The Human Chain:‘Everything starts somewhere’Date Released: Mon, 17 February 2014 12:45 +0200
On Friday 21 February The Human Chain event aims to gather 5000 Grahamstown residents, students and scholars along the streets of the town to join hands. The event is intended to honour of the legacy of Nelson Mandela, explained organisers.
Roger Domingo stated that while the event is not a solution, it is intended to be part of a solution: “The Human Chain is viewed as something that can bridge the divide left by the Apartheid architecture of the town but it is also an opportunity for all members of the community to come together and to reflect on the values and ideals of Madiba together.
As one of the ‘A Living Legacy’ projects, the Human Chain aims to join people from Ncame Street in Joza to Somerset Street, which borders the Drostdy Lawns of Rhodes University. “The reason it is being held now is because we feel the university students and scholars at the schools are part of the community and there is a significance of having everyone join hands,” Domingo said.
St Andrew’s College (SAC) and the Diocesan School for Girls (DSG) will both be participating alongside the students of Ntsika Secondary School. “This is an opportunity for us to come together to consider our individual roles to contribute to the community of Grahamstown,” Domingo said.
All of the schools in Grahamstown have been contacted to participate, confirmed Di Hornby, Director of Rhodes University Community Engagement. There are also 15 Non-Goverment Organisations (NGOs) involved in the event and the institutions and religious groups are expected to participate as well.
“We’ve had some negative responses but we cannot look at the magnitude of the problem and let that hold us back,” Domingo said, addressing the criticism of unsustainability that has been levelled at the event. Another criticism of the event is the planned time.
Holding the event between 1 and 2pm on a Friday effectively excludes all practicing Muslims from participating in the main event. “We are looking to address those issues in future and have apologised to the religious leaders for that mistake,” Domingo conceded.
The purpose of the event is to mourn Madiba’s passing, to celebrate 20 years of democracy and to take the time to reconsider our individual participation in the shaping of our society, explained Hornby. “It’s not just up to the government anymore, it’s going to take all of us,” Hornby expanded. “We need to re-imagine our community spaces. There are huge issues and the township is often forgotten.”
In a town burdened by a financially crippled municipality and a massive unemployment rate, Hornby believes that Grahamstown is breaking the mould for South Africa. “In other parts of the country people are rioting but here in Grahamstown we are trying to build something,” Hornby explained. “We can turn Grahamstown around!”
The Human Chain will take place between 13.00 and 14.00 on 21 February 2014.
The route comprises of the following roads:
Should the numbers of participants exceed 5000 the organisers have decided that the route will continue down High Street to the Cathedral and both sides of the streets will be used. Currently only one side of each street will be occupied by the participants.
The participants will gather at 1pm along the route, join hands at 1:30 and spend five minutes in silence. The National Anthem will then be sung after which the participants will move to the Church Square where bands and poets will be performing and boards containing school children and community members’ commitments and memories of Madiba will be on display.
Caption: Di Hornby, Director of Rhodes University Community Engagement is positive about the Human Chain event on 21 February 2014.
Words by Chelsea Haith
IMAGE by: Chelsea Haith