DocDo and the Deputies is part 2 in the series of DocDo books for children aimed at educating them about COVID-19 and how to cope during lockdown by keeping healthy, exercising their brains and showing gratitude. It encourages them to explore the possibility of them developing their own healthy routines and interactions.
I wrote several iterations of this “blog” starting with my Father, Clarence Reginald Gelderbloem, who used his life to impact young peoples’ lives and who was passionate about art, to
Amos Langdown who trained my dad in art at Dower Training College in Port Elizabeth. In my first draft I also included Daniel Rozin who crosses borders between art, engineering and coding by constructing mirrors out of almost any material. He displays the art to reflect the shape of the object placed in front of it. Through his work he shows how people can ‘cross proverbial borders’ in terms of their own skills.
Two factors shifted the direction of my blog. First I saw a quote by Amos Langdown which reads“As I dip my brush into paint, I dip it into my soul and he who cannot appreciate this, does not have a soul.” The second was AfrA’s Ground ZEROCultureCLUB’s First Thursday exhibition on 6 February 2020. It was then that I realized the true message of what I wanted to bring across in this blog.
I realized that in contemporary South Africa there is so much more to say and that I really wanted to ensure that we see the people behind the art work. Don’t get me wrong. I find it fascinating that today’s artists are engineers, innovators and so much more. For this piece however I hope we recognize the human factor behind the artists. Coincidentally the GroundZEROCultureCLUB’s exhibition on 6 February 2020 was called, “More than just Artists”.
GroundZEROCultureCLUB is a platform AfrA uses to showcase the work of talented young and emerging artists mostly from previously disadvantaged communities and broader Africa.
Emerging artists, particularly those from previously disadvantaged communities in Cape Town South Africa, are not easily gaining access to mainstream galleries and it is with this in mind that GroundZEROCultureCLUB was established. The majority of artists exhibiting with GroundZEROCultureCLUB come from black communities (Coloured, Xhosa, Zulu, etc.) but not all are South African. Many of these artists are self-taught and they come from various backgrounds. They are security guards who have no physical space to paint. They are IT specialists with a passion for art. They are young business owners eking out a living to sustain their passion.
Like entrepreneurs they have decided to follow a path that is often seen by others as high risk, not income generating, not a real job. Yet the combination of life skills and knowledge about art allows them to tell, and bring to life, many stories. As they dip their brushes they bare their souls.
We see the end product and we marvel at what they have produced but do we engage with them to understand where, particularly where emerging artists come from, and who they are. They are creators, they are bread winners, they are story tellers and expressionists unfolding their mix of acquired skills like a tapestry. Next time you visit an Art exhibition make a point to engage with the Artist. They are truly more than just artists.
Adolescents aged 10-19 years old constitute almost 20% of the South African population (STATS SA 2019). In 2016 71 births per 1000 women were amongst girls aged 15-19 years (South Africa Demographic of Health Survey). Childbearing in adolescence is widely known to impede schooling as 48.5% of adolescent mothers are to not be attending schools.
We, at AfrA Foundation, together with some bright young women have started discussing and brainstorming how we would address the pressing issue of teenage pregnancy in schools. The aim was to discuss a project called Healing Hearts/TeenSafe aimed at engaging young girls from Grade 6 upwards.
When taking into consideration our project and the statistics we however realized that there was one important component that still needed to be addressed, and that is boys/men. The main conclusion from our conversation is that the teenage pregnancy challenge is laid almost squarely at the feet of girls/women, they are the ones impacted the most (i.e. lost education, responsible for taking care of the child, etc.) but boys/men seem to evade engagement and responsibility. It is interesting to note that in 2018 981000 births were recorded in South Africa and 61% did not record a father’s name on their birth certificate.
The reality we are faced with is unless we include boys/men in our conversation and unpack the issues that lead to teenage pregnancy and other relevant issues, we will not overcome this challenge. The issue of girls vs. boys opens several other challenges that promote our patriarchal environment and essentially inequality. This further highlights the notion that you cannot engage girls/women without engaging boys/men to achieve a common goal.
Our project UNLEARN “BOYZ CODE” will therefore run in parallel with Healing Hearts/TeenSafe and engage boys from Grade 6 upwards.
What we know is that with boys/men there is this unwritten almost unspoken “Boyz Code” that promotes a stereotypic male character. The stereotypic male character is one where bad behavior is encouraged, boys/men adopt a hardline approach to women and other men, where emotions must be kept in check through promoting the “stiff upper lip” approach, violence against each other and girls/women is acceptable and self-esteem relies on your ability to express power. It is this very “boys code” that is passed down from generation to generation and promotes the “act tough” and “don’t show your feelings” attitude that is purely born out of the notion that boys/men must be the “sturdy oaks”.
AfrA Foundation’s vision is to engage, develop and educate young people for a better future and if we want to truly create a better future we have to promote equality and we believe unlearning the “Boyz Code” to develop boys that end up being real men who can honor, respect and fully engage each other and girls/women is one of the very important challenges we must take up.
One of the chapters in the book called Wild at Heart by John Eldredge has a piece by Daniel Taylor that reads,: “Freedom is useless if we don’t exercise it as characters making choices… Few things are as encouraging as the realization that things can be different and that we have a role in making them so.”
We believe that UNLEARN “BOYZ CODE” could possibly contribute towards mitigating the teenage pregnancy challenges in schools, as well as to help develop boys into men of honour, respect and fully engage each other and girls/women.
NEW! Student 100 is an exciting opportunity for you to become a change maker. Through committing to give R100 per month you become a partner in helping deserving students selected by AfrA. We started this initiative in June 2018 and have supported 3 students since then. Each student selected another deserving student and paid forward 10% of what they received towards their studies.
June student’s feedback:“Being a student who does not have a bursary and parents who are
paying my studies, I was grateful for the student100 initiative. Apart from my parents paying for my studies, textbooks, stationary and printing of assignments costs extra money, therefor the money received by student100 helped me pay for necessities such as assignment printing and purchasing a relevant textbook. It was a great help.
Paying 10% of the money to a fellow deserving student was a good idea as well as no matter how little the money, a student is always in need.” July student’s feedback: “I was extremely honoured to be one of the recipients of the student100 initiative. Thank you for the support as it helped me to purchase a textbook that I will carry with me for the rest of my career, which I could not afford previously. This initiative inspires me to contribute in the same way when I’m done with my studies and have obtained my degree. I thank you again for your confidence and willingness in providing me with a stepping stone to help me achieve my academic goals.
The 10% recipient is a fellow social work student. She lives in Ocean View and travels to the University of the Western Cape everyday with public transport, which is extremely costly. I chose her, to lessen her transport costs and she appreciated the opportunity dearly.”
How can you help? Join this philanthropic initiative as a partner. To partner you commit to giving a minimum of R100 or multiples of R100 for 12 months. Through this we can reach 12 students per year. Our aim is to have 100 partners for 12 students. Your contribution can be paid into the AfrA account either as a monthly payment or a once off lump sum payment with the reference STUDENT 100. We ask that you contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
Our account details are below:
Account Name: AfrA Foundation NPC
Bank Name: Nedbank Limited
Branch Name: Constantia Cape Town
Branch Code: 101109
BIC Code (Swift): NEDSZAJJ
Account no.: 1145211631
Account Type: Current