. #JusticeForKomape is a documentary exhibition by SECTION27 on the Grade R learner Michael Komape who fell into pit toilet at Mahlodumela Primary School in Limpopo. Since the tragic death of Michael, SECTION27 has been working closely with the Komape family in their quest for justice.
A street photo exhibition which documents 700+ portraits of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers who are to be expelled from Israel will be exhibited outdoors on the precinct. The portraits of the asylum seekers’ photos were the culmination of a project by a group of independent photographers in Tel Aviv. There are also exhibitions by Artist Proof Studio and a child art exhibition by the Lalela Education Arts Centre. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider in the world, is partnering with acclaimed local artist Lady Skollie and the Ntethelelo Foundation in a groundbreaking art project working with 20 girls from the Ntethelelo Foundation’s youth programme in Stjwetla informal settlement near Alexandra. Lady Skollie has run three workshops to help participants connect their lived experiences with the rights enshrined in the constitution and then tell those stories through art.
The Bua Speak Out Poetry Fest “We Write to Salute You” on Friday, 23 is a tribute to Keorapetse William Kgositsile featuring Natalia Molebatsi, MoAfrika ‘a Mokgathi and Thabiso Afurakan Mohare.
The TriContinental Human Rights Film Festival primarily dedicated to issues of Social, Political and Human Rights on the African continent will also kick off on Friday night with a screening of Inxeba at 7pm. Other films includeWinnie, Not in my Neighborhood, Voetsek and Radiance of Resistance.
The Social Forum, is a central meeting place for discussions, debates and dialogues at the festival will be programmed by participating civil society organisations over the weekend.
Surrounding the Social Forum will be Activism Row where various participating civil society organisations stands will be located. Activism Row will provide an interactive social justice experience for festival attendees.
The Book Fair, which will also open over the weekend, includes book signings and panel discussions. Featured books include: The Empowered Native by Letepe Maisela, The Land is Ours by Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, Queer Africa 2 by Karen Martin and M Xaba and Fela: This Bitch of a Life by Carlos Moore.
Our Children Our Future, a children’s focus area at the festival will showcase the work of organisations in the field of children’s rights. A full programme of activities for children will run through the day on Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday, 24 from 5pm till midnight people are invited to party to a wide variety of sounds from Afro Soul to Hip Hop, Dance music and R&B by Samthing Soweto, Shekhinah, Tresor, Reason, Stogie T, Nancy G, Botswana’s Mpho Sebina, Lesotho’s Morena Leraba as well as Bongani Radebe, Umlilo & Stash Crew, Touchline and Makizar. DJ Kenzhero and Doo Wap will be on the decks.
The Constitution Hill annual ‘We the People Walk’, which takes its title from the preamble to the South African Constitution will take place on the morning of Sunday, 25 March. This year the walk celebrates the 21st anniversary of our constitution under the hashtag #WhatDoYouStandFor. The walk which starts and ends at Constitution Hill has a 8km as well as a 5km route which takes you past significant sites within the inner city. Children under the age of 12 can participate in the “We, the Children Walk” – a 1 km route around the precinct followed by fun- filled activities in the dedicated kid’s area of the Human Rights Festival.
The Constitution Hill Human Rights Festival is part of the official NM100 centenary programme which represents the focal point of the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s strategy to elevate the legacy and memory of Nelson Mandela. The NM100 programme has been crafted to provide the greatest opportunity for South Africa and the world to remember not just the personality of Nelson Mandela, but also what he stood for as a human being. This Human Rights Festival is about trying to build a country we imagine Madiba would be proud of.
The festival is free to the pubic but registration is required for the Music Festival and the ‘We the People Walk’. More details are available on the Constitution Hill website at www.constitutionhill.org.za