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Kagiso Kekana and Sonya Rademeyer, in collaboration with VIAD and in association with the University of Johannesburg.Collectively, we share an interest in deepening understandings around cultural healing in South Africa. This is our story.

My story I was born in Bulawayo in 1964 exactly at the time that Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) was officially declared a British Colony (1964-1965). When I was one year old, Rhodesia announced itself as a self-declared country independent from British rule, becoming a country without international recognition (1965-1979) until its independence in 1980. My parents, Elma and Eddie Rademeyer, met in Bulawayo which is situated in the southwestern province, previously referred to as Matabeleland. They married and had three children, of which I am the middle. My mother was born in Kenya and my father was born in Bulawayo, which is also the place of burial of both my grandparents on my father’s side, where they eternally rest in Bulawayo’s red soil. But in many ways my story does not begin in 1964 but rather on the morning of 21 April 1751 when Cornelius Rademeyer set foot at the Cape Colony on his arrival from Rotterdam (The Netherlands), becoming the forefather of the Rademeyer clan within Southern Africa. Over time, and as the politics shifted within the Cape Colony, many Boer families (those primarily from Dutch descent) trekked from the Cape Colony and into the interior of South Africa, with some moving beyond the Zambezi River as did my great-grandparents. Referred to as "voortrekkers", these early colonists were looking to escape British rule. In 1923, Southern Rhodesia, as it was to be called, was placed under British jurisdiction, and became a British protectorate. Belonging to a small Afrikaans-speaking group in Bulawayo, we neither belonged to the reigning dominant British nor the indigenous Ndebele peoples of Matabeleland. With a church and a small supporting school attached to it, the Rademeyer’s and several other Afrikaans-speaking families formed a cohesive and insular society where everyone was known to each other. In this way the culture was warm and welcoming. Nonetheless, as a young child I was painfully aware of the ethnic and cultural divides I found myself immersed in. A distinct memory from this time was feeling painfully uncomfortable and confused as I lived in a space of stark cultural division. Severe divide was to follow me into South Africa and into the tangible racial hatred of South Africa; something I could physically feel when crossing Beit Bridge (the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa) whilst travelling to boarding school. After I finished my schooling I barely lasted a year in Pretoria - then the hotbed of Apartheid - and left for a more liberal Cape Town where Cornelius had set foot some 272 years before me. I had come full circle. I am, therefore, from white colonist descent, born of a somewhat displaced people who, uninvited, settled on Matabeleland soil. One’s place of birth is significant … as is the soil of Bulawayo where I am from. Yet, I am not ‘from here’, not from the Matabeleland soil, but am from voortrekker or settler-stock that dispossessed Matabele’s from their own land. Like many other children of white colonist-descendants that ‘settled’ in Southern Africa, we were told how hard the voortrekkers had had to work to simply survive, and what it took to survive within such wild and pristine country. From the faded imagery kept in shoeboxes we had no doubt that this was so, judging from the strained white faces looking back at us … yet I was more aware of the black bodies that I was seeing in these images that were always in some supportive servant role. There was little, if any, reference to these black peoples and as I grew older it became obvious to me that there was no ‘mixing’ between white and black races. However, as a curious child who was given an enormous amount of freedom, my sister and I would find our own way into the Ndebele kraals where we would be chased out by the Elders. I sensed something authentic and out of my reach within this place. Yet, I was sadly unaware and ignorant to the fact that the Ndebele where a dispossessed people because of my own ancestral predecessors. In 2018 I was selected to participate in the inaugural Tankwa Artscape Residency which took place in the arid and semi-desert area of the Tankwa Karoo, where I worked only with the soil from this place. On being selected for the second 2019 Tankwa Artscape Residency, my spirit had absorbed (and held) the pain of this place where the San and the KhoiKhoi (the First Nation Peoples of South Africa) were hunted by early colonists, contributing to the genocide of the San peoples. Prior going into this Residency, I took only two items: my Rademeyer Genealogy book and a white dress. When I re-entered and re-connected to the Tankwa desert land I created a series of short performances within the landscape in the dress that bore the rubbings from the rock surfaces at Tankwa. For me, the rubbings spoke to the memories of a People that had suffered genocide at the hands of my predecessors, connecting my ancestral Rademeyer Genealogy directly to myself, and for all time. The video piece "please forgive me" was born in the remoteness of the Tankwa, and in creating it, I have forever been changed. My journey into understanding my place within Southern Africa as a white research-artist has been amplified during this research residency. I have been able to forward this search as I grapple with issues of whiteness, digging deeply into the painful awareness that my colonial mind is forever present and that I shall battle with it always. I have, thankfully, discovered other researchers actively working with anti-colonial and decolonizing practices, but it has primarily been the work of Canadian scholar, Elizabeth Carlson-Manathara, who has helped me in my journey towards understanding what it means to be ‘Living in Indigenous Sovereignty’ (also the title of her book). Written for those who wish to live honourably in relationship with Indigenous Peoples, her positionality as a white settler occupying Indigenous lands and explored through anti-colonial and decolonising methodologies, helps me accept that I am not ‘from here’, even though it might feel this way. This acceptance is not a place of arrival however, but more a place of acknowledgment that I am a guest only, to Southern Africa in this lifetime. As I move forward on this pathway, I am deeply grateful to those who I am meeting along this journey. In "Sound and Soil" my heart is opened towards the many great healers I have met and that have woven their stories into the project. I am both deeply privileged and honoured that they have been willing to engage with me when, at times, it must also have been difficult to do, and I am humbled by their openness to me as a white researcher. I am listening, and learning.

