Chapter 2 Section 9: Lesbian story shows the way back to democracy

chapter2sect9.AyandaFali -SibikwaWE should replace every colonial statue with art which recognises, acknowledges and honours South African lesbians.

I have just seen Chapter 2 Section 9, a Sibikwa Arts Centre piece of utter brilliance which takes interviews from 50 lesbians and dramatises their stories.

They are close, real, us. You will know these stories, but you won’t know the depths of horror and hatred, the atrocities we have committed against people of a different orientation to yours.

I have been told by lesbians to take a hike. I did, with a crew of lesbians on the Whale and Otter trails and I will never forget a woman coaxing her voluptuous, naked lover across a strongly flowing river saying: “You can do it my darling, you can do it!”

Other South Africans can do it too – and sharply directed pieces like this offer an incredible entry point from our alienated, homophobic, violent, dumb, unexplored, dopper, rigid-upper lip, fundamentalist, fascist world, into the story of SA lesbians.

The cruelty at every level, from the intimacy of home to the self-serving uncivil idiots in Home Affairs, and the disassociating bureaucratic blathering of insincere, hostile cops, to the violations, the beatings, corrective rape and murder,  is breath-taking  And shameful. We, messed-up South Africans should feel deeply ashamed of these stories.

But we don’t because the stories are told so damn well and with such warmth and quiet joy, that there is no time for this. We simply sit there spellbound as four black actresses weave these tales, in our many accents and languages which show us the South Africa we have become, and give us a keen sense of what we must become. A place of peace, non-violence, and acceptance. 

Every South African who cares about the freedoms enshrined in Chapter 2, Section 9, should see this piece.

It’s not good theater, it’s great theatre. It is committed, searing, touching, engrossing work.

We don’t need change, we demand change and work like this, is change.

This is the kind of story I wanted to hear today.

Her-story, history, our story.

Amandla!

Chapter 2 Section 9 runs at the National Arts Festival until Friday 8 July. Programme notes and bookings here.

— Mike Loewe

 

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