By: Katleho Sekhotho
With the first Arts Report for 2021, it is important that we look back before we step forward. 2020 was an incredibly tumultuous year for so many of us, but despite the adversities, many stood tall.
Maybe you were one of the few who rose to the occasion or perhaps you were one of those who was stripped of people and things you held dear. Whatever it was for you, you’re here now, reading this article and that means so much more is possible for you.
In this week’s Arts Report, we take a look at some of our best stories of 2020.
Beginning with Dahlia Maubane. Dahlia is a photographer. Last year she carried out a project called ‘Meals on Wheels,’ which was focused on creating and curating care-packages for street hairstylists in the Joburg CBD.
Street hairstylists make their money solely from clients who choose to sit down in the open streets of the city to have their hair done.
During the hard lockdown, many of the hairstylists had to stop working indefinitely.
Dahlia tells of how many of the women were already back on the streets during Alert Level 3 of the lockdown but had to battle constantly trying to hide from Johannesburg Metro Police officers.
She also tells of how innovative the women have had to become as the number of clients willing to sit down and risk not adhering to the rule of social distancing have dwindled.
Many of the women have committed themselves to making wigs for clients. Wigs are currently in high demand. Wigs are generally more costly and don’t require face to face interactions, so it’s a win for both hairstylist and client.
Check out Dahlia’s latest exhibition, titled: On Seeing and Being Seen: multiple viewpoints of women street-hairstylists in the inner-city of JHB.
Our other featured artist is Retang Phaahla who is the co-founder of Setsong Tea, which is a brand of local handcrafted tea made from wild African flora.
Retang tells me of how the demand for the plant ‘mhlonyane’ has somewhat decreased since the peak of COVID 19 infections in South Africa.
She says her business is seeing a rise instead in the interest of other herbal teas which treat all sorts of ailments.
And last, but definitely not least, I spoke to Thabo Tserema. Thabo is a musician who was among 28 others who were stuck in Turkey following the announcement of the hard lockdown early last year.
Thabo tells of how they initially struggled to come back home and the sense of anxiety while trying to work with the Turkish and South African government to return to home soil.
He says it has been difficult to make an astute living as a freelancer since being back, but he remains hopeful that things will work out well for him and his peers in the industry.
I am simply amazed at Thabo’s incredible talent! Take a listen here to a performance he gave with a live band in Turkey