The N3 highway in Durban is currently being blocked by artists who demand that performance spaces be opened up, as every other aspect of the economy has been allowed to continue working, as the Covid-19 lockdown regulations are eased further.
Artists have banded together to put pressure on the government by demanding they open clubs and similar areas, with an allowance of 70% capacity.
The movement is being spearheaded by a founding father of the Durban House scene, L’vovo Derrango, who expressed his concerns around the situation they are facing.
“What we’re doing is that we want the president to allow 70% capacity at night clubs and places we perform. We have been patiently waiting and yet our issues are left for last. That has to stop today,” said L’vovo.
Lockdown level 2 does not mean the novel Covid-19 coronavirus has left us. But L’vovo said they would ensure the safety of patrons.
“Look, we know all the precautions now and we are ready to have those in place; masks, hand sanitisers. Everyone else has opened, so now it’s our turn.”
He did not touch on how social distancing might be put in place, but before he could respond, Mzi “Danger” Tshomela of Big Nuz fame jumped on the bandwagon to share his views about the peaceful protest and the circumstances he has faced as a result of the pandemic.
Danger said: “We’re bored of being at home. It has hit us hard and when they [government] talk, the president and them, we never hear our cause being addressed. All the money they gave out: some of us got it, others didn’t. We need an explanation as to how that R100 million was used and where it went.
“There are a lot of us out here today and it has been tough for us. We’re even scared to take pictures because we’re so skinny and starving.”
The kwaito veteran passed the phone to comedian Justice Kubheka who echoed his colleagues’ concerns. “It’s a very tough situation we’re facing. I have kids that I can’t feed because our government isn’t looking out for us. The criteria to be able to get access to the artist grant seems to change in terms of getting this money.
“Just open for us, 70%, and then the people will decide if they want to come. Government does not even talk to us. The help has been minimal so now we are here crowding.”
They are not alone, with the likes of DJ Shimza and DJ Tira joining the protest.
Their attempt at getting the president’s attention has seen this protest trend at number two under the hashtag #VulaPresidentGovernment is yet to respond but, in the interim, we suggest avoiding the highway.
A source on the ground told us that, after the tear gas smoke subsided and the effects of the stun grenades had worn off, a few popular artists were then taken into custody.
Dear Mr @CyrilRamaphosa you seem not to care about the arts ?? industry! We have not been catered for during this lockdown! If guns and teargas is the only way you handle our hunger than so be it! We are tired of being ostracized. Please open the country! #VulaPresident pic.twitter.com/95XQDUAGnk— Jackie Phamotse (@JackiePhamotse) September 2, 2020