Cape Town, 15 February 2021 – On Thursday evening 11 February 2021 , the highly respected and much-applauded producer, playwright, performer and UCT Masters graduate, Siphokazi Jonas opened South Africa’s State of the Nation (SONA) address with adept verse.
Her extraordinarily commanding and affecting What does not sink reading not only spoke to the impact of our biotic reality but more importantly, reminded every South African of our collective resilience in the face of adversity.
Siphokazi Jonas’ work is well-known for its realism and powerful messaging that tackles topics which give a voice to millions unable to expressive them. “My work gives us language and helps us to articulate ourselves,” Siphokazi Jonas contends.
Her most recent stage and short-film production, WeAreDyingHere, three women’s responses to the prevalence of the violent culture of harassment, abuse, rape and femicide in South Africa, continues to receive critical acclaim from around the world.
Brave, committed, patriotic and entirely passionate, Siphokazi is not one to mince her words. “What does not sink is a reflection on the far-reaching effects of COVID. The phycological mass trauma, not only as a country but that suffered by every citizen of the world,” Siphokazi shares.
“What does the future look like? What does it mean?” her poem alludes. The piece insists we can’t simply go back to the way things were. “It considers imagining a new version of us and how we can adapt in all sectors,” she adds. “It’s looking back, reflecting, but also contemplating where we go from here.”
Always innovative through collaboration, Siphokazi understands the power both bring. “My wish is for my poem to be received as a reminder of the importance of community,” she says. “It doesn’t come with easy answers, because we don’t have those. To memorialise and reflect upon those we’ve lost, but also remind ourselves that what we have is each other, the connections, the relationships that help shape our lives.”
As for the opportunity to share her ultimate wish with the country as a guest of The Presidency, Siphokazi points to the power of creativity. “I am pleased that we can use the arts to acknowledge our collective struggle while celebrating the lives lost in the utmost respectful way,” she says, proudly.
Care, respect and empathy, when practised as a people, can support and help overcome even the biggest challenges life throws at us. “If we all do this together, as a community, we will rise above it! Of that I am certain.”
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