KZN schoolkids express human rights through art
Phansi Museum’s competition aims to foster awareness in youngsters
It took staff at Durban's Phansi Museum a couple of weeks to sort, group and hang the hundreds of original artworks submitted by children to the repository.
The art reflecting South Africa's human rights was created by Grade 7 school children from across KwaZulu-Natal.
Covering one of the walls are dozens of pictures of people standing in long queues waiting to vote. Some show the SA flag in the background, others take place under a blue sky, while a couple show voting booths. On a wall opposite, language rights are translated into vivid statements. The schoolchildren used a wide range of materials, from cardboard to newsprint to recycled photocopy paper, to make their point.
It's appropriate that a museum housing one of the largest collections of traditional arts, crafts and artifacts in South Africa should be running a human rights art competition for pupils.
Phansi's director, Sharon Crampton, says the idea for the competition stemmed from Phansi's traditional 2017 calendar.
"This is the 22nd year we have produced a calendar. This year it featured the murals on the walls of Durban's old prison, which reflected issues covered by our Bill of Rights."
One of Phansi's trustees, architect Paul Mikula, thought the calendar could be taken further and suggested a school competition relating to the calendar's content.
Phansi staff members, three field officers and the Albert Luthuli Museum distributed thousands of the calendars and entry forms to public schools in KwaZulu-Natal and Phansi staff made contact with 443 schools.
Education and outreach officer Lindiwe Ndiki wasn't convinced that the project would come to fruition.
"We went to hundreds of schools, and then we would return and some hadn't done a thing, so I was amazed at how big the final response was."
Hundreds of submissions were received from more than 80 schools, many from KZN's deep rural areas.
"We have reached kids who have never been exposed to human rights," said Ndiki, "In this way we are getting children to speak about things, and to become aware of a range of issues."
Participants in the art section of the competition had to be in Grade 7, artworks had to be A3 size, only one entry per participant was accepted, and teachers were supplied with a resource book, Durban Human Rights Wall, which contained explanations in English and Zulu of the 30 clauses of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Seven winning artworks will be selected and each winner will receive R2,500.
Crampton says that Phansi is a place where pupils can come and experience their culture.
"Phansi has always emphasised the need for children, especially those from rural areas, to learn to appreciate traditional art and craft forms, and to leave feeling good about themselves."
The entries are currently on display and members of the public can vote for their favourite artwork. These votes will be taken into account by the panel of judges when they make their decision.
• The winners will be announced on Saturday morning, July 29.
• Phansi Museum, 500 Esther Roberts Road
• This article was originally published in The Times.