The three-day Umtiza Arts Festival kicked off on a high note on Friday at various venues in East London with a jam-packed programme suitable for young and old.
The East London Museum, Ann Bryant Gallery and East London Guild Theatre played host to exhibitions, children’s theatre and music shows among others.
Speaking to the GO! on Friday, the Soweto String Quartet (SSQ) said the festival was strategic when it came to the development of the youth of the Eastern Cape.
“This opportunity in the past hasn’t been available and this is tapping into a new space. The local government should commit themselves and support the arts and music,” SSQ musical director Sandile Khemese said.
Breaking barriers and bringing cultures together are some of the aims of the quartet.
“Music humanises a person, it can also help towards combating crime and is also good for those with a mathematical mind,” one of the members, Makhosini Mnguni, said.
With its most appropriate slogan: “No to violence, yes to violins”, the SSQ believe music can make a positive difference. SSQ included some new songs in their repertoire such as Bach Goes To The Pub, a medley entitled The Graceland Collection and some classics like the ever popular Imbube.
The quartet also took time out to host a workshop at the Eastern Cape Audio Visual Centre for the youth on Saturday. SSQ aimed to highlight that there was a career in music.
Saturday saw a variety of activities taking place, such as a craft liquor festival, theatre productions and a dialogue.
Speaking at the “Toward the Creative, Smart City” dialogue, Prof Chris Adendorff, who sits on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Commission, said the country had been identified as fifth in the world to pioneer the 4IR.
“Arts, culture and heritage are important when when we build our smart cities, as they are about people. Business models will also change as the younger generation interacts with new technology,” Adendorff said.
Brendon Thompson of Thompson Trading said the company had gone digital and that there was a need to unlock our minds to be “solution engineers”.
The Keiskamma Tapestry Exhibition, standing at 7.8mx 3.5m in size, depicts the painful struggle of the rural communities dealing with HIV-Aids, grief and helplessness, while creating awareness. Nomakhaya Dada said she was part of the project from 2002, and it was something quite “painful” to get involved in, into as many had died before receiving treatment.
The tapestry is based upon Picasso’s Guernica of 1937, which depicted the devastation of a small town during the Spanish Civil War. It also bears the same dimensions as Picasso’s original.
The exhibition included three panels depicting the IsiXhosa initiation (ulwaluko) phases.