Crisis and Response: reactions as intensifiers of crisis

16 Sep 2020

9:00 – 10:30 p.m. (GMT +08:00)

Firdoze BULBULIA

Independent producer, broadcaster, activist, media trainer and Co-founder of Africa’s Best Channel (ABC), Nigeria. South Africa

Award-winning film and media producer, director and trainer; Chairperson of The Children and Broadcasting Foundation for Africa (CBFA) hosted the 5th World Summit on Media for Children in 2007 and produced several multi-media productions for radio and television. Firdoze is an international trainer, producer creating media solutions especially for women and children. She served two mandates as President of the International Centre of Films for Children and Young People -CIFEJ (www.cifej.com). And Co-founder of ABC (Africa’ Best Channel- a children and youth television channel in Nigeria). She has produced 5-feature films and is currently producing a Legacy Project on Former President Nelson Mandela “Mandela’s Africa”. She is the Festival Director of The Nelson Mandela Children’s Film Festival and former Festival Director of Zanzibar International Film Festival (2019)

Cultural reactions and actions in the time of COVID-19 

Abstract: COVID-19 has had a significant impact upon arts and cultural industries across the world, many cinemas have closed, cultural production halted and festivals cancelled. In many places economic plans have not been put in place to respond to or cushion these financial hits faced by cultural institutions, leaving arts centres, artists, filmmakers in desperate need of support. In periods of crisis cultural outputs become key sources of information and expression and are thus a vital component to the response to COVID-19. This paper will focus on this, assessing the impact of COVID-19 on the arts and cultural industries in South Africa, the challenges and the proactive responses and actions undertaken. It will focus on three cultural initiatives emanating from the work of Firdoze Bulbulia, all of which are located in South Africa but have utilised the digital transition during COVID-19 to bring together cross country, cross-cultural and cross-continent collaborations in an effort to connect, discuss and reflect on the impacts of the current pandemic through art. These include Wazi’s Wonderful World, a series of short animations made to raise awareness about COVID-19 for children; #MemoryisaWeapon an ongoing initiative which acts as a platform to bring together real memoirs of women’s stories of resistance and reclamation; and The F-Show an online talk show with guests from all over the world. 

Dr. Cissie FU

Dean of Faculty of Culture + Community, Emily Carr University of Art +Design

Dr. Cissie Fu (AB Harvard; MSt, MSc, DPhil Oxford) is a political theorist and Dean of the Faculty of Culture + Community at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, Canada. She is co-founder of the Political Arts Initiative, which invites 21stcentury political imag-e-nations through digital media and the creative and performing arts, and an editorial board member of Krisis, an international journal for contemporary philosophy based in Amsterdam. She is currently completing a monograph on the politics of silence, towards resuscitating silence as a positive political concept which can articulate and embrace the constructive ambiguities between attachment and detachment in political practices of speech and action.

Beyond Cause and Effect: Natality as a Diffuser/Defuser of Crisis

Abstract: According to Newton’s third law of motion, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Distancing and quarantine, as public health protocol and private safety practice in the current pandemic, invite us to consider non-(inter)action or active restraint as a kind of reaction that can neither neatly nor confidently re-establish equilibrium against the invisible activity of contamination. In these zone-free times of virtual engagement, let’s suspend laws of causality—those of action-reaction that ground social norms we cannot keep and petrify political norms we cannot preserve—to enable conditions of possibility premised on the natality of response which, by breaking the vicious cycle of cause and effect, can reconfigure the spatial and temporal assumptions of rest and motion, arrest and movement, unrest and inertia. This cognitive and physical undertaking is especially apt in moments when intensified reactions render opaque prolonged states of exception in the name of emergency for the sake of crisis management. If the totalising order of decisionism immobilises imagination, let’s pivot to art, not in isolation and not in retreat, but to activate a responsive inquiry that can embrace ambiguity, contradiction, idiosyncrasy and make different things happen.

Full profile

Dr. Sine PLAMBECH

Anthropologist and Visiting Researcher, Yale University

Dr. Sine Plambech is Visiting Professor at Yale University and Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies in Copenhagen. Dr Plambech is an anthropologist and scholar of international migration in particular engaged in questions of critical migration and refugee studies, women’s migration, race and inequality and the representations of these themes through visual anthropology and film making.  

Hotbeds of Corona: Poor Immigrant neighbourhoods hit the hardest

Abstract: The US is currently battling the Corona tsunami, but the newest data reveals a grim reality. Take for instance the 7-train from midtown Manhattan to its terminus in Queens, and you arrive at one of the the US epicentres of Corona – the poor immigrant communities.

The spread of Corona seems to present a global image of our connectedness, interdependencies and inequalities. It sprang from poor market-traders in densely populated areas of China, and then travelled with the globally privileged via airplanes, business and tourism – especially via skiing resorts in Italy and Austria and on cruise ships – before now dispersing into poor neighbourhoods in New York and other disenfranchised places. There is a ‘corona architecture’ at play here that mimics the economic structures of our globalized present.

