Pupils create artworks for peace

At the back, from left, are Hannah Mackay Leslie 10, from Constantia, Aaliyah Hoosen, 10, from Rocklands, and Thandile Sokhatsha, 13, from Khayelitsha. In the middle are Zaeedah Rakiep, 13, from Woodlands, community art counsellor Vivienne Abrahams Aliveriotis and Kiano Antonio, 13, from Tafelsig. In front are Fernando Alden, 11, from Woodlands, Stacey January, 10, from Salt River, and Leah Beeby, 8, from Tafelsig.

The artworks of dozens of Mitchell’s Plain pupils have added their voice to an international children’s call for peace.

More than 30 pupils’ drawings, paintings and sketches form part of the International Children’s Art Collection, by Art with Heart Africa, on display at the Castle of Good Hope, which coincides with the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls.

The 16 Days of Activism campaign runs every year from November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, until December 10, Human Rights Day.

At the official launch of the exhibition on Sunday November 25, Aaliyah Hoosen, 10, a Grade 4 pupil, at Yellowwood Primary School in Eastridge, was one of about 10 pupils, from across Cape Town, who read a prayer and lit candles for the millions of children who have died across the world.

Aaliyah, who won a gold award in the Western Cape Education Department’s (WCED) visual art competition last year, called on the community to take hands and call for peace. “Say no more gangsterism. More peace,” she said.

Aaliyah said she was happy that her work was on display: “I like that people like my painting because that means I can paint nice.”

The roving exhibition includes work by children from other African countries, Turkey, France, Seychelles and Pakistan.

Another Grade 4 pupil, from the Eastridge school, Kiano Antonio, whose work is also on display said it was nice to see his work on show for the first time. “I learned that people must not be abused, that gangsterism, shooting, stabbing and killing must stop,” he said.

Kiano, who witnessed violence often in his community, said he felt happy when he drew but found painting difficult.

He and Thandile Sokhatsha, a Grade 7 Westville Primary School pupil, had taken top honours in the WCED’s visual art exhibition this year.

Their art teacher Mark Jen-neker, who volunteers his time at both schools, said he was proud of the hundreds of pupils he worked with daily. “It shows that Mitchell’s Plain children can express themselves in a creative way and showcase their work on a platform like (this at) the Castle, outside of Mitchell’s Plain,” he said. “From here they can just grow and they can learn that there is a value to their art. They can also inspire other Mitchell’s Plain kids to up their game and be a part of something bigger.”

Mr Jenneker said many of the children he worked with came from broken homes, single-parent households and gang- and drug-infested and violent communities.

“While I teach, I talk to them about love, manners, religion and give them of my time, which not many children get from their parents,” he said. It is heartbreaking to see the circumstances many children come to school from.”

Community art counsellor Vivienne Abrahams Aliveriotis, who curated the exhibition and is also a member of the International Women’s Peace Group, said the children had not been given a brief. “It is a visual narrative, where people can converse about something they can relate to. It brings people together, where they can talk the same language, wherein the message of peace is sent,” she said.

Ms Abrahams-Aliveriotis said peace was an attitude.

“Like I say to the children during art counselling sessions, wherein I promote art with a conscience – ‘when you think peace, you do peace. You are at peace and that starts with us’,” she said.

The artwork of pupils from Erica and Belhar primary schools in Belhar; Holy Cross Orphanage, in Parow; The Children’s Art Centre at Holy Cross, Zonnebloem girls’ and boys’ in Zonnebloem; Rahmaniyeh Primary in Walmer Estate; Butterfly Art Project, in Muizenberg; and the Mark Jenneker Foundation in Mitchell’s Plain will be on show at the Foundry section of the Castle of Good Hope in the city centre, everyday from 9am until 4pm until Monday December 10.