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by on February 21, 2009

In the telling and retelling of their stories/ They create communities of memory/ History, despite it’s wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced /With courage, need not be lived again.

(Maya Angelou)


DURBAN SINGS is a regional audio media and oral history project with a story to tell, an open platform for contributions and re-mixes from other listeners, and a trajectory of joining hemispheres via audio correspondence between listeners: building on a listening bridge between community, artists and activist groups of the Southern and Northern hemispheres.






“Its oral history aspect is about reclaiming the re-membering of our condition. (us = Azanians) and sharing this with global audience: the attempt in advancing an African theory of history.”


for audio samples and images from the audio media and oral history workshop, 02-06 February 2009:








Learning by Re-membering 

Office of Dennis Brutus. Poet and activist. Dennis begins the conversation by reading a poem he wrote the night before. It reflects his thoughts about Gaza in the memory of other names and places of horror. It’s a day after the demonstration to call for a boycott of Israeli goods in the Port of Durban. Most of the conversation circles around a poem by Dennis from 2004 called ‘Memory’ born from a march through Alexandra township in Johannesburg. Now, it triggers more thoughts about the dynamics of remembering and history in South Africa. The poem had been an inspiration for and on the reading list of the February DURBAN SINGS audio media and oral history workshop.



Faith for Complete Freedom

February 2009. The terrace of the BAT centre. Overlooking Durban’s port. Jazz form the Café Bar. And April’s elections in South Africa approaching. The Durban poet, writer and activist Faith ka-Manzi talks about her vision of complete freedom and her wish for political education of young people. Attitudes of “don’t say a word!” are lingering not only in old township stories; which, none the less, she also tells. Faith ka-Manzi has been engaged in numerous political campaigns and is particularly concerned about issues of gender and sexual rights.






8th February. A demonstration in Durban’s port on a Sunday morning. Some difficulties to gather at first. But the comrades find each other; and spirited speeches follow. The aim of the protest: a call for boycott of goods from Israel entering South Africa. The speakers are Patrick Bond (Centre for Civil Society, UKZN), the poet Denis Brutus and Na’eem Jeenah (Palestine Solidarity Committee).






 November 2008. The smokers’ room of a bar. Downtown Durban. Aircon, Aluminum, Smoke. We are not at “Berea Bar”. But this is the place Similo talks about. It’s one of his favourite places in Durban; and it’s a no-go-zone of sorts. He explains why and tells some of the stories of its patrons. Similo is a young film-maker from the Transkai now based in Durban. He continues with a story from the Durban music and poetry scene. The conversation occurred after the picketing of an Imbiso in Albert Park in support of the refugees living in the park (at  is a recording of Similo’s statement at the Imbiso).


photos: Albert Park: Delphine Mmbibya 

slide show of photos by Delphin Mmbibya



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