‘Arts for Change’ seeks to combat stereotypes

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Many people see graffi ti in rap videos and gang documentaries, and this contributes to the negative stereotypes associated with this art that comes from a can. Today’s creatives are becoming the catalyst for global innovation and this cultural shift gives impetus to new ways of thinking and doing things. ‘Arts for Change’ is a local initiative by two Batswana youth, Khwezi Mphatlalatsane and Laone Matlapeng programmed to run from March 25-May 3 this year.


“The concept for this initiative was born last year after the Rhythm, Art and Poetry event at the Alliance Francaise where we held discussions with cultural coordinator, Hanna Rochetaing and director Antoine Courroy about taking this street art or graffi ti beyond the Alliance walls and collaborate with international artists. “We wanted to break the stereotypes associated with graffi ti and demonstrate that it can also be a medium for positive expression about issues that affect our community and society,” said Khwezi.


The initiative also seeks to utilise street art as a medium for spreading awareness about pressing social issues, including HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence and substance abuse as well as empowering the youth by imparting artistic skills through music, art and literature workshops. It will coincide with three street artists from Reunion Island (French Department in the Indian Ocean), Jace, Kid Kreol and Boogie collaborating with local artists Saone Batsile, Okoth Obado and Khwezi Mphatlalatsane who will be painting the community landmarks of Old Naledi, which is one the neglected areas in Gaborone. Speaking to Time Out, Khwezi said they chose Old Naledi as the location for the initiative because of its historical significance to Gaborone and they believe the place has been unfairly neglected and misrepresented.


“We would be using street art to spread positive messages about society and community on eight tuck shops that span all three wards of Old Naledi as well as painting the walls of a local day care centre for underprivileged children called Tsholofelong Project. Jace will be in Gaborone from the 27th of March until the 29th focusing on painting the tuck shops while Kid Kreol and Boogie would be visiting from 15th till 26th of April and will be focusing on fi nishing the remaining tuckshops as well as the Tsholofelong walls,”he added.


Concurrently workshops will be hosted for Old Naledi children aged between 12 and 16 at the Tsholofelong Project from April 1st until the 11th. There will be three workshops in the fi eld of visual arts, music and writing and the facilitators for these workshops are Manu Lal Manjesh and Ngozi Chukura for visual arts, Mandisa Mabuthoe, Poem the Ansa and Dr Omorege for writing and Roy Nyathi andMr Sibanda for music.


The workshop will be focusing on teaching the youth artistic skills to improve their livelihoods and spread messages of positivity.“This project is the beginning of what we hope will be a long-term campaign for the arts as a legitimate means for socioeconomic empowerment for both the artists involved and the community at large,” said Khwezi.


The initiative is in conjunction with the Alliance Francaise Gaborone, The Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture, Dulux Paints Botswana, Botswana Society for the Arts, The French Ministry of Culture, Region Reunion, France Volontaires, the European Union (EU) and the Botswana Council of Churches (BCC).