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Artfluence festival goes live at Nelson Mandela Capture site

The film If This be Treason by Cedric Sundstorn is a remarkable tribute to political activist and human rights defender Helen Joseph.

The film If This be Treason by Cedric Sundstorn is a remarkable tribute to political activist and human rights defender Helen Joseph.

Published Apr 30, 2022

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Durban - The Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), in partnership with the uMngeni Municipality and uMngeni Tourism, will present the second annual Artfluence Human Rights Festival will be held at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Howick from May 3-8.

South African film-maker Cedric Sundstorm will be present and will participate in a post-screening discussion.

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His film If This be Treason, a tribute to political activist and human rights defender Helen Joseph, will have a once-off screening. It’s a tale of passionate and deep resistance to oppression.

Joseph’s inspiration was unswervingly spiritual and inspired by the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German cleric who died in a Nazi concentration camp.

The film coincides with the 20th anniversary of Helen Joseph’s death.

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At the unveiling of Joseph’s tombstone in 1996, Nelson Mandela shared heartfelt words.

“I will always remember her for the period we spent together during the Treason Trial. We were among the 28 accused who remained in the dock until the end of the trial, as our numbers shrank, we all became more attached to one another and grew to know each other very intimately,” said Mandela.

He said he met with Joseph after his release.

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“After my release I made it a point to visit my dear old friend and comrade. Physically she was old and frail, the popular fiery voice was gone, but the strong-willed Helen was still complete and undaunted.

“We talked about the good old days, laughed over our mistakes and tried to fill each other in on the three decades we had spent apart,” said Mandela.

He said when he left Joseph’s home, he felt stronger, younger and more determined to march the last mile to freedom.

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Veteran poet, author, journalist and community activist,Don Mattera with University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Dr Ismail Mah. Picture: supplied

Speaking on behalf of the Centre for Creative Arts at UKZN, director Ismail Mahomed said it was important South Africans to be united.

“At this time of political challenges in South Africa, which set the risk of this country once again becoming racially polarised, it is important for us all, irrespective of our political persuasions, to remember and be inspired by leaders like Helen Joseph whom Nelson Mandela held in such high esteem,” said Mohamed.

He said the 2nd annual Artfluence Human Rights Festival commemorates the 60th anniversary of the capture of Nelson Mandela and is presented under the theme “Freed Imaginations: Resilience, Action & Change”.

Popular political puppet Chester Missing will provide entertaining but biting commentary about South Africa’s democracy.

Film-maker, gender and gay rights activist Beverly Ditsie has been named the 2022 Artfluence Human Rights Champion. Picture: Tapes Photography.

Also featuring is film-maker, gender and gay rights activist Beverly Ditsie, who has has been named the 2022 Artfluence Human Rights Champion.

In 1995, Ditsie marked an iconic moment in UN history, when the UN for the first time addressed LGBTQI+ rights.

Ditsie delivered an impassioned address at the UN International Women’s conference in Beijing on the need to enshrine LQBTQI + rights inequality laws.

She said all human rights must be equal for all human beings.

“If the World Conference on women is to address the concerns of all women, it must similarly recognise that discrimination based on sexual orientation is a violation of basic human rights,” said Ditsie.

The Inaugural Artfluence Human Rights Lifetime Achievement award will be presented to veteran poet, author, journalist and community activist Don Mattera.

Growing up in Sophiatown and harassed by the security police for his political activism, Mattera was banned from 1973 to 1982. He spent three years under house arrest and helped form the Union of Black Journalists and the Congress of South African writers.

His book Memory is the Weapon is a living testament of his early years, which continue to inspire many.

The 2nd annual Artfluence Human Rights festival will be live and online. The full programme is available at artfluence.ukzn.ac.za.

The Independent on Saturday

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