Video and text by Derin, Penn-in-Grahamstown student.

Rhythms of Eastern Cape

One of my expectations for this trip was exposure to indigenous South African culture, specifically dance. As we walked over to the venue for this event, I was bursting with excitement, although I wasn’t sure what to expect. The event had already started when we got there. There was a crowd that encircled the performers with some people sitting on the bleachers and some standing. The event was informal so this was held outside. First thing I noticed was the age of the artists. The women were older, some even looked old enough to be my grandmother, while the men looked younger. As some of the men played instruments (guitar, whistle, and a few others), the women would chant, sing and dance. There was a lot of swinging of hips, arm movements, clapping, and stomping. The women moved in unison as a single entity. After a while, they would then change places with the male dancers and proceed to the back of the group. The male dancers would then be in the front dancing. The men used props (horse tail) as they danced and stomped their way across the stage. The performance was quite interesting and I definitely enjoyed it.


第19回 文化庁メディア芸術祭 受賞作品展が開幕。

Exhibition of Award-winning Works




Stay curious about the world around you: Neil Coppen’s useful insights for aspiring directors & writers

Neil Coppen’s passion about South African story-telling is a running theme in his work. He talks to us about his experience on the judging panel at the Durban International Film Festival, the importance of story-telling and creative control as well as what he is working on for the rest of the year.

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Photos and captions by Professor Carol Muller, ethnomusicologist and Penn-in-Grahamstown group leader:

Prisoner Rehabilitation: Prisoner Rehabilitation with marimba performance

Marimba Musicians: Marimba musicians playing South African chestnut, Meadowlands,a reminder of forced removals of the 1950s.

Children Learn Marimba: Children learn to play marimba at the Children’s Arts Festival, Jasmine is on the right.


Iain ‘Ewok’ Robinson performs in YOBO: You’re only born once in the Thomas Pringle hall in Grahamstown on 8 July 2015; at the 2015 National Arts Festival. Robinson’s spoken word and poetic lines are used to tell the story of a solitary white South African man, discovering his position in a post-apartheid SA and realises the contemporary issues we face that link to our history. (Photo: CUEPIX/Niamh Walsh-Vorster)

Also published in Archetype Online Magazine and Cue 

The Initial Proposal For This Year's Remix Lab Programme...

Whilst logistics and budgets have altered the way that the initial proposal will be delivered in Grahamstown this year, the team have done a great job in maintaining the core values and ideals that have inspired the journey we are about to embark on.

I thought it would be interesting to share the proposal that initially sparked conversations about the exploration of Hip-Hop Culture at Grahamstown’s National Arts Festival through Remix Lab, to reveal where the thought process behind this year’s workshop programme came from - and to reveal the growth when we actually come to deliver it.

- Grant


Having visited the Eastern Cape twice this year on Swallows Foundation UK projects, as online profile manager but unable to remove my other “hat” as a hip-hop journalist and events co-ordinator it is an obvious progression to want to work on the progression of the natural and flourishing hip-hop culture that exists in the region.

I feel that it is important not to try to take ownership on this culture and impose any of our preconceived notions of “How the culture should be”. Of course it is a culture that is said to have originated in the West (although this has been challenged to me by South Africans before) and therefore I think the approach is in questioning, discussion and mentorship, in order to develop a truly African take on the culture – meshing our understanding and knowledge that we’ve gained of the culture via the internet, travel and teaching that maybe isn’t accessible to many participants in the Eastern cape.

This would mean ensuring that the countries leaders in their own urban arts are  involved in the process, and that native art-forms like Pantsula are involved as well as the traditional four elements of the culture; Rapping, DJing, B-Boying and Graffiti. I would also argue that elements like DJing may not be relevant to many artists in the Eastern Cape who are more likely to make their own instruments and record them straight into a laptop, rather than setting up turntables, sampling vinyl etc. The latter resources would likely be hard and expensive to come by in the Eastern Cape and therefore might not have much legacy beyond the project.

It is not difficult to find hip-hop culture existing in the Eastern Cape already, a mention of the word ‘Breakdance’ has a group of township children rapping, beat-boxing and body-popping, a five minute walk through a Black residential area exposes countless young men listening to mainstream US hip-hop records from their cellphones. But why is it important to develop this? The answer lies in the development of an identity and confidence in these young people. The majority of the culture is about developing ones identity and this is why with context, coaching and mentorship these young people can flourish in areas of their life beyond making music or dancing.

Through writing and recording their own music, putting together their own dance crews, developing their own styles and learning to stay contextually relevant on a worldwide scale, these young people can learn a lot about creativity, organisation, business, marketing and much more. Already in the North East of England we have developed groups of very self-aware young people who are developing skills outside of breaking; completing college courses in dance, assisting on the marketing and organisation of events and running their own crew, and this could easily be transferred to those in the Eastern Cape.


