We kindly invite you to our next 1001 South African Stories, this session is on Reclamation – language, space, home, art, life.
Our guests to share their stories will be:
DENVER BREDA will speak about the Khoesan languages project, how the loss of native languages can affect the indigenous communities, what consequences it leads to, and how the reclamation of language can reduce these negative effects. He will also introduce the exchange programme of Khoekhoe that young people can apply for.
CHUMA SOMDAKA is a young street artist who has spent the last three years of her life sleeping on a park bench in the Company Garden in Cape Town. Despite being homeless, alone and enduring the loss of her leg from an amputation above the knee, Chuma has not allowed herself to be disabled by circumstance. It is simply her foundation from which to build a better life. One as bright and as promising as her mesmerising works of art.
Through her gift for finding beauty in the forgotten, Chuma’s portraits explore the lives of everyday people living on the streets, capturing their energy, emotions, thoughts and telling their stories. In so doing, she brings an element of humanity to the face of homelessness.
Date: Friday 15 December 2017
Venue: The Book Lounge, 71 Roeland Street, Gardens, Cape Town
Please like and follow our 1001 SA stories fb page and invite your friends along to the event!
The year 2017 began with me having to start school at Ruth Prowse School of Art in Woodstock. I have grown so fond of it, and have learnt so much from attending here as a Fine arts student. It has been a hell of a journey for me personally because I now know that love, humanity, and support that I have received from South Africa and all over the world has deeply touched me and gave me the courage to face my fears. It pushed me to not drop out of school and to keep my faith and to keep on inspiring and giving thanks.
This year my life and outlook on life in general has changed for the good. I have learnt in art history what value art plays in society and why its so important to have artist like myself share and communicate through art whatever that is socially empowering and spiritually uplifting. It was difficult at first having to adopt to everything new and especially having to attend classes, learning different skills and keeping up with the rest of my classmates, but it has been a lovely experience overall and I look forward to next year.
Rony is a gay male who is physically disabled and he comes to town to
hustle. He had a stroke years back, and is also a drug addict. He was involved with
dikie last year. He has a mother who comes to town looking for him because she gets worried about him being in town and sleeping in the street but as soon as his mom
takes him home Rony will appear in town again a day later with his cup on his hand asking for small change. We argue a lot when he is sitting with me at the bench in the
gardens, it irritates the hell out if me when he does that with me around. If
the person or people don’t respond back he will pass rude remarks or worse saying ‘he wants to buy drugs with their money’. I myself have grown close to him and even though we argue allot we enjoy each others company. He is HIV positive and takes his ARVs with him where ever he goes.
Andile is a car guard at kloof street opposite the Wellness Centre. We met at the shelter and became friends whilst living on the street. He used to drink a lot but now he is using tik and other stuff. He is god loving man and he gets beaten a lot and has his money gets taken. The last time we were together, two guys and a girl came and started fighting with him. He got kicked in the face. He was arrested this year for possession of drugs and is also a 28 gangster but none of his gang members respect him. They are usually the first to rob him or take his stuff without his permission. Most of the time he is alone and likes to smoke alone. He recently received a phone from a women from the car park. When she came back to her car she handed him the phone, but he only was able to keep it for a week before one of his friends took from him. He is 48 years old grew up in Phillipi, where his family still stays. The reason he left home to live on the streets is because he killed someone in self defence. He couldn’t deal with it, and the family of the victim lives near his house. That was the most difficult part for him – he still today has a hard time forgiving himself.
Mary is 20 years old and I met her at the church we used to attend on Wednesday with Pastor John. She is an addict and she steals. She breaks into cars. She will do anything to feed her habit. She stole my bag during the night when was fast asleep about two years back when we were all staying together as one big family. She and her boyfriend who is now in prison used to rob every day, even in the gardens during the day. She is always high and carries a sharp object with her. She likes being the only girl in the group. She was kidnapped by Timo and he forced her to be his girlfriend, and that’s how she ended up living on the streets. She came to town with her sister and friend for June holidays, and during that time her life got taken away. She has not returned since the accident but wished she could have the courage to go back home. She is sometimes able to talk to her sister who works in town. Timo kept her up in the mountain for almost six months and the only reason he let her free was because she agreed to be his girlfriend. He started selling her to the drug-dealers and thats how she became a sex worker and even though he was prostituting her he still forced her to have unprotected sex. It was during the night after a long time she came to visit me as we sat chatting I decided to sketch her and that was last week and thats the last time I saw her.
The message written on the lock is indeed truthful. And to top it off, for two years, I slept on the bench that had this chain locked on it.
Every now and then I still come and sit at the bench in the gardens. My life has been a journey that I sometimes feel bitter about, but I’ve come to acknowledge that with my past comes strength and courage to carry on. I need the practical experience of having patience and faith to be true and find peace within myself as well as forgiveness.
Now I’m on the road to recovery and it’s not easy, but it is healthy for me. The art school is teaching me a lot and I love each and every day I’m able to learn and interact in class. I am still struggling with art materials and would appreciate it if any donations come through.
The T-shirt and cards are up for sale still! Thank you for all your support and generosity towards my growth and development. God bless us all as we strive for peace, love, and humanity.
To bridge a the gap between fashion and art, Coast and Koi used some of my work as prints on their T-shirts. Some of this was shown at the Decorex expo in Cape town.
“We’ll be showcasing Chuma Somdaka’s street art plus her amazing printed cards and art works, along with some gorgeous T’s handprinted and signed by Chuma”. See a full article here.
I was interviewed on Expresso, and here is the video –
The process of adjusting to being in school and having a place that I wake up to find myself safe and warm in makes me feel so blessed.
At school, I’m attending art classes and learning more about art as a career and business. The first time in class I was excited and not sure what to expect but eager to learn. The lessons are not too difficult for me, but I have been struggling with print-making, and I was unable to hand in my final work, a landscape collography. I am going to have to learn to ask for help when I don’t know or misunderstand.
I have been concentrating on my school work and researching the history of art and design elements to give me the overall understanding of what I can work on and achieve good marks while having enough time to produce artworks to sell in order to support myself.
Thank you to all of those that support me. Your support, kindness and generosity towards me and my future, and giving me the opportunity to education is amazing. Every night I secretively prayed for school and to have access to accommodation and resources to help me achieve my goals. I’m not going to have the same amount of time as I did before attending school, so now I am going to update the blog two times a month and that’s if I’m not falling behind school project.
This is a space I chose at school, Ruth Prowse Woodstock where I’m currently studying Fine Arts. A painting done by Chuma, and you can see some more as I continue learning. I love my school,it’s the best.