Sonya Rademeyer

My story I was born in Soweto, South Africa. I believe that when I was born, my mother had already consciously made a decision to baptise and introduce me to God so I may grow up as a Christian believer over whatsoever. As she explains, she grow up in a household lead by her maternal grandparents as well as her mother, uncles, aunts, cousins and siblings, and her grandfather was the spiritual head of the household, he was a reverend at a local Catholic Church, and was a very gifted wise man & interpreter who could see the future in his dreams, and very much developed the culture of family prayer altars on the daily. However somehow, ancestral worship and/or ceremonies transpired every once in a while. It was clear that there was a stream of binary spiritual paths. As life continued my mother shares of how her mother and uncle were later initiated into the spiritual calling/path of Traditional African spirituality and practice as sangoma’s and even though my grandfather did not approve of this spiritual path he allowed his children to get on board, what makes this story even more peculiar is that my mother’s great grandfather was a sangoma and when the time came for him to pass on the baton to my mother’s grandfather, he refused and as a result his father cursed him. My mother further shares that even though the family was not that poor there was a serious sense of stagnation and preceding sicknesses that afflicted mostly her mother & uncle, and whenever the family consulted with prophets and/or spiritual healers, they were told that the only way to heal or be delivered from their afflictions was to accept the calling of traditional healing practises. Although my mother’s grandfather had refused the call handed down to him, it ultimately affected his offspring. My mother explains how her mother and uncle toiled in the process of initiation, offering countless rituals, one of them involved the process of waking up before dawn to offer spiritual sacrifices through song, dance and beating of the drum. Instead of seeing a greater light in the tunnel of affliction she saw her elders draw deeper into affliction, could this had been as a result of the curse or the spiritual uncertainties within the chosen path? Unfortunately, my grandmother did not succeed in her quest of spiritual awakening/gift instead she fell ill and no western medicine assisted her in alleviating the pain, as a result she lost her life. Therefore my mother raised me strictly on Christian values where Jesus Christ is the only solid way & saving Grace to God. She was also the first in the family to pursue this path. However my father & his family were also Christians who believed in ancestral worship as well, my paternal grandmother was baptised as a prophetess who prayed & healed people by using ash, water and white candles. Complicated right? Imagine being me, having born into such strong spiritually inclined bloodlines. Although my grandmother is a prophetess baptised through the Anglican Church, she believes in ancestral worship but not in the traditional African healing process of the Sangomas and/or Inyangas, but to her surprise her daughter was later initiated as an Inyanga, and oh boy didn’t this cause a stir in the family! Only to later learn that my paternal grandfather’s father was a highly profiled Inyanga in the Kekana tribe which of royal decadence. Nonetheless, as a young adult, I found myself on a quest to understand what spirituality really means particularly from an African indigenous perspective, after all we are spiritual beings. It’s quite difficult to be a black Christian woman in a society that claims that we were colonised and that “the bible came by boat”, yet the spiritual signs and manifestations are there to prove God’s existence as the bible proclaims, whilst African spirituality proves to be “a win and a loss” to many black communities, where traditional medicines pursued by African healers have proven to be more successful over western medicine which is said to have been stolen from the African tribes. I’m a passionate advocate of the arts, the art of performance in particular for it allows me to express my unique creative self. Performance art unites people of innumerable cultures and religions through its indulgent in entertainment, laughter and the positive environment that cultivates therapy. The musical, dance and dramatic pieces I create connect people with their roots, their Creator and the universe we live in whilst simultaneously exerting on addressing the social ills we face as a society. My work utilises the creative methods of the Arts to address social issues and encourage positive social change. In 2018 I met Sonya Rademeyer, and after a collaboration in 2019, I have been looking for new opportunities to extend our collaborative practice further. Our communal interest in doing this is to learn and listen to how African ways of knowing might perform healing within a multicultural society, to further connect traditional African healing practices to mycelium as a metaphor in exploring cultural interconnectedness through artistic practice. Nourishment as metaphor for healing, connects to land, soil, earth and cosmology which, in African spirituality, are inseparable.3 Indigenous relational practices such as dances, ritual song, personal story-telling, and community stories.

