Constitution Hill Human Rights Festival: A Highlight on Children’s Rights

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Constitution Hill hosted its 6th edition festival, commemorating the 21st of March – Human Rights Day – however this year had extra days, inciting four days of activism, topical debates, and reflection.

South Africa has been tethered to a very distasteful and heart-wrenching history, so it was delightful to witness having children roam around with their happy feet. They gifted the space an opportunity to have a moment to acknowledge that the Sharpeville massacre was not in vain but has been an important cornerstone for this moment.

Different age groups and organisations showed up differently for their rights, considering this, SA Positive News shines a light on organisations that have children as their focal point.

Speaking to Futhi of Play Africa who is a resident at Constitution Hill, he explained how the organisation centres on creating an environment for the kids to be in career mode and explore that. Play Africa has typewriters, an engineering station, voting station, with empowering short sentences of human rights for the little humans to grow up knowing their rights and being affirmed in that. This is where playing, creativity, and the professional world meld into one.

Lalela is another very interesting non-profit organisation that “provides educational arts for youth from under-resourced communities to spark creative thinking and awaken the entrepreneurial spirit”. This was shown through their stall and interaction with the children and art.

Under the entertainment section there was ASSITEJ South Africa which is a network body promoting theatre for children and young children. This organisation gave an incredible performance for the audience, showing skill and talent with dedication and enthusiasm.

Another organisation, Sir Alba Tutoring and Arts Academy, is a Tutoring and Arts company that specialises in training and development in drama, dance, music, visual arts, facilitation and turning services.

Amagidangoma Okhethelo is an all-female Zulu traditional dance group,

Amagidangoma Okhethelo means “those who dance by choice”, led by Soul City Institute’s FLAC fellow, Makhosemvelo Mthembu.

The group stems from recognising the often-exclusionary rules and guidelines in reed dances and other traditional groups. Mthembu has created a safe space for girls and young women who might not be virgins or conform to heterosexual norms. Hailing from Palmridge, in the south of Ekurhuleni, the group uses performance arts to shine light on social issues such as GBVF and raise the feminist consciousness of young people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to the movement.

Amid this edutainment were talks and discourse of on-the-ground issues faced by children and young people, Bright Spark Foundation, hosted by Welcome Witbooi, who emphasised “Putting together an Anti-bullying programme that will encourage learners of all grades to see the value of expressing compassion, empathy and care toward each other. Bright Spark Foundation has other projects that focus on GBV-affected kids, Eyethu Sound Factory, which is an initiative of art expression, where they are in collaboration with Henley Business School to make this possible. In their Mentso learnership program, the foundation gives attention to learners who have matriculated to get a paid learnership working in the mining sector.

The 21st to the 24th of March 2024 was a testament that yes, freedom has been a steep hill to climb but the milestones have manifested, because of organisations and companies that facilitate and hold space for change.

Photojournalism by Hlengiwe Lesedi