The state of arts and culture: John Kani to deliver OR Tambo Foundation Anniversary Lecture

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John Kani. Picture: Gallo Images/Oupa Bopape
John Kani. Picture: Gallo Images/Oupa Bopape


The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on lives and economies across the world, and in South Africa it has brought the arts and culture sector to its knees.

In June this year an SA Cultural Observatory study found the direct impact of the national lockdown on the total output of the cultural and creative sector to be a little more than R53 billion.

The study also found that the shutdown of the sector, which contributes an estimated 1.7% to the GDP, was expected to reduce South Africa’s GDP (direct and indirect impact) by R99.7 billion this year.

Kani has spent his illustrious career telling the stories of the voiceless and giving dignity to those that the system mercilessly sought to deny this basic human right.
OR Tambo Foundation

So how do we salvage the industry?

Theatre legend, award-winning actor, director, playwright and anti-apartheid activist John Kani is set to answer this question as he delivers the final lecture at the 10th anniversary of the OR Tambo Foundation.

Read: Tsitsi Dangarembga to deliver Oliver Tambo Memorial Lecture 

Kani, who was recently honoured with a Golden Elephant Lifetime Achievement Award, will unpack how Tambo effectively used arts and culture as a mechanism to liberate South Africa, and how we can use the same mechanism to overcome some of the systemic challenges we face today.

The foundation said: “Oliver Tambo understood this, and during his almost 30 years at the helm of the ANC [he] effectively used artists to bolster the global anti-apartheid movement in order to garner the support of millions.”

“Kani has spent his illustrious career telling the stories of the voiceless and giving dignity to those that the system mercilessly sought to deny this basic human right. It is important that South Africans take pause to ponder the role of arts and culture in promoting humanity, unity and social cohesion, and how it can be effectively supported in future to positively impact our individual and national growth.”

The lecture is set to take place on Monday, November 30 at 6pm.

Read: Mahmood Mamdani on equal citizen and 1994 transition

The first lecture, delivered by Ugandan professor Mahmood Mamdani, discussed the lessons of the South Africa of 1994, while the second, which took place on October 30, was delivered by professor Pumla Dineo Gqola and tackled patriarchal violence and the inadequacy of condemnations.


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