LIVE! From South Africa: Blog Entry 6

November 15, 2008: Mo(ve)ments that Move Us

For two weeks in November 2008, Women, Power and Politics Curator Masum Momaya blogged from Cape Town, South Africa, where she met with hundreds of women artists, activists and advocates from all over the world. Follow her reflections during the trip and check out videos and audio from the Feminist Technology Exchange and AWID International Forum.
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Kenyan poet Shailja Patel performs at the 2008 AWID Forum.
Kenyan poet Shailja Patel punctuates her performance at the 2008 AWID Forum. View Larger >
A scene from the South African theatre production, "Reclaiming the P Word" View Larger >
Dancing the 2008 AWID Forum View Larger >
Today, I was fortunate to experience several moving moments. In addition to all the incisive analysis that goes on in a space like the AWID Forum, it’s nice to be reminded – and to experience – feelings of rage, sadness, triumph and elation that unite all of us, in spite of the differing languages we speak and the various contexts we live in.

During the opening plenary, we were treated to a poetry performance by Kenyan poet Shailja Patel. Inspired by many struggles against women’s oppression and for genuine democracy in her native Kenya, in the Bay Area in California and around the world, Shailja presented two riveting poems. Most of us were in tears.

Later in the afternoon, I attended a session on using Edutainment to foster changes in attitudes about issues such as domestic violence, sexual identity and immigrant rights. Three organizations – from South Africa, India and Nicaragua presented music videos and television shows that had been created to raise awareness and coupled with on-the-ground and internet-based campaigns to create dialogue and inspire citizen activism. Watching these pieces, I was reminded of the power of artistic expression to bring about changes that analysis and dialogue alone may not accomplish.

The day was punctuated by an evening performance of a play entitled, “ Reclaiming The P Word.” In a similar spirit to the Vagina Monologues, the “P” stands for poes - the Afrikaans term for the vagina, which is often used in a derogatory sense. South African feminists have endured much in their history, including a recent high profile rape case, increasingly neglectful HIV/AIDS policy and a growing food crisis. It was particularly moving to understand these struggles through the medium of theater.

And this day (and the Forum) would not have been complete without us shaking a leg. After all, “what’s the point of the revolution if we can’t dance!”


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Entry 1: Cape Town Bound

Entry 2: Politics of Border Crossings

Entry 3: Day One

Entry 4: Sounds & Sights

Entry 5: After Russia

Entry 6: Mo(ve)ments that Move Us

Entry 7: The Women of South Africa

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