500 signatures reached
To: The President Cyril Ramaphosa. Hon Naledi Pandor and Hon Buti Manamela. Department for Higher Education And Training. Council for Higher Education.
Support Our Youth, CFAD and Nanda Soobben
In South Africa, Education, the Arts and our Economy are strangled through a lack of visionary thinking, stakeholder commitment, and funding. Instead, rampant bureaucracy and corruption rule. Thus unemployment jumped to 27.2% and 102 000 people lost their jobs. The shocking 2 year struggle of the renowned 24 year old Centre for Fine Arts, Animation and Design is one tragic example. Its talented students need urgent solidarity and public interest support to defend their right to education against an uncaring, violent system
An injury to one is an injury to all. This principle is enshrined in the African philosophy Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu - I am because you are. So when injuries of injustice are perpetrated against Dr Nanda Soobben [South Africa’s first black political cartoonist, artist, cultural activist, founder of the Centre for Fine Arts Animation and Design, and the recipient of awards including Amnesty International]; it sends shock waves of horror and anger through people who love this generous being, his groundbreaking work, the iconic CFAD, exceptional alumni, and dedicated students and staff. Former news editor Kaizer Nyatsumba describes Soobben as “… one of this country’s great cartoonists.” He said: “To be counted among its (Apartheid’s) innumerable sins is the fact not only that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of our darker-hued South Africans’ innate talents lay undiscovered, un-nurtured and, therefore, unutilised or under-utilised; but there is the ignoble fact that there are many others whose talents were not allowed to be displayed before a bigger audience and to flourish. It was such talents’ fate to blossom unseen, unappreciated and without being accorded the recognition and praise due to them”. In Soobben’s second book titled “Witness to a Decade”, the late activist and sociologist Prof Fatima Meer said: “Nanda Soobben is the first cartoonist emerging from the previously disadvantaged communities of the apartheid era. His work is in itself a measure of our achievements as a democracy in the last decade.”
Founded in the dawn of democracy, the CFAD is a renowned institute that is dedicated mainly to the poor and working class. In 2016, after the CFAD experiencing crime through 5 robberies, Dr Soobben was told by our publicly funded Department of Higher Education and Training [DHET] that CFAD's registration is canceled, and that he must close the college and send talented, poor and disabled students away. And if that was not traumatic enough, 2 million rands in student bursary funds never arrived. This is the state of education in our country. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela would be ashamed. After submitting a new, expensive registration application in 2017, CFAD is now experiencing accreditation obstacles due to unfair, unrealistic and impractical demands by our Council of Higher Education.
It is frighteningly clear that our education system is in a meltdown and needs crisis intervention:
So why then are certain institutions - passionate about arts or education - being strangled by the very people/bodies we should trust? They should support us and not treat us like the enemy. Why can't we work together for the sake of of our youth and our country? What did the students of Soweto 1976 sacrifice their lives and limbs for?
See what CFAD students say in these short, powerful videos:
Final year student: https://web.facebook.com/thiruna.pather/videos/o.1725755987494100/2041484712606861/?type=2&theater
Student from our beautiful continent: https://web.facebook.com/keenan.naidu.5/videos/o.1725755987494100/865488950302022/?type=2&theater
Physically challenged student: https://web.facebook.com/thiruna.pather/videos/2041522045936461/
Autistic child genius: https://web.facebook.com/thiruna.pather/videos/o.1725755987494100/2039008036187862/?type=2&theater
Education, we are told, is a human right enshrined in our Constitution while our Freedom Charter declared that "The Doors of Culture and Learning Shall Be Opened." We must all strive to uphold empowering and practical learning in South Africa, the most unequal country in the world.
Our urgent public interest appeal for mercy and justice is simple:
1. CFAD's immediate accreditation reinstatement and registration
2. Replace counterproductive bureaucracy with vision & support
3. Payment of bursaries promised to CFAD, and other institutes
4. Investment into all institutions of learning, including the arts
5. End corruption in all bodies entrusted to promote education
#StandWithSoobben #CFADmustRISE #WeAreCFAD
#HumanRights #Arts #Education
Why is this important?
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere". Martin Luther King. When shortsighted, autocratic decisions are made that destabilise education or weaken the arts; then valuable spaces for creative ideas, youth empowerment, community engagement, economic prosperity and freedom of expression are sabotaged. Who benefits, and what can we do?
