Marlene le Roux honoured with Maxeke award
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Theatre-maker and human rights activist Marlene le Roux says she’s humbled to be one of the recipients of the prestigious “Bring Her Up: Women Of Firsts Awards".
The awards ceremony will take place this Friday, August 27 at the Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel, in Sandton.
This year South Africa is commemorating 150 years of Charlotte Makgomo (née Mannya) Maxeke’s birth, recognising her as an inspiration, trailblazer and a force to reckon with.
This initiative echoes Mme Maxeke’s words, when she said, “this work is not for yourselves, kill that spirit of self and do not live above your people but live with them and if you can rise, bring someone with you”.
Le Roux, who is the first woman of colour to become the chief executive of Artscape, will be honoured for her lifelong advocacy for the rights of persons with disabilities and the youth, and her immense contribution to the arts sector.
“This award is being given to me as we move towards the end of Women’s Month. It is an award celebrating one of South Africa’s foremost struggle and freedom woman fighting icons. To be mentioned as an awardee of the Charlotte Maxeke really humbled me. This is an icon who stood for humanity and dedicated her life to better the lives of others.
“As a woman with a disability who comes from a rural town of Wellington and a woman of colour raised by a single parent, I can only try to uphold her values and do more.
“I was very surprised as I never thought I will be getting such an accolade in my lifetime,” says Le Roux.
“I’m accepting this to highlight the challenges of women, children and persons with disabilities.”
Le Roux adds that South Africans all need to uphold Maxeke’s values which are “synonymous with equal quality education and economic empowerment and active social justice” for women.
Le Roux expressed her dismay at the “high level of shocking gender-based violence in the country”, where women are murdered nearly every day.
“The courts have failed women. For example, to get an interdict against your perpetrator you need to fill in a document of 157 pages.
“Most women don’t even report rape cases, the way they are treated at the police station.
“We are still incarcerated by a patriarchal system and bureaucratic systems.
“We have a gender commission that is failing to protect women and the LGBTQ+ community.
“Hate crime is committed regularly.
“The churches, traditional leaders, should relook how their practices supporting vulnerable groups like persons with disabilities and women.
“We need to start to have uncomfortable conversations about cultural practices that are empowering women.”
The theatre space has been under a lot of strain even before the pandemic, Le Roux said: “I think that we’ve seen abroad on all continents where countries are returning to normal that the theatre and entertaining public have embraced attending productions and events, some to full-house capacity.
"I am positive that we will return to these positive scenes as well.
“However, we have also seen that at times patrons enjoy productions online in the comfort of their homes, so going forward, some productions could be in hybrid form depending on which producer’s production it is.
“But I am positive that we will see a return to theatre as it was pre-Covid.”
Le Roux will share the stage with an array of prominent women of South Africa from leadership, agriculture, business, social impact, community-building and sport categories.