Anti-xenophobia campaign about to hit the road

Tell them we are from here exhibition set to tour South Africa

Richard Lee's picture


Strategic communications for WWF

August 13th, 2013

While the 5th anniversary of the xenophobic riots in South Africa has come and gone, the feelings and frustrations that caused them continue to simmer dangerously under the surface.

And while the government continues to ignore the word – and the scary reality that peace in many of the key flashpoint areas is only skin deep – the anti-xenophobia campaign, Tell Them We Are From Here, continues to promote messages of tolerance and understanding.

The first phase of the project involved travelling to four different provinces in South Africa and engaging the communities in discussions around xenophobia and ideas of home and belonging.

The campaign team showed each community the award-winning film, , which was based on the xenophobic violence in 2008. It proved an excellent starting point for the discussions. Willing participants were interviewed, photographed and filmed.

The second phase of the project saw the team collate and edit all of the footage that was collected in the various provinces and turn it into a 26 minute long documentary, which was screened at the Bioscope in Johannesburg.

The powerful film was accompanied by 13 poster-size prints of interviewees, and 3 television monitors showing the past (a picture of Ernesto Nhamauve dubbed ‘The Burning Man’ during the 2008 xenophobic riots), the present (a looped video of Mido Macia being dragged behind a police vehicle- February 2013) and an interview with Gabriel Sibiya – a young man from rural Malelane giving his thoughts on how the problem of xenophobia can be stopped.

Tell Them We Are From Here is now moving into the most important phase of the campaign – taking the exhibition (film, photos and stories) back to the communities that it reflects and where the material was gathered.

“It is imperative that we take the exhibition back to the communities in order for the discourse that began after the Man On Ground screenings to continue”, said Akin Omotoso, the driving force behind the campaign and the director of Man on Ground. “It is vitally important for the communities to see themselves and their stories being told. This process not only affirms that their voices matter, it additionally gives them insights into what’s happening in other communities similar to their own.”

Along with funding from OSISA, the campaign has also been boosted by partnering with the Maboneng Township Arts Experience, which is a national public arts exhibition that turns homes in townships into galleries and the outdoor spaces into performance districts.

They will help to exhibit the material in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, while the International Office of Migration (IOM) and other partner organisations will assist with exhibiting the work in Musina and Mpumalanga.

To ensure that as many people as possible can see the exhibition, the dates have been stretched. The campaign will now be in:

  • Alexandra, Johannesburg                            27-29 September:                                           
  • Madadeni, Durban                                        26-27 October:                                 
  • Gugulethu, Cape Town                                30 November- 1 December:                       

“We have specifically chosen weekends and areas within the townships so that as many people as possible will have the chance to see the exhibition,” said Akin.


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