Archive | April, 2015

Authentic Storytellers Must Be Supported   By Cheryl Roberts

30 Apr

denise newmanLast night, whilst at the Baxter theatre in Cape Town to see a performance of ‘Cinnamon’ by acclaimed dance performer and choreographer, Glenda Jones, I enquired about ticket purchase for ‘Cold Case’. I was taken aback and surprised to hear that ‘ticket sales are slow and there are lots available’. With opening night a week away, by now, I thought tickets would have been in demand and selling, with a rush by people wanting to see this performance.

After all, this is a production of authentic storytelling, not for money or fame, but for a people’s remembrance against forgetting. ‘Cold Case’, is scripted by and performed by authentic and iconic storyteller and performers, Basil Appollis and Denise Newman. This production is about the life of anti-apartheid activist, Dulcie September, a woman teacher from Cape Town, who joined the ANC and went into exile only to be horrendously gunned down whilst representing the banned ANC in France.

Storytelling and recall about a people’s past and history, about how people have moved along their life’s journey and the significant moments about contextualized lives, are all pivotal to our understanding and knowledge of who we are and where we are.

Nowadays much more powerful storytelling is occurring in theatre and in film and in book writing, by those who know the imperative of passing on information about people’s past lives and living. Authentic storytellers, writers and film-makers are everywhere. Most times, it’s a struggle and hustle to produce, write and film the stories which must be told; the stories which are crying out to be appreciated and recognized.

When these productions are undertaken, it’s done because the storyteller and performer feels very strongly about giving it life on stage, in a book or on screen. Money is not the driving factor; its being done to remember the past, to be better informed and enlightened.

Being surprised and startled about the slow ticket sales, as I walked into the theatre space, I recalled how productions about ‘Coloured’ people’s resistance and life during apartheid were performed to sold out audiences in Cape Town.  Last night’s performance of ‘Cinnamon’ was abut 70 percent full.

This made me ask: ‘Why do people fill up theatre seats of storytellers like David Kramer and give his productions full house and sold out signs, yet don’t do the same when authentic storytellers from the very community of the people whose stories are being performed, stage their films/doccies and productions and publish their books?’

Look at how the productions by David Kramer, sometimes in collaboration with (the late) Taliep Petersen, bring ‘Coloured’ people to the theatre. Tickets for these productions are not cheap, yet people do attend to hear and see the stories of their ancestors and their lives. Yet, productions by authentic storytellers and professional performers such as Denise Newman, Basil Appollis, Glenda Jones are not playing to sold out audiences every performance.

These productions are initiated and undertaken with no budgets; most times they are self-maintained and dependent on purchase of tickets. Most times, sale of tickets move slowly.

What more must authentic storytellers do to get people’s interest and support? If the relevant stories are not told, then who is going to tell them? I can assure you that a white entrepeneur, with a brain for making money, is going to come along and make that story happen and the very same ‘Coloured’ people who should have supported the authentic storyteller, is going along to buy expensive theatre tickets for a production by a non-authentic storyteller.

I’m writing this blog to encourage Cape Town to go and see ‘Cold Case’. I haven’t seen it yet, but I know it’s relevant and significant. It must be seen. Denise Newman and Basil Appollis are authentic in their work and relevance on stage. They have undertaken this production with no funded budget. Yet, they are putting their ‘brand and name’ on the line to bring to stage the life of a human rights activist.

If we support productions by David Kramer about ‘Coloured’ people’s lives, then why don’t we support the authentic performers who write and stage the productions we should and must see?

White People’ s Control And Privilege In SA Sport Are Over!   By Cheryl Roberts

20 Apr


When are white people going to realise their time for control, domination and preference in South African sport is over? When are white people going to acknowledge that South African sport is not about white privilege, white elitism and white supremacy? And just when are white people going to understand that black people (all people not white in SA), are not quota players because of their skin colour?

The recent white euphoria about an ‘injured quota cricketer playing, ahead of a not-injured white cricketer’, in the cricket world cup semifinal for SA against New Zealand, has again spotlighted white racism and the clinging to white privilege and domination in SA sports like cricket and rugby. It also demonstrated white thinking is about seeing white players as people worthy of being in sport, in this instance cricket, with players of other colours being selected for representation as a quota contingent to make up colour numbers. The performances, abilities and sports prowess of players not white are discarded because the white lens sees ability first and foremost in whiteness.

