SUPPER CLUB ‘Finding Voices’ – Marcus Solomon

Thursday 25 APRIL 2019, 18h00

This month’s Supper Club guest is Marcus Solomon, who is particularly well-known in recent years for his unfaltering commitment to children’s rights – particularly the rights of young girls. However, Marcus has a much longer history of struggle (see brief bio below) and we are very pleased that he has agreed to be the Museum’s Supper Club guest speaker for April.

Please join us for an evening of delicious food and good conversation on:

Thursday 25 April 2019

18h00 – 20h30

District Six Museum Homecoming Centre, 15 Buitenkant Street

Cost: R 150 (R130 if prepaid) / R 75 for children

Enquiries and bookings: Chantal – reception@ / 021 4667200

Advance bookings can also be made through Quicket

Introducing Marcus Solomon

Marcus Chinasamy Solomon was born in Grahamstown in 1939 of working-class parents. He started schooling there and later completed his high school and teachers’ training at the Trafalgar High School in 1961. It was during his time at the Teachers’ Training College that he became politically active.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s he was active in various student and political organisations including the Cape Peninsula Students Union (CPSU), the Non-European Unity Movement and the African People’s Democratic Union of Southern Africa (APDUSA).

In 1961 he helped to launch the National Liberation Front (NLF), an underground organisation aimed at overthrowing Apartheid by means of armed struggle. In August 1963 he was detained for three months. In October 1963, he was formally charged together with ten others, for conspiring to overthrow the South African by means of armed struggle. In April 1964, after a trial of seven months, they were found guilty. He was sentenced to ten years imprisonment, all of which time he served on Robben Island. On being released in April 1974, he was banned and placed under house arrest for five years.

Ever since his release from prison in 1974 he has been a political and community activist. From being involved in community housing struggles, education, the formation of the UDF and more recently, in his activism for children’s rights, Marcus has committed his life to the struggle of people for freedom.

He truly represents one of the many living archives in our country, and we look forward to his Supper Club reflections emerging from his wealth of experience. Issues of identity have always surfaced in different ways and in different forms over the years, and Marcus is keen to share some thoughts and provoke discussions on the nature of our complex South African identity.

About the District Six Museum Supper Club

With its origin story firmly located in the practice of oral narratives, the District Six Museum is often described as an entity which ‘gives voice’ to people who have been rendered voiceless. Most times the people being referred to are those who have been displaced under Apartheid.

While acknowledging the affirmation that might be intended by that perspective, we self-identify somewhat differently, always believing that people have voices and express themselves regardless of whether organisations such as the District Six Museum exist or not. We see ourselves more on the level of creating opportunities for listening, and offering platforms for the existing voices of people to be heard, amplified and supported. It seeks out stories that are already in circulation, in order to strengthen its own understandings of what it means to be a platform for multiple and even discordant voices.

The difference might seem trite and subtle, but it is an important one which keeps us from speaking on behalf of people and usurping their voices. Hence, this 2019 theme signals our conscious attempt to actively find different voices.

The District Six Museum Supper Club is entering its fifth year of existence. It flowed from an exploration of the many ways in which ‘homecoming’ could be practically interpreted in actualising the intention of the Homecoming Centre. The common symbolism of community and sharing inherent in the idea of tables is referenced here: round-tables, ‘sitting around the table together’, the long-table concept, combined with the Cape Town practice of ‘gooi ‘n tafel’. This literally, means ‘throw a table’ (as in ‘throw a party’) and is particularly familiar to people from District Six and the Bo Kaap. It references the tables that were laid out by families  for Christmas Choirs, Malay Choirs and Minstrels during the Christmas and New Year holiday period.  Laden with seasonal fruit like watermelon as well as pastries and cakes, the tafels were decidedly celebratory, signalling the culmination of the year-long preparation of rehearsals, voice-training and costume-making.

Tables are thus evocative symbols for the District Six community representing coming together, sharing, arguing, breaking bread and storytelling around a common space. Tables also reference the intimate family rituals around food, work and religion that were performed in District Six homes before destruction, on a daily basis.

The District Six Museum’s Supper Club concept emerged from a desire to create opportunities for conversations of all kinds: enlightening, entertaining, philosophical, lyrical, visual or performative. It is intended to bring people together who might ordinarily not have met, and also create opportunities for friends to meet up with each other. It aims to contribute to a culture which encourages the expression of different points of view in a space which is contained and supportive.      

Past Supper Club storytellers have been very diverse. They have included Diana Ferrus, Prof Njabulo Ndebele, Ernestine Deane, Terry Fortune, Basil Appollis, Trevor Jones, Auriol Hayes, George Hallett, Tina Schouw, Jitsvinger and Fatima Dike and Prof Saths Cooper, amongst others.

Storytellers are invited to share their stories in whichever  way they wish, and guests attending the session are invited to listen and to later engage in conversations with the storyteller and with each other. Conversations continue over supper and dessert. Hopefully friendships and engagements will continue beyond the evening.

The 2019 iteration of the Supper Club series  is called ‘Finding Voices.’