CAPE TOWN - At the unveiling of a mural in honour of assassinated anti-apartheid activist and teacher Dulcie September, the provincial Education Department announced its commitment to ensure that her fight for liberation and justice was not in vain.
The mural was unveiled by September’s niece and nephew, Nicola and Michael Arendse, and adorns the Dulcie September Civic Centre in Athlone. The work aims to celebrate the life of the ANC activist who was murdered in Paris on March 29, 1988 after she was exiled from South Africa.
The mural, commissioned by Enver Samuel, director of the award-winning and much-acclaimed documentary Murder in Paris, is one of the pillars of a unique impact campaign telling the story of September as an unsung activist and hero of the Struggle against apartheid.
Samuel approached Cape Town-based arts organisation Baz-Art, which specialises in street art, for assistance. They recommended and commissioned one of South Africa’s best and prolific street artists, Dbongz Mahlathi, to carry out the work.
Mahlathi did extensive research to get a sense of who Dulcie was, and using spray paint, worked off a photograph of her, completing the moving commission in two days.
Keynote speaker and provincial Education Department director for curriculum development, Karen Dudley, said a partnership and memorandum of agreement has been signed with Samuel.
“We are committed to ensure that this impact campaign and that the screening of the Dulcie September is streamed at all 1586 schools in the province in the WCED (Western Cape Education Department). We started this pilot during lockdown.”
She shared that September had been a family friend and said the activist played a “pivotal part” in her life and had inspired her to study teaching.
“September believed that education was a vehicle and a tool to bring about democracy. She wasn’t just a teacher who taught content and had learners regurgitate information, but she provided teachers and learners with the opportunity to have a platform to voice their opinions and put those opinions down into script. In today’s time that is known as critical thinking and reasoning, and that’s what she did in 1955 already,” said Dudley.
“This is an attempt at un-erasing her name in history and to put her in the public discourse once again and to honour her in Athlone where she fought so many battles for our liberation,” said Dudley.
Samuel said to a certain extent Dulcie’s legacy had been erased, and the reason for her murder had never been uncovered.
“And it is our hope through the documentary and various impact activations like this that we can counteract that erasure, and finally gain recognition for her valuable contribution to her struggle against apartheid.”
Ward councillor Rashid Adams said it was his dream since he came into office in 2016 to work on the recognition for September.
“We have this iconic name attached to this building but we have absolutely nothing displaying the wonder of this woman. It is our duty, irrespective of the parties that we represent, that the history of our community is shared and the history and stories of our people are being told,” said Adams.
For information about the documentary and more, visit: https://murderinparis.com/home