|Co-Chair of BARAC, Lee Jasper with Nelson Mandela|
|Zita Holbourne, Co-Chair BARAC UK with Abdul Minty, Honorary Secretary of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) 1962 to 1995|
ACTSA is the successor organisation to the Anti-Apartheid Movement, originally known as The Boycott Movement. I grew up in a family who supported the boycott campaign. As a student, participating in the Anti-Apartheid Movement was my grounding for becoming an anti-racist activist. So I am proud to have been elected to the ACTSA National Executive Council for a number of years now. This year we celebrate our 20th year as an organisation. Nelson Mandela welcomed ACTSA's formation by saying "And so we warmly welcome the transformation of the Anti-Apartheid Movement to Action for Southern Africa."
|BARAC officers celebrate with South Africans in London|
When Nelson Mandela passed away last year I had the great honour of performing a tribute poem, at his official UK memorial service at St Martin's in the Field and I wrote this tribute for The ACTSA website and The Voice Newspaper, entitled Honouring Nelson Mandela's Memory by Continuing His Legacy.
|Zita Holbourne, Co-Chair of BARAC, at a tribute to Nelson Mandela, Trafalgar Square, London|
So I think that it is fitting that in continuing Madiba's legacy, ACTSA has spoken out about the pain and damage that the Human Zoo known as Exhibt B, by Brett Bailey and hosted by The Barbican and The Vaults is causing to black communities in the UK.
Here is a letter written by Director of ACTSA, Tony Dykes to Nicholas Kenyon Director of the Barbican.
Sir Nicholas Kenyon
16 September 2014
Dear Sir Nicholas Kenyon
Re: Exhibit B- Barbican staging of 23- 27 September 2014
Action for Southern Africa, ACTSA, the successor organisation to the Anti-Apartheid Movement adds its concerns to those being expressed by many individuals and organisations at the Barbican’s staging of the production Exhibit B. We urge the Barbican to listen and act on these concerns.
Many people - black and white, organisations of black people, and organisations active against racism in the UK, including trade unions, object to its staging - believing that whatever the intention of the production, it objectifies black people, it is voyeuristic, exploitative and demeaning.
2014 is the 20th anniversary of South Africa becoming a free and democratic country. The country is dealing with the legacy of apartheid and colonialism, including the doctrine of white supremacy. South Africa is trying to deal with this horrific past and its impact by challenging racism as it builds a democratic, non-racist and non-sexist state through significant processes of reflection, learning, engaging in dialogue and discussion including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Apartheid Museum and Robben Island. This is in contrast to a one-off show that depicts black people as objects, yet does not seem to have involved black people in the development of the concept and production and which many view as voyeuristic.
The Barbican itself does not seem to have thought that if it is to stage this production it should proactively engage with the black community in the UK, getting their views rather than simply stage a production and when there is criticism of this dismiss it as an attempt at censorship.
One of the key lessons from South Africa is that it is what you do but also how you do it and what is your motive for doing it that is important.
To challenge racism requires a sustained commitment, not a one-off production, and there needs to be the active involvement and engagement of those who continue to experience racism. To stage a production that is clearly offensive to many - who view it as a re-enactment of racism, demeaning and patronising and without apparently considering this could be the view - indicates a Barbican that is not sensitive to the views of black people, black organisations and those actively campaigning against racism.
ACTSA urges the Barbican to really listen and engage with those who object to its staging of Exhibit B.
Tony Dykes Director
|London celebration of South Africa Women's Day|
Nelson Mandela said; 'For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others'
It's about time that Brett Bailey and the decision makers at The Barbican, The Vaults and other organisations responsible for Exhibit B taking place in London, use their freedom and privilege to respect the right to freedom, dignity and equality of those who live with the legacy of historic racism and institutional racism every day.
Join BARAC and the organisations that form the Boycott the Human Zoo Campaign in our mass picket of The Vaults from Tuesday to Saturday next week.