Kagiso Kekana


Research artists

My story I was born in Augusta, Georgia, in the Southeastern United States at the boundary in time between the analog and the digital worlds. My first encounters with art, creation, and the world of belief were in my grandmother’s kitchen - listening to stories about our world and the world beyond as she shelled beans or as we waited for ingredients to slowly ‘get together’ on the stove. The South is a land scarred by the actions of our past - actions of great civil injustice and violence which carry implications for how we live today - but it is also home to a culture of deep care and of intersecting identities. As we acknowledge this history of racial injustice and oppression in my country we must continue to make a meaningful effort to repair this injustice through listening and through actions of care. My work with media and large-scale installation practices support openness and equity in the representation of this world. I work with my hands, using technologies and construction practices not heavily used by women from my background, to speak to the power of the open source movement and the agency that this provides to underrepresented groups. My work is a response to expanding technology, the inability to define borders in ecological or social change, and as an analysis of relations and participation. This work is a practice rooted in deep listening. I often use audio within my work because, unlike seeing, in which one could look away, listeners cannot ‘hear away.’ Listening invites presence and acknowledges the value and importance of perspectives beyond our own. In my studio work I employ a high-tech DIY toolbox of handmade electronic objects and traditional recording devices to navigate the physical landscape, often of my home state of Georgia. My work with the landscape is a metaphor for my relationship to the intersecting cultures that I inhabit. Through representing the landscape - using technology and representation to share stories of navigation, loss, growth, and sensing - I have been able to tell more of my story. In telling our story to someone, we enter into trust. And true community, the kind that we can call home, requires the discovery of a story that is shared. In my work with Sound and Soil I will collaborate and work with Sonya Rademery and Kagiso Kekana, the community of Steinkopf, the dancers of the NAMA Group and Sangoma and Inyanga Healers to produce a collaborative soundscape. Additionally, I will document the creative output and healing research of this collaboration in video. Full authorship remains with the community according to Indigenous Research Methodologies.

Marianna Dixon Williams

Ek is Dina Christiaan , gebore en groot geword in Namibia karasburg.My skool loopbaan was nie sukses vol gewees nie, weens klomp ander goed, graad 10, 1999 gemaak in karasburg Namibia En graad 12 2015 senior sertifikaat op Steinkopf hoër gemaak. Engels is ni my sterk punt nie,Namataal is my sterkpunt Ek is n Pa en Oupa kind, my pa het baie vir my stories vertel, ek het begin as kind die ander kinders ook vertel van die stories, en dit was dat ons as kinders n tyd gehat het na skool om stories uit tedeel. My was n musikant, hy het n trekklavier, mondfluit, konsertina en n kitaar gehat, hy het weer musiek vir ons gemaak, en ons het gedans die namastap. My ma was die een wat my geleer namastap dans het, sy was baie streng en wou net he ek moes dinge regdoen. My Oupa het met my gaan jaag, hy was die baie puik en sekuur met alles wat hy gedoen het, ek het by hom geleer van plante, bo en onder gronds. Hy het meeste van sy kos of medisyne in die veld gaan haal, hy het jaag gemaak oo springbokkies en hassies, hy het die vel gevat van die diere en hulle gebrei en riemme gesny en dit vir skoene werk gebruik, my binneste is geprikkel deur dit, ek was as kind baie betrokke by my Pa en Oupa omdat hulle my verstaan het. Van stories en veld het hulle my resitasies ook geleer en ek het n gevoel gekry vir skryf. Ek het n paar gedigte en kinderstories ongepubliseer gelaat. Vir die afgelope 10 jaar met Arts Sports and Culture in kimberly Skrywers fees fasiliteërder gaan verteenwoordig, ek en vertaal ook werke vir instansies. Ek het my nama dansers en dan is ek n Radio Nama omroepster in Okiep vir Radio NFM 98.1, Radio Namakwa Van Covid in gekom het vanaf doen ek recordings en stuur aan dan ook is ek n nama nuus leser. Ek het is nou huidiglik besig met kokerboom Media en Tumsa in samewerking met National Heritage Council Navorsing oor die namas oor hulle diep gebere geskiedenis wat niemand nog van gehoor het nie. My grootse begeerte is dat een van my werke eendag die lug sal sien In kort my storie.

Dina Christiaans

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