South Africa is alive with possibilities. This year the South African deaf community in partnership with SABC3 and Dtv, the only Deaf Magazine programme on National TV invite you to be part of Zwakala, the national deaf poetry and drama competition.
Zwakala coincides with International Deaf Awareness week, and serves as a tool to create awareness of this silent minority that is cut off from the hearing world due to prejudice, lack of tolerance and understanding.
Dtv’s national poetry and drama competition for Deaf learners, reach all the schools for the deaf in South Africa. It provides a platform where Deaf youth can express their feelings, their fears, and their hopes through the performing arts.
Following the huge success of our Madiba birthday card concept, 2007 saw a poetry competition with learners expressing their thoughts on deafness. Unsurpassed positive response came from hearing and deaf viewers as well as the media.
The following was said:
• Dali Mpofu, the then GCEO of the SABC, “We all know that people with disabilities are often victims of neglect and abuse. This is a direct attack on their human dignity. We are committed to, not only providing basic facilities for the deaf community, but to fight together to restore their human dignity.”
• Prof Keorapetse Poet Laureate, “Having worked on this with a few colleagues, as judge, I think I learned a few things that perhaps hearing people should learn – the basics of Sign Language. This will open windows into that world.”
During the years 2008-2010 Zwakala grew to be a strong brand supported by the Department of Arts and Culture, Deafsa and Pansalb. In 2009/10 Zwakala won the Pansalb multilingual award for the promotion and development of South African Sign Language on Television. Chris Swepu said “Your work is immaculate.”
As director of Deaf education Ingrid Parkin said. “I would like to commend you and your team for the outstanding success of Zwakala. The evening was a truly inspiring showcase for South African Sign Language and the development of Deaf literature and poetry – an area that greatly needs much development. The improvement in the output quality of this year’s contestants in comparison with last year’s was astounding and this bears testimony to the fact that Zwakala is fuelling the development of Deaf South African storytellers and poets: it will go from strength to strength, of that I am sure. It has been my utmost pleasure to have been involved with Zwakala and I am very happy to continue being involved in any way that you and your team may need.”
Maybe the best proof of the success of Zwakala is that 2008 winner; Darren Rajbal went on to win SA’s Got Talent, a mainstream competition.