Stories of activism, exile and leadership

STORYTELLING WITH JOHNSON MLAMBO

This wonderful opportunity knocked on our door two days ago and we welcomed it in with open arms. We would now like to extend this warm welcome to you at the eleventh hour.

Johnson Mlambo will be in ‘performative’ conversation with Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa and Maria Serrano at the District Six Museum Homecoming Centre, 15 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town. The programme will run from 6 – 8pm, Thursday, 21st January 2016.

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NB* the entrance to the D6M Homecoming Centre is on Buitenkant Street, off a lane about 25 metres from the Caledon Street corner.

 

PARTICIPANT BIOGRAPHIES

Mr Johnson Mlambo is the main storyteller for the evening. Born on the 22 February 1940 in Pilgrim’s Rest, Mpumalanga, Johnson was inspired by Josiah Madzunya and  Robert Sobukwe, and joined the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) at its formation in 1959. At the time he worked as a labourer, and a clerk for the Benoni Municpality.

In 1963, at the young age of 23, Johnson was arrested with 6 others and charged with sabotage against South Africa.  He was sentenced and served 20 years on Robben Island. Amongst the many injustices he suffered was being buried alive by prison warders.  This was something that happened to many, and Johnson was able to smuggle this information out, forcing the Apartheid regime to improve conditions on the island.  On his release he spent 10 years in exile, as a leader of the PAC.  He has addressed the OAU, United Nations, Commonwealth, and the Non-Aligned Movement Countries. In 1994 he was elected to Parliament but decided not to go to parliament.  He appeared twice before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  He worked for the integration of APLA, as well as for the integration of ex-APLA, ex-MK and former Homeland armies into one National Military Veterans Association.

Johnson has a great interest in sharing stories and his knowledge with young people.  In 2012 and 2013 he completed courses on storytelling in order to refine his storytelling skills.

Johnson Mlambo will share stories of his life as an activist with his rare combination of humour, gravitas and humility.  This will be followed by a facilitated conversation.

Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa is a Ugandan-South African poet, storyteller, coach and facilitator. Her childhood home was full of story – her father the writer, her mother the teacher, researcher and narrator par excellence.  They were all avid readers.  It is here she learnt the power of story to heal, to teach, to entertain, to comfort and create a sense of community.

Philippa has a passion for folktales and myths – the wisdom of centuries, the tried and tested imagery, the archetypal characters that give new perspective to the perennial questions that we struggle with. She says, “When a story gets my heart beating faster, or an image in a story stirs something inside me, I know that that story has come to teach me at this moment in my life! I believe this is true for everyone.”

María Serrano is a multilingual international storyteller who performs in English, Swedish and Spanish. Her repertoire includes traditional-, true-life- and improvised stories. She first met Johnson Mlambo in 2012 on a storytelling course in Cape Town. She has since performed his story “The Mother of All Tears” in several countries in a variety of settings.

“I remember telling Jonhson’s story in the street outside a bookshop in Spain and seeing the look in the eyes of the young men, aged 16-17, hearing about how seeing young men their age arriving at Robben Island, made Johnson decide he would never stop fighting apartheid.” she recalls.

For more information contact the Museum: 021 4667200 / info@districtsix.co.za

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