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Photography by Khotso Mahlangu

Celebration as a form of political engagement – the significance of AFROPUNK at Constitution Hill

It is quite fitting that basic ideas that make up South Africa’s constitution are also the slogans that have become so closely tied to the core of the AFROPUNK festival and the online platform – “No Sexism, No Racism, No Ableism, No Ageism, No Homophobia, No Fatphobia, No Transphobia and No Hatefulness”. Considering that the AFROPUNK organizers are heavily invested in spaces with historical significance, it makes sense that Constitution Hill would be the first location in South Africa where the festival would be held.

Referring to this slogan Manushka Magloire, the director of community affairs at AFROPUNK, expressed that, “This is our NO HATE doctrine or rules of conduct if you will, when entering a space in which we honor and exalt the beauty in and of one another. NO HATE is at the epicenter of the foundational core of what we look to embody as an organization and platform. AFROPUNK is the microphone of thought & a lens of perspective – if our mission is to celebrate individuality, freedom of expression in every form imaginable and unleash creativity.”

This extends the significance of the festival beyond being a moment to breathe for alternative black culture. It becomes another wing with additional rooms in the house of freedom and justice that people of colour in South Africa, and around the world, continue to build through their engagement with multiple politics and activism.

When asked about the importance of making politics and activism a part of how AFROPUNK operates, Manushka explained that, “By virtue of being born black or brown in this world is and of itself a political act. By virtue of accident of birth, we are born activists.”

As explained by AFROPUNK co-founder Matthew Morgan in an earlier interview, the festival is about celebrating black excellence. It could be argued that this celebration is a form of political engagement or activism in and of itself. In the same way that sharing the images and stories of South African struggle heroes and heroines in the different spaces at Constitution Hill allows for remembrance and a celebration of black historical figures.

Reflecting on the decision for AFROPUNK to be held at Constitution Hill Manushka explained that, “AFROPUNK Joburg will take place at Constitution Hill – a prolific location with a storied history. It’s important to highlight this unique celebration of liberated freedom of expression and individuality that uplifts the collective experience of black & brown communities across the globe will be on the grounds of a former prison that housed Mandela, Ghandi and Winnie amongst others who gave their lives to fight for equality. The SA Constitution was born here – arguably the most progressive of its kind- with a preamble of WE THE PEOPLE. Words shared by the US Constitution as well. In these current times, these values & ideologies serve as the rallying cry to unify the 99% the world over in our collective fight for justice.”

 

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