Full profile

Dr. Gcina MHLOPHE

GCINAMASIKO Arts & Heritage Trust

Gcina Mhlophe is an author, poet, playwright, director, performer and storyteller. Influenced by her grandmother’s tales when she was a child, Mhlophe’s written and performance talent has transported her from South Africa to South and North America to Europe, Greenland and Japan. She has performed her stories in theatres like Royal Albert Hall, the Kennedy Centre in the US and collaborated with Ladysmith Black Mambazo on a children’s CD. She again worked with Ladysmith Black Mamabazo and Francis Bebey quartet in a unique production, Africa at the Opera, which toured Opera houses in Germany. 

Dr. Mhlophe has worked tirelessly running NOZINCWADI Mother of Books Literacy Campaign since 2001, to help make S. Africa a Reading Nation. The Nozincwadi: Mother of Books, is available as a book which is accompanied by a CD that formed the joyful soundtrack of the roadshow. In April 2012 she was awarded her fifth Honorary Doctorate by University of Johannesburg. 

MZANSI MAGIC TV Channel gave her National ICON Award in May 2012. She is currently the Executive Director of GCINAMASIKO ARTS & HERITAGE TRUST , which is the umbrella body where all their other project, SPIRIT OF LIGHT Celebrations, Annual NOZINCWADI Story & Book Festival, Creative Writing Workshops, are hosted and produced. She was awarded her sixth Honorary Doctorate came from Rhodes University in 2014. She is also one of the 21 ICONS in 2015 with the likes of Lillian Cingo, Bishop Tutu, Nadine Gordimer and Tata Mandela. 

She has released several CDs including Songs & Stories of Africa which won a SAMA award and the isiZulu version of the same CD won the PanSALB Award for indigenous languages. IMILOLOZELO, a collaborative CD with Bheki Khoza, Ntakemazolo HP School and Umlazi JP School, was released in an effort to resuscitate the culture of African children’s rhymes and rhythms with jazz music. Latest works include the recording of 2 CD’s – African Mother Christmas & HOPE SONG. Both will help raise funds for the soon to be opened MEMORY HOUSE (Oral History Museum for ordinary South Africans). Dr. Mhlophe received the Kennedy Centre International Artists Gold Award as well as he seventh Honorary Doctorate from the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, in April 2018.

For her work in theatre, she received an OBIE Award in New York for her performance in Born in the RSA. Her autobiographical play, Have You Seen Zandile? would earn her the Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Festival, Sony Award for Radio Drama from BBC Africa, and the Joseph Jefferson Award in Chicago. In 1992 she founded and directed the Zanendaba storytelling company, Johannesburg, RSA. She has received honorary doctorates from the London Open University(UK); University of KwaZulu – Natal; Pretoria University and Fort Hare, for a body of work that has contributed to Literature and helping to preserve the Heritage of African storytelling.

Poetry Performance: Message of Hope

Full profile

Ms. Ndileka MANDELA

CEO, Thembekile Mandela Foundation

Ndileka Mandela, eldest grandchild of Nelson Mandela, is a philanthropist, social activist, humanitarian and the Founder CEO of the Thembekile Mandela Foundation. She is the author of I am Ndileka – More than my surname.

Born in 1965 in Cape Town, a single mother with two children and one granddaughter, she resides in Sandton and has offices in Houghton, Johannesburg. She is a registered Nurse and has a Postgraduate Diplloma in Management from the University of Natal.

She establisheed the foundation named after her father Thembekile (Nelson Mandela’s first child) in 2014 to continue the legacy of her Grandfather in improving the quality of lives of Africans through effective Education, Healthcare, Leadership and Sustainable development.

Hailing from the medical profession, Ndileka Mandela is a qualified ICU nurse with over 15 years of experience in the medical field. She dedicated herself to being at her Grandfather’s side during the last three years of his life, being an interface between the family and his medical team. She is a Councilor on the Board of the Nelson Mandela Museum.

She courageously raised her voice against the corruption in South Africa and called the political and corporate leaders to uphold the values and principles enshrined in the South African Constitution and embodied by her grandfather. In 2018 during the centenary celebrations for Nelson Mandela she launched ”Leading Like Mandela” in collaboration with the Office of the Presidency, United Nations, Africa Forum, University of Johannesburg and The National School of Government. This program strives to improve leadership and governance on the continent towards attaining sustainable development.

She serves in various leadership positions and advocacy roles including Champion for the Global Fund to address HIV/AIDS and TB and Commissioner of Youth and Health for Africa on the Global Assembly Advisory Board of Reset Global and takes a keen interest and role in matters relating to women and children.

She actively drives the legacy programs of the foundation and sustainable development programs through engaging with key stakeholders, senior world leaders, governments, corporate leaders, the youth, civil society and the media.

Personal Reflection

The opinions expressed by the speakers represent their own views, and do not reflect HKBU’s position.


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