The Out of Darkness Project, a joint HRMC and Western Cape Blind Association (WEBA) initiative, began in January 2006 to document and disseminate the life histories of blind South Africans. The proposal was based on research that identified a gap at the South African Library for the Blind in Grahamstown and blind schools nationally for books on the life stories of blind South Africans. The first phase of the project was funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) in the arts, culture and heritage sector.

The twenty interviews cover a range of causes of blindness: Retinitis Pigmentosa, Glaucoma, old age cataracts, childhood diseases like Measles, Marfans disease, accidents including war injuries, and the Condition of Albinism. Our approach is to create a series of four books and in 2009, with additional financial support from Hoskin Consolidated Investments (HCI). We have published the first book in the series with five life stories of men and women with the Condition of Albinism.

The HRMC/WEBA initiative committed to empowering WEBA members in all aspects of project planning, monitoring and implementation. To this end the partners held nine consultative workshops in 2006, two in 2007 and 2008. Capacity building included training: four WEBA members successfully completed the 2004 HRMC's Oral History and Media Training course and in 2006 and 2007 three WEBA members successfully completed training in editing interviews to story format. The twenty interviews were recorded by the partners, HRMC and WEBA, and were transcribed by the Unique Transcription and Translation Unit (UTTU), a project of WEBA.

In a consultative workshop in 2007 the decision was taken to publish all twenty stories because: the storytellers come from different geographic regions (both urban and rural) making it a national project, there is a diverse representation of race, an equal gender balance, and they represent a range of blind conditions. We intend publishing four books.

The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund in the arts and culture division is funding the production of next three books of this series. The second book is focusing on blindness as a result of childhood diseases.

From March 2009, the HRMC held four intensive workshops with the contributors. The workshops have been a space for additional sharing and ironing out of issues. The closeness of the contributors to one another, their willingness to talk openly and face issues, has meant that the sharing of their life stories has been a process of healing. Through this consultative process the contributors had an input and took decision pertaining to the title of their stories, the layout, the cover, the font and the title of book among other things.


Looking Inside

Looking Inside: Five South African stories of people living with Albinism. The life stories held in this book courageously breaks the barriers in our understanding of what is like living with Albinism in South Africa.

The book, Looking inside: Five South African stories of people living with Albinism was launched on 28 November 2009 at the Claremont Congregational Church. The guest speaker was Hendrietta Bogopane Zulu, the Deputy Minister of Public Works. Learners living with Albinism from Athlone School for the Blind attended the launch.

Article published in the Cape Times on 30 Nov 2009


Contents:

  • Introduction – Shirley Gunn and Zukiswa Puwana
  • Dare to Dream – Vuyiswa Kama
  • A Shy Man – Vinkosi Sigwegwe
  • To Be Brave Enough – Nomonde Ngcizela
  • I am a Human Being – Mandisi Bangelo
  • Through Thick and Thin – Lucky Jackson


On the 17 February 2010 held a book launch to a very receptive audience at the Book Lounge in Cape Town. Four of the contributors, Mandisi Bangelo, Lucky Jackson, Vinkosi Sigwegwe and Vuyiswa Kama spoke very beautifully and touched the audience.

Article written by Lesley Cox on 22 Nov 2010
Article published in the City Vision community newspaper on 25 Feb 2010

In March 2010 SAFM read the stories as part of a radio drama series every weekday at 11H45 and again at 23H45. Many people heard the stories on the radio. However protocol was not followed before broadcasting. The HRMC was supposed to sign a contract before the stories were read verbatim but this did not happen. Drama, Artists & Literary Rights Organisation had to waiver the 15% administration fee. As the carriers of the book’s copy rights the Human Rights Media Centre received R87 000 for Royalties from SABC. 54% of this money went to contributors and 46% is earmarked for advocacy work. We have also received copies of the aired stories.

Mandisi and Lucky were invited to participate in SABC’s Keeping it Real live youth program aired on 14 September 2010. We met the producers at our office and spelled out the terms of cooperation. There was a good response to the show and we have received five copies of the televised programme.

In August 2010 Looking Inside was launched at the Tunduro International Arts Festival in Maputo, Mozambique. The two editors Shirley Gunn and Zukiswa Puwana with two contributors, Vinkosi Sigwegwe and Vuyiswa Kama attended the launch. The launch was held outdoors at Jardim Tunduro Botanical Gardens. It was attended by about 100 people including six members of the Association in Defence of our Rights, an association of people living with Albinism in Mozambique. Dr Massango, a medical doctor and writer, wrote a piece on Looking Inside in Portugese. Seydou Camara from Mali, who has worked closely with Salief Keita in Mali took photographs and Vinkosi was interviewed by Radio Mozambique. Seydou also had a photographic exhibition of people living with Albinism on display at the festival. A profound moment at the end of the launch was when the HRMC team, the six members Association in Defence of our Rights. Dr Massango, the English / Portugese translator, Seydou and two journalists stood together in the dark holding hands. This program was funded by Hoskens Consolidated Investments.

In 2011 the book will hopefully be launched at the Zanzibar International Film Festival in July and at the National arts festival in Grahamstown.

The Australian Aid (AusAID) has approved funding for an Albinism anti-discrimination Program in East and Southern Africa. The work entails research, networking, campaigning and lobbying. In 2012, the HRMC will coordinate a conference in partnership with regional stakeholders bringing together participants from both regions. The purpose will be to discuss the regional workshop reports and to develop policy that addresses continental problems for hand-over to the Pan African Parliament.

The Department of Arts and Cultural Affairs, Western Cape has approved partial funding to produce a drama on the Condition of Albinism. After the performances, public discussions will be facilitated by the HRMC. This drama will be developed collaboratively and taken to communities and the National arts festival in Grahamstown. The performance will also be filmed, edited and the DVD will be produced and distributed.

The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund in the arts and culture division is funding the production of next three books of this series. The second book is focussing on blindness as a result of childhood diseases. This book will be launched in April 2011.

 
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