Young artists challenge status quo

Chenal Kock, from Beacon Valley, with David Kramer.

Three young women from Mitchell’s Plain are using their artistic talents to change the status quo.

Describing herself as “mixed-but-not-fixed artist”, Chenal Kock, 24, from Beacon Valley was hand-picked by playwright, singer, songwriter and director, David Kramer for his seven-week “How to construct a musical” masterclass in July.

“David shared some fond memories of himself and the late singer/songwriter Taliep Petersen. We talked about their work and how they managed to work together for many years,” Chenal said.

However, this was not the first time Chenal was flying the flag high for Mitchell’s Plain. In 2017 she received a Kanna award for the best Children’s Theatre Production for her production In die Woud (“Take a bow, Chenal”, Plainsman, June 28 2017).

Last year she did it again, having been selected by the Artscape Theatre Centre to represent South Africa in Liverpool to participate in the European Voluntary Service exchange programme (“Artist to represent SA in Liverpool”, Plainsman, September 19 2018) and this year her character piece, Mama was staged at the theatre (“Mama at the Artscape”, Plainsman, March 27).

“I believe in being the truest and highest expression of yourself in everything you do,” said Chenal.

“I am a mixed-masala. What I do is everything intertwined. I love words and what you can do with words. There is a common connection with words and how we use them when telling a story.”

Harnessing her gift for expression, Chenal wrote a poem in tribute to her mother, Margaret Kock for her funeral on Saturday August 3. Her mother lost her battle with breast cancer on Friday July 26. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2013.

“The six years that followed after (the diagnosis) were life-changing. We’re blessed to have had her surrounded by family in her passing. I am so proud that she got to see my show Mama.

“My mom was a very strong woman and very independent. This is what she instilled in us. She is our greatest love of all,” Chenal said.

Go-getter Chelsea Goliath, 21, from Tafelsig is also no stranger to loss. Chelsea lost her father to lung cancer in December 2015. He was diagnosed in May 2015 and was completely paralysed by October that year.

“It was a challenging time to look after my father. At that time my mom was the breadwinner,” Chelsea said.

She also overcame several challenges in her childhood: “but I always told myself I will get out of this, I will make it in life, striving to be the best in all I do”.

Chelsea’s video of her poem called Mitchell’s Plain went viral on Facebook last year. She said she often experienced discrimination for being from Mitchell’s Plain and this inspired her to write this poem.

“People asked questions about things they have heard about my community. I wondered why people thought about it like that. This needed to change,” she said. 

“After my video people apologised for judging it (the community) the way that they did.”

Chelsea is a full-time, fourth-year Information Systems BComm student at UWC, a poet, youth leader and community worker.

“I never allowed people to dim my light because I am female. We are capable of doing what we need to do, we have a voice. We are able to achieve greatness no matter who we are or where we come from,” she said.

Community and gender activist, Shanice Appels, 21, from Portland runs several community projects, such as The Princess Project, started in 2014, which gives young girls a party on her birthday, May 9 (“Making girls feel like princesses”, Plainsman, May 16 2018) and she holds sanitary towel drives for girls who cannot afford them.

She also joins various organisations at court cases and marches against violence against women and children.

“Social transformation is what I live for. I train people to help themselves so that they can grow and help others,” she said.

Shanice is currently doing an internship at ORT (Obshestvo Remeslenofo Zemledelcheskofo Truda, meaning The Society for Trades and Agricultural Labour) based in Observatory.

Shanice, who is teaching Grade R pupils at Peak Child (for children going places), in Claremont, lost her mom, Sureen Appels to kidney failure in 2007 when she was 9.

Her father, Johan Appels raised her. He is a community worker and City of Cape Town employee and helps her with her activism projects.

Shanice studied for a BA degree in Development Studies and Sociology through Unisa last year but could not finish due to a lack of finances..

She is in the process of registering her organisation as an NGO and wants to open a safe haven for underprivileged children.

“For any child, losing a parent is challenging. My mom was a very strong woman. I was troubled as a young child but decided to get involved in my community. I tried to do the things my mom was never able to do, losing her also inspired me. Had I not lost her I would not have been doing what I am doing.”