South Africa - Voicing Hidden Histories

The South Africa strand of Voicing Hidden Histories built on work initiated by a previous small arts and filmmaking project called 'Changing the Story', with the aim of empowering South African youths to represent, through film, the dominant narratives of their communities as a means of generating awareness and supporting change.

As part of the Voicing Hidden Histories project, Prof. Paul Cooke and Daniela Wegrostek from University of Leeds worked with the Bishop Simeon Trust and members of Themba Interactive to work with underprivileged and vulnerable youths that are supported by various Community-Based Organisations in South Africa called 'Safe Parks'. These Safe Parks are supported by the Bishop Simeon Trust and Themba Interactive. Through this partnership the team sought to help the young people create stories and films that generated awareness about specific issues in their communities as a means of providing a tool for advocacy, hoping to empower the youths to promote change in their own communities.

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This is the final film that summarises the project which was screened as part of Leeds International Film Festival in November 2017.

Find out more about the project's beginnings, and the work that Bishop Simeon Trust and Themba Interactive do in the Yarn page below.

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Each sub-project in the Safe Parks began with a storytelling workshop which used the methodology created by Grassroots Comics (www.grassrootscomics.net) to support the group to explore topics that were relevant to them and start to create a fictional narrative around them.

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Then the team worked with the groups in the different Safe Parks to each create short fictional films based on the issues they had identified. Every person in the group had a role, whether in front of or behind the camera.

You can find out more about the work carried out in the different Safe Parks via the Yarn pages below.

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Six weeks into the project, the participants were invited to a Human Rights Workshop at Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre (JHGC). This was part of a wider leadership programme which had emerged alongside the filmmaking project. Each Safe Park formed a Youth Committee, with two Youth Leaders per Safe Park. The election of the Youth Leaders was done through a voting system, whereby one boy and one girl had to be elected and individuals could not vote for themselves. These Youth Committees, headed by their leaders, will now become the voice of their own generation within their Community-Based-Organisation.

Find out more about how the workshop at JHGC impacted on the youths in the Yarn page below.

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Once the films were made, the groups created and produced advocacy campaigns for the materials they created, including arranging wider cultural events, screenings and discussions which engaged both their peers and local policy makers.

The film by Bonisiwe Safe Park members (above) helped to convince the local Ward Councillor to donate new land to the Safe Park so that it could be further developed.

Find out more about the outcomes and impact of the advocacy campaigns in the Yarn below.

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The group held a full project evaluation to get feedback from the participants and key stakeholder's on the project.

Check out the two yarn pages below to watch some of the interviews by participants and key stakeholders as they reflect on the project.

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