To curate a stage at Grahamstown festival 2014 which will allow us to stage musicians, dance shows and battles courtesy of young people who will have undergone a series of workshops, discussions, coaching and feedback sessions relevant to their various art forms courtesy of a team of UK based facilitators who will come over to share their own skills and knowledge as well as to listen to and learn from the already thriving culture that exists in the Eastern Cape, with the aim to help them focus and hone their talents and skills that can help them become self-aware sustainable artists and creatives. This will also include participants learning to market the stage themselves using various real-time and online methods in order to see a difference in audience and how these methods really can help them in the real world.


Photos and text by Derin, Penn-in-Grahamstown Student

World Sounds of Jazz

The lead saxophonist at this jazz performance was entertaining to watch. It wasn’t because he was amazing, although he was good, but rather because of his movements. The group played high energetic songs, but as the saxophonist played, he bent his knees in exaggeration and moved up and down, appearing to feel the music. In my opinion however, it didn’t look natural but rather rehearsed and fake. As I watched him, I couldn’t help feeling he had watched his favorite jazz artists do this and hence was copying their movements. In addition, I didn’t care for some of the music they played, particularly the ones composed by their piano man. Two of the songs composed by the piano man were not only boring to me, but also lacked substance. It seemed written by an amateur to me as I listened to the solo pieces (sax, drums, etc). The music composed by the saxophonist however was a lot better.


Rudzani Moleya, Thola Antamu and Ciara Baldwin perform in the KBT productions dance, Home, at the Glennie Hall venue in Grahamstown on 3 July 2015; at the 2015 National Arts Festival. Written by Penelope Youngleston Home follows the stories of three women of cross-cultural experiences in South Africa, each voice giving insight to the times they live in. (Photo: CUEPIX/Niamh Walsh-Vorster)

Also published on Cue


Photos and text by Vincent, Penn-in-Grahamstown student. The following is an excerpt from a review of the Rhythms of the Eastern Cape Jazz Shows:

I have never known jazz to this extent, I must admit. I have had a few jazz tunes here and there, listened a lot to Kenny G and I was confident I knew I had a “rich” knowledge in jazz…but after [these] shows, I am just at the beginner’s level and there is a lot to listen to.

Tutu Poane’s performance was smooth and very soothing. Her voice, even though she was just humming the melody with the trumpet accompaniment, was very relaxing and it felt like she was singing a lullaby. The saxophone was evidently missing, I must say, and I didn’t expect it to feel the music like the jazz that I am used to; but at the end of the show, I realized that jazz can be jazz without a saxophone. The drummer, Maco Wyatt, really made the show feel like an African jazz performance. He had an assortment of instruments, which reminded me of choirs and traditional dances back in Kenya. From the “kayamba” shakers, the drums and the metal triangle that he hit from time to time, all these were redolent of instruments that we use to perform in Kenya. The showstopper was certainly when he used his mouth and cheeks as a percussion instrument. That was sensational.

The Soweto Kinch and Bokani Dyer’s performance was my typical jazz performance, only way better. The entire crew of the band was like assembling a soccer dream team—everyone was lively and gave a great performance. From Soweto Kinch, in the saxophone—who sometimes gave me the chills with his spontaneous and fast playing while jumping octaves every now and then, to the drummer Kesivan Vierdag—who played the drum as if it was his last time, and of course the Andreas Schaerer, the human instrument. Andreas was a trumpet, a saxophone, a DJ mixer, a bass guitar and the list goes on. He made the show very exciting and was an entertaining to watch while he performed. He had a lot of energy.

Tutu Poane and Soweto Kinch’s performance felt international. The band members I noticed were from the entire world—Belgium, USA, Mozambique and Britain. I was wondering whether these artists developed and established themselves while abroad like Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela. After reading their history, this was not entirely true. In fact both of these two African artists are both of the post-apartheid generation of musicians. Tutu started performing here in South Africa while in UCT, but Kinch began in the UK. I am wondering, is the jazz they perform now based more on their background and history in Africa, South Africa, or it is now focused for the international market?

The Cape Guitar Summit jazz was a completely new kind of jazz to me. I was not particularly moved by the performance partly because the first time I had of Cape Jazz was during our online class. The first tune that I heard as Cape Jazz was the best I have piece of jazz I have ever heard—Basil Coetzee’s weeping saxophone. My expectation was nothing short of a saxophone. Contrary to my expectations, there was no saxophone; rather, it was a four-man guitar band and a drummer. Their performance did not entertain me at all. It was dull, repetitive and the band showed no signs of excitement. There was a huge difference between the previous show by Soweto Kinch.


1. Raymond Oliphant in Kaditshwene at the recreation centre venue in Grahamstown on 5 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. The musical theatre tells the story of Tswana descent in Kaditshwene, a place where the Ndebele war happened, through music, poetry, song and dance (Photo: CUEPIX/Niamh Walsh-Vorster)

2. Peter Selloane in Kaditshwene at the recreation centre venue in Grahamstown on 5 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. The musical theatre tells the story of Tswana descent in Kaditshwene, a place where the Ndebele war happened, through music, poetry, song and dance (Photo: CUEPIX/Niamh Walsh-Vorster)