This opinion of mine is not about all the events about that world cup semi-final defeat of South Africa, or about how bad SA’s cricket captain performed in his captaincy duty, which actually created SA’s defeat. It’s about how former and current white players and coaches and cricket followers actually believe that whites are selected on ability which is in their white lens, merit performance and how any black player in cricket (and rugby) is a quota player, just there to give colour complexion to the team.

This is horrendous white racism to believe that white players are always best and better than any other skin colour in cricket. We support SA’s men’s cricket team as a national team, representing our non-racial, democratic SA. But white players and coaches and managers, and agents are intent on dividing representation as ‘white being the best and merit’ and ‘blacks being forced into section as quota players’.

It’s a fact that black people didn’t not get a chance to play international sport; this because of apartheid. But black people played sports and achieved very high standards, despite their under-resourced sports communities. It’s a fact that black people played sport for freedom from apartheid and for South Africa to play legitimate international sport. White people not only collaborated with and supported apartheid sport; they also broke the international sports boycott. The fact that white people got ‘some taste of international sport’, albeit illegitimately doesn’t make you white person a sports mastermind and black sportspeople ill-informed.

Whites are very quick to talk out about their white representation being done in and being  discarded, yet these very same white voices like Pat Symcox, Kepler Wessels, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, Graham Smith and that ageing oligarch of apartheid cricket, Barry Richards, never talk about the raw deal given to black African players in SA cricket. These very same representatives and icons of white sport privilege and white control never challenge the colour imbalances and inequalities in SA cricket.

Seemingly, white people in SA cricket are seeing that international cricket representation and selection is no longer the preserve of white men. They are also seeing that, with opportunities being given to all players, white players are not perceived or viewed as the only players worthy of international selection. And this is biting at the mentality of white people; especially those whites who see themselves as superior and privileged.

This white lens mentality impacts negatively on white children and youth participating in sport who begin to develop the idea they are playing on merit performance and players of other colours are there as quotas. White youth are learning this negative parlance form older and ageing mindsets which are out of date with a changing South African society which is moving away from white privilege and control in sport.

White people refuse to accept the truth about their privileged secure position in society under apartheid. Young whites growing up into adults still want to take on this perspective they are superior; this is evident in cricket. If you claim not to be racist or talking for white privilege and control, then why don’t we hear you calling out the exclusion of black African cricketers?

We aware that white cricketers commend the performance of black cricketers; this is done when they have no alternative but to applaud black cricketing abilities of the likes of Makhaya Ntini, Hashim Amla, JP Duminy and others. This insistence on promoting white privilege and control divides the South African national. We begin to question the white privilege views and opinions of white people in sport; we ask why don’t you talk about non-racialism in sport, why don’t you acknowledge the expertise of black cricket coaches and managers?

Did you know that the world’s best black people in sport have over the decades, demonstrated against racism, skin colour privilege and racial discrimination in sport? When he became Olympic boxing champion, Muhammad Ali, won the title and gold medal. Ali threw away his Olympic gold medal, into a river. This was done to protest racial discrimination in the USA. I ask white people in sport what are they to call out exclusion of people in sport because of skin colour and class position.  Get this, white people! You just can’t have it your way in SA sport anymore because sport in SA society is not the preserve of white players, coaches and officials; sport in SA is for South Africans of all colours.

White people are clearly intent on protecting white cricketers. The opinions about SA’s wc semifinal defeat against unbeaten New Zealand continue to be placed on a black cricketer’s selection. White cricketers insist on referring to black cricketers as quota players, which in their white lens means ‘inferior player’. Why do white cricketers fight so vehemently for their white skin badge yet represent a team that doesn’t have a black African cricketer? And why do SA’s black cricket officials keep quiet when black cricketers are being called quota players and being blamed for defeat whilst poorly performing white cricketers are not scrutinized. (I know the cricket World Cup happened a while ago, but these white racist, white supremacy opinions are still dominating and I must respond)