Greetings to my fellow Africans and creative enthusiasts! It brings me so much joy to share the story of an event that is very close to my heart, "The Creatives Huddle Seminar," hosted in Itsoseng on a crisp October Friday, put together by the TAPP team. I must admit that my heart starts palpitating out of pride and joy when I think of the impact this event could have on our vibrant community. You see, this event wasn't just another seminar; for me, it was the culmination of a dream inspired by my thesis titled an ethnography of young creatives in Itsoseng township: Exploring ways the young creatives recreate the spaces they inhabit through symbolic practices and the relationship between creative arts and non-standard employment in post-apartheid South Africa, which is an attempt to shine a light on the challenges faced by young creatives in our beloved township. This thesis has earned me a master’s degree in social anthropology at North-West University.
A Dream Inspired by a Thesis:
As a research enthusiast with a focus on worldmaking in marginalized spaces, I was invited as the keynote speaker at "The Creatives Huddle Seminar," and I couldn't help but reflect on my journey that led to this moment – my academic venture. Through my ethnographic research which revealed the immense challenges the young creatives in Itsoseng are faced with on daily basis, my thesis delved into the lives of these creatives to bring about understanding on themes of non-standard employment through the notion of Go phanda/Go gereza. These talented individuals have dreams, but a lack of knowledge, limited access to resources, and scarcity of opportunities locally continue to hold many of them back. The seminar aimed to address these challenges; a reflection of the culture capital discussed in my thesis.
Empowering the Creatives of Itsoseng, Ditsobotla, and Beyond:
The heart of the seminar lay in empowerment, in nurturing the dreams of our young and old creatives. One of the things I take pride in about my home province is that it is a place teeming with talent, from budding filmmakers, authors, and dancers to painters and musicians. But their dreams often remain unfulfilled due to a lack of information and resources, and the absence of a vibrant industry for them to participate in within the province. The seminar, hosted by the tenacious TAPP team, was designed with the primary objective to fill this void, a mission grounded in my thesis's insights about the transformative power of education and resources. One could ask: “what’s the hustle without a plan filled with relevant knowledge and resources”? However, understanding hope in relation to the idea of Go phanda/Go gereza is a pivotal aspect that should be paired with education and resources.
Unveiling the Reservoir of Knowledge:
Our primary mission was to share knowledge and information that often remains hidden from the very individuals who need it the most. The seminar covered a range of topics, from funding for small businesses to compliance requirements and copyright intricacies, to mention a few. It was a journey into the world of creative arts, culture, entertainment, and media – a reflection of the realistic and harsh truth when coming to recreating the world of creative arts in the modern day. The cornerstone for unveiling the reservoir of knowledge, for me, was the discussions about creating businesses which will be one’s option to fall back on if all does not go according to plan within their craft.
Learning from Bright Stars:
As a keynote speaker, I had the privilege of addressing the attendees, sharing my insights and experiences. However, the real stars of the event included the young creatives such as Mr Malunga who was the MC alongside Otshepeng Matlaba; Thato Sbk, who was a speaker at the event – he also formed part of my research and can be seen on a video I published on YouTube. We were fortunate to have a distinguished speaker and actor, Fumani N. Shilubana, who went into extreme details about how he navigates certain spaces in the film industry and how he leverages his talent to grow his businesses. The room came alive when a local traditional dance group gave us all a beautiful performance. It was a reminder that even though Itsoseng has been experiencing water issues roughly two decades, we still have a limitless reservoir of creativity that resides within our immediate community and beyond.
Q & A stations:
The seminar was not only theory-based; it was about getting your questions answered by experts on the spot. We had organizations such as NVFV; Mmabana Arts, Culture and Sports Foundation; NAC; NYDA; Lesego M Consulting etc. at our interactive Q&A stations. Participants had direct access, not only to these organizations, but to local creatives of all ages as well. For instance, artists learned how to scout for opportunities on various online platforms, got facts about funding rounds, and much more.
Networking sessions were an integral part of the seminar. Attendees had the chance to connect with industry professionals, mentors, and fellow creatives. These connections arguably have the potential to reshape their futures and foster collaborations that might have been distant dreams otherwise – embodying the kinship and friendship values explored in my thesis. As testament to this, the local community radio station broadcasted their Friday show at the venue, with the organisations, speakers, organising members, the dance group, etc. as their guests!
A Beacon of Hope:
In Itsoseng, where challenges often loom large, "The Creatives Huddle Seminar" was a beacon of hope. It was a platform that celebrated local talent and offered a path to a brighter future. The event represented the essence of community-driven initiatives aimed at uplifting and empowering our young and old, addressing the themes of hope, resilience, and youth's role in shaping our future, as highlighted in my thesis.
Criticism and Compliments:
I don’t want to create a false impression that "The Creatives Huddle Seminar" was a resounding success on all fronts. To some degree, you could call this ‘self-criticism’, because I, too, see myself as part of the TAPP team. Some mistakes by the organising team were glaring while others were delicate. There’s a lot of room for improvement, especially as it relates to the number of people who attended the seminar, punctuality and sticking to the scheduled time, and basics like catering. It is unavoidable to mention that half of the auditorium was empty, the program started late, and guests had to wait for extended periods to simply quench their thirst. Yes, the seminar is a testament to the power of community, collaboration, and the unshakable spirit of creativity that defines Itsoseng, but I am certain that it would be an even better event if the organizing team gets these basics right the next time. Other things like audio feed on the live stream and batteries running out of power are understandable because the day’s program took longer than planned, reflecting the challenges and resilience of young creatives in Itsoseng, highlighted in my thesis.
Overall, I can conclude with a Setswana proverb stating that “‘fifing go tshwaranwa ka dikobo”, as at 2:35 am when my bus arrived in Klerksdorp after a 5-hour drive, two of the team members were there to pick me up. We drove to Itsoseng and arrived around 6:00 am after some challenges on the road, and at 7:30, they were at the church making final preparations despite all the hurdles we came across. I can hold my head high because the primary objective of “The Creatives Huddle Seminar” is to empower and provide opportunities for talented individuals from anywhere to overcome adversity and turn their dreams into reality. I couldn't be prouder of what we achieved, and I look forward to seeing the artistic transformation that will undoubtedly ripple through and beyond our beloved township in the years to come. I am more convinced than before that a small group of people with a focus on positivity and changing the world for the better can make a real difference and nurture creative dreams and make them flourish.
Yours in creativity,