Creative spaces in the capital city that is Pretoria are few and far between, so we create them. They may be temporary, they may be permanent, but WE create them. From the poetry, live music, the markets, photography and more, artists in Pretoria have taken initiative, engaging with their communities and the rest of the world. It is Our City, we transform it. CAR (Capital Arts Revolution) is a collective of artists aimed at rejuvenating selves through teaching an ideology of love and self-emancipation. The artists are part of society, not detached from it. Deeply rooted in the identity and collective history of Africa, CAR is about people, not corporations nor the state. The arts constitute one of the various ways through which CAR makes this revolution in identities possible.
A collective of like-minded individuals descend upon the Capital theatre in Pretoria Central. Recapitoli, a one day annual festival is running for the second year and it’s bigger. In collaboration with the University of Pretoria, ProHelvetia and Pretoria Street photography CAR hosted this event that was free for all to partake in. Recapitoli features a public forum with a panel of scholars, musical performances, poetry, photography and more. It is part of a larger aim to have an inclusive city, transforming the Capital Theatre is only the beginning. For this one day the Capital Theatre becomes a space of creativity, no longer a parking lot. Through events such as this CAR transcends Pretoria and even the borders of South Africa. The movement has been represented across S.A and in countries such as Mozambique, Botswana and France.
Sunnyside, a lively place that is home to many artists that come from all over across South Africa and the rest of Africa, is fortunate to be the place where 523 De Kock street is located: U- the Space. It is a community library, music scene, art gallery, your above average Tea spot. It is the terminal of CAR.
Walking in through gates that preach Love and freedom, one will realize that this is not an ordinary space. The walls are filled with photographs and paintings by local artists. The front yard is defined by the couches and chairs that have heard so much dialogue, poetry and music that their presence speaks to you of memories that you could have been part of. To the south of the yard one will find the open doors to a house that commands respect. There will be people in there playing guitars, reading about Sankara, Lumumba or Biko. There will be a refreshing aroma; have tea, have a vegetarian burger, go outside and see where your food comes from – a happy vegetable garden. On a Sunday afternoon, you will be exposed to live music sets in the language of Love by the likes of Sisa Sopazi, Thandi Ntuli, Tumi Mogorosi, Nono Nkoane, Sibusile Xaba, Nduduzo Makhathini, Lally Tshabalala and many more.
U-Space is host to some of the most vibrant interactions between like-minded, progressive and revolutionary people. This revolution need not be defined by the taking up of arms, but the transformative activities we engage in our lives, the lifestyles we adopt in reinvigorating the prowess and strength of our identities; it is in the ways in which we become responsible for socio-cultural change.
U-Space leads in this regard by virtue of being an arts hub that provides an environment that is conducive to innovation, education, knowledge production and more. Pretoria is undergoing an exciting transformation in the arts and everyday life, CAR is at the centre of this. There is a revolution happening, don’t fall behind.
Photography: Emmanuel Munano