2019 sees the second edition of the Human Rights Festival at Constitution Hill. In order to uphold a culture of human rights, the Festival acts as a signature event at this historic site. This year the festival will coincide with the country’s celebration of 25 years of democracy and the 70th Year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In light of reaching this meaningful milestone the Festival reflects on our tormented past of the atrocities of apartheid and colonization. Looking at where we are and the need for us to come together and speak louder than ever before for the change we want to see.
The location acts as a symbol of human rights in itself due to the complex history that has unfolded here. A former military fort and women’s prison which once incarcerated Albertina Sisulu and Nelson Mandela, today stands as the Constitutional Court – the highest court of the Republic and a physical monument to South Africa’s journey to democracy. Oppression and liberation. Injustice and Justice. Constitution Hill points to the relevance of the preservation of historic sites such as this for future generations in order to further knowledge about our country’s troubled past as well as a site to fulfil current needs and to shape our collective future.
As a period characterised by intense social dialogue and political engagement a Social Forum will be set up at Constitution Hill as the central meeting point at the event for civil society organisations and individuals participating in the festival. This is done in order to promote social justice and democratization. The festival invites activists, artists, entrepreneurs, government representatives and creators to partake and collaborate as well as debate the pressing issues of human rights in our country.
Events of the festival include Activism Row, Book Fest, Children Have Rights, Film Fest, Makers Market, Music Fest, Performing Arts, Poetry, Public Forums and We The People Walk:
The Film Fest will screen a wide variety of films and documentaries that seek to afford a broader understanding of topics related to human rights such as Immigration, Asylum, Women’s Rights, War & Conflict, Mental Health, LGBT Rights, Workers Rights, Environmental Concerns, Healthcare, Austerity & Disability Issues. Films, events and panel discussions will disseminate the wider human, cultural and socio-political ramifications of violence and how this has been represented in film, historically and in its modern manifestations.
Poetry fest invites attendees to reflect on the difficulties society faces and inspires engagement as well as the liberation of the mind through spoken word. The floor is open to established poets as well as festival attendees. The book fair in turn acts as a platform for writers and emerging publishers to pivot and discuss shared issues. Aimed at promoting a broader writing culture it will include workshops as well as dialogues on documenting history as it happens. The role of activism is pertinent in this movement which recognises the importance of acknowledging violations of human rights.
Further the festival reminds us that children’s rights are human rights by including a children’s focus area. The next offering the festival boasts is that of the ‘We the People Walk’ which takes its name from the preamble to the South African Constitution celebrating our 25 Years of Democracy with the #WhatDoYouStandFor
Another element is that of the Art of Activism which is expressed via visual art and photographic exhibitions centred around issues of social justice. Transcending cultural barriers with thought-provoking narratives expressed through art these artists open up deeper conversations about the world we find ourselves in.
Saturday the 23 March will see Constitution Hill become a stage for the sound of music with the #STANDUP4HUMANRIGHTS music fest showcasing the talents of performers active in social justice causes. The show is open air and aims to share messages of inclusivity and activism in our communities and civil society. Performers of the event include: Sho Madjozi, Sjava, DJ Kenzhero, Msaki, BCUC, DJ Ready D, Samthing Soweto and Easy Freak.
The Human Rights Festival creates a space for inter-generational conversations. The festival hopes to establish an opportunity for the youth to open up conversation with other generations about the problems that they are currently facing. Speak your politics and your truth, speak to the problems your and our communities and our wider society are dealing with. In light of this it is important to note that this year’s festival will include a voter education campaign.
Play a part in your community and partake in this enriching 4-day festival. The festival runs from 21 – 24 March 2019 for tickets click here.
I have a right to dignity, my dignity is to be protected and respected – S10