This is an impassioned post from Dr Nanda Soobben's social media profile in 2017:
"Am I being targeted or victimised !! I was robbed four times when I was in Cowey Road. I had to move to the Smart Exchange Building in Walnut Road.When we moved to the Smart Exchange, the DHET suspends our Accreditation because we didn't have our Students Data Base. Which was stolen in the robberies with all our computers. So we set up a new Data Base and Appeal and get reinstated. Then a few weeks later we get suspended again because we moved and we did not give them a Health and Safety Report. We get that done within the specified time and sent to them with the waybill to prove it. We have not heard anything from them. They say the appeal is pending but we are still suspended. We had to put all our new students on hold. To top it all, we didn't get paid R2 million rand in bursaries for 30 students who were not sent home by us but were all allowed to graduate. We have an Education Crisis in this country and we are being stifled. In 2012 we were named an Institute Of Excellence. We have a 95% success rate in placing our students. Agencies call us and book our students. I put my own career on the block to run this school. Damn, I am just so tired and disappointed.”
Here are a few of many responses to this struggle for the arts, education and social justice:
Please don't give up Sir. You are a moral beacon in this amoral society. Kiru Kesh Subramunier
Absolutely pathetic. They strangle everything with Red Tape to enrich themselves. Tania Steyn
This is an excellent college which has run for 23 years, producing animators, designers and artists that make a real contribution to communication and to the economy. Why are we being messed around like this? Is it a result of the failure of a trickle down system, where the people who do the work get little, and the admin people get the lion's share? Rick Andrew
This is highly disappointing. Our country is in the hands of fools and vampires. Menzi Maseko
Don't give up dear Nanda in a sea of incompetence and corruption you are the beacon for these students and you are giving them entrance to a bright future. Hang in there. Satish Dhupelia
I am really sorry to hear this Nanda. What an injustice to you and your school that is making a valuable contribution. I have known your school for a number of years and am fully aware of the wonderful work you are doing. The quality of your students is a high standard. Rajendran Thangavelu Govender
Disturbing news. Students need education. Governments are destroying the system. Lallitha Jawahirilal
You have an awesome setup and offer students a fantastic opportunity to create a lifetime career for themselves. This is so disappointing, having said that, I'm not surprised. Garth Van Den Bergh
I am sorry to hear this Nanda. Third Force is at play again. Leslie Naidu
Governments will come and go but red tape is here forever. Mfana Kubheka
You know as a student of history that those that tell the truth will always be persecuted by those who do not want the truth to be told. Obviously you are doing something right. Malcolm Shunmugam
All will be Good. Even though I'm @ my Wits End regards our Poor Family & Friends who have for decades been disenfranchised constructively! Vivian Naidoo
You shall survive this too Nanda Soobben. Have no doubt. You have the blood of a Fighter and the support of many many friends. Stay strong my friend. Faieza Ali Khan
This is bad news for us as students, am sure there's something we can do to help you sir, in that way we'll be helping ourselves as well as those who still want to study at your school. Leonidus Leo Lionel
So very sorry to hear this Nanda. I know how hard you've worked to get to where you are. I also know how high you set the bar on standards for your students. It seems the harder we try, harder it gets. Shamilla Vaid
RED TAPE bullshit! Most government entities lack the intrinsic ability or understanding to see the wood for the trees. Personally, job creation could be made possible if we just remove the Red Tape mentality! Hansa Bharath
Shameful! Bureaucracy first, students last. Is DHET not aware of the splendid work you are doing? Ronnie Govender
Sigh. sorry to hear. Anything that is truly creative is hated by the rich and the powerful. Cos none of them are, and they feel threatened by it yes? Hope all comes right soon! Muna Lakhani
When we speak about colossal figures who are so humble I think of this giant of a man, Nanda Soobben. South Africa must wake up to this gift we have been blessed with and support him with all we have. Langley Gregory
Thank you for standing with CFAD & our daughter & 100s of students' futures! Sheraine Reddy
CFAD has a vital role to play in the lives of young people and our economy. Kathrine Fenton-May
Hang in there. You are one of the best, doing sterling work for your students. Shan Moodley
Strength & Honour. We are with you! Shabnam Palesa Mohamed
How it will be delivered
Email to our President, Ministers; SAHRC, DHET and CHE. Public press conference.
CFAD is More Than An Art School. It is a 24 year old tree of life, ideas, creativity, arts, education, community and empowerment. We need solidarity via moral support/campaign involvement. If you can sponsor bursaries/donate stationery towards underprivileged/disabled students, or if you want to write to the president/ministers in support of arts/education, connect via 031 207 2350/[email protected]