Art, Journeys from Members of Artist Proof Studios

Peacebuilding and the Arts
The International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life at Brandeis University
Recasting Reconciliation through Culture and the Arts
A Virtual Collection
Art, Ubuntu, and Reconciliation:
Journeys from Members of Artist
Proof Studios
Student Journals
By Daniel Stompie Selibe
Brandeis International Fellow
Copyright Brandeis University and Daniel Stompie Selibe 2003-2004
Brandeis University, 415 South Street, MS 086, Waltham MA 02454
781-736-5001 Fax 781-736-8561
Ubuntu, both meaning humanity, has been living with us since mankind, because
ubuntu is another moral that we as humans use to communicate, respect, love, and help
each other. Ubuntu gives people a positive attitude, strength, and open minded towards
others and goals. The old man represents and respects ubuntu.
In the past it was unheard of for orphans to be homeless or in the streets because they
were protected by the extended family system, even if their parents had died. These days,
however, things have changed dramatically. Extended families are no longer as tightly
knit as they used to be.
Student Journals
The ubuntu project that we are dealing with, started early in 2004 March. It was a
concept basically to help individuals, especially youth, to realize that comparing, taking
things for granted and judging people. Meaning that the negative attitude its getting
power to drain down individuals. Last year the first and original Artist Proof Studio was
attacked by fire, leaving us with complete catastrophe. The fire cost us a life of a true
member, a great artist.
Student Journals
Even the uncles and cousins are sometimes infected with the dreaded disease.
Unemployment, economic demands and pressures are also some of the factors that
discourage people from taking in their orphaned nieces and nephews. On the other hand
people, especially black South Africans, who are able to open their hearts and houses to
orphans, are not doing so simply because they are not the biological parents of these kids.
The fire cost us a life of a true member, a great artist. This is one factor which has made
our white compatriots surpass us in terms of ubuntu. White South Africans are much
more open to adoption than blacks are. They have even gone a step further and have
begun to take in black children who are suffering.
We have all witnessed how Nkosi Johnson was adopted by Gail Johnson. She was
prepared to go to court to keep custody of her adopted son. More and more white South
Africans are adopting black kids and giving them surnames and inheritances. We will not
convince the world with our ubuntu culture if we do not open our hearts and homes to
oprhans we will actually be creating a bigger problem for ourselves if we do not adopt, as
most of these children may end up on the streets as prostitutes or criminals.
Student Journals
Our biggest stumbling block is the obsession with being the biological parents of our
offspring. How many of our people agnoise over the fact that they are unable to bear
children of their own? This has brought great strain to their marriages and often leads to
If only they could open their hearts to adopt the countless number of orphans, who
have no homes, God would give them the satisfaction of being parents. Thank god that
Joseph agreed to adopt the son of the most High God, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Had he
refused, he would have missed the honour of being Father to the Saviour of the whole
world. Are we not missing out on parenting the future, Mandelas the presidents of
Student Journals
Personal Experience
Ubuntu does exist, people do have ubuntu within themselves. This year 2004 was
very difficult and painful for me because I lost a very important person in my life, my
sister. She was my friend, my inspiration, she was only 25 years old and from childhood
we were together until this stage. Now I have to face the world on my own. I didn’t think
she would be gone so soon. I always ask god why her, why this year, why not after 60
years, why do god confiscate her now?
The death of my sister made me realize that death can strike any time. That’s when I
started thinking I’m not alone, I was surrounded by ubuntu from my friends, APS
members, neighbours, and my relatives. People were coming and going non-stop, sending
their condolences, telling us that we are not alone everything will be okay, that’s when I
started feeling ubuntu spirit. Ubuntu helped me slowly surely to rebuild my spirit, it
helped me to accept the fact that she is gone, but one thing for sure her spirit will always
be with us.
Student Journals