The Bill of Rights and engagement with students

The South African Bill of Rights is a marvellous document – recently a film by Abby Ginsburg Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter, highlights Albie Sachs’ major role in developing what we now have as part of our Constitution.

Art for Humanity (AfH), based at Durban University of Technology, has developed an excellent exhibition on the Bill of Rights.  We had a public event there today, which Crispin Hemson chaired as Director of ICON, at the university’s Art Gallery.

This was an event that pulled together different areas of work – collaboration between AfH and ICON, students from the new Cornerstone module (ICON has been central to this) presenting their creative work, and people who came and then asked if they could present poetry on the issues.  Students started with a great song on challenging the stigma directed against people who are HIV+.  This was followed by discussion in groups.

Students sing to challenge stigma related to HIV/AIDS

Students sing to challenge stigma related to HIV/AIDS

Some of the groups, in discussion

Some of the groups, in discussion

The discussion went to the current issues we face in developing a society that truly reflects the rights of the Constitution.  We then had a poem by two students against xenophobia.


There was some impressive thinking.  One student spoke about the xenophobic violence as a way of people trying to express what is wrong in the lives of South Africans, like a cry of desperation. One student pointed out how we could decide to understand each other, and how irrelevant race is to ourselves as humans.

Others spoke about the need to think before you accept cultural practices. The final point was a student who pointed out how apartheid had been able to reproduce itself down the generations – if so, a positive culture of democracy could also reproduce itself.

This is one of the events that ICON will work on in the build-up to the major conference on nonviolence, in September 2015.

Some impassioned statements came for participants

Some impassioned statements came from participants