Keleketla! is a Pedi word which is a response to the beginning of a story, something that you say back to the storyteller’s ‘once upon a time’. It has no direct English translation, but represents a form of acknowledgement and a consent that ‘I am here, willing to listen to your story with active participation’.
The Keleketla! initative is a collection of projects that share a concern with the creation of stories through a variety of modes and media, based on a dynamic and fluid interaction between audience and story-teller – through the spoken word, music, artmaking, film, performance, writing, reading and so on. Located at the Drill Hall, a redeveloped heritage site in the Joubert Park area of the inner city, the projects involve the active participation of local people and a range of age groups.
The project originally developed out of the idea of a library that would serve as a home for a variety of creative activities. The project has now grown to include a variety of elements:
- The original library project
- Daily creative workshops for children and young people living in the Joubert Park area
- Monthly Art Days at the Drill Hall
- Weekly open-air film screenings
- Monthly workshops/seminars aimed at young creatives working in the inner city
The project was born out of a collaboration between Bettina Malcolmess, a Cape Town based writer, academic and artist, and artist Rangoato Hlasane, with the innacitycommunity collective. Facilitated by the Joubert Park Project – a collective of artists that have a project space at the Drill Hall – the genesis of the project was made possible through a grant from the National Arts Council. The project partners are now exploring ways for the project to be turned into an ongoing and sustainable initiative.
The Inner City Context
The projects have established a unique space in a part of the inner city that has achieved a certain notoriety in the public imagination – a fraught and complex environment that has one of the largest taxi ranks in the region and which has become the point of entry into Johannesburg (and South Africa) for immigrants form the rest of Africa – as well as the influx of economic migrants from the rest of the country. Beset by a variety of problems – high levels of poverty, both organized and petty crime, building invasions and xenophobia – the area is also home to an amazing diversity of experience, culture and social life. The Keleketla projects have sought to harness and work with this extraordinary richness in seeking to make a contribution to turning the Joubert Park area into a liveable neighbourhood.