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Human Rights

Siyazama: Traditional Arts, Education,
and AIDS in South Africa

Click here to view the online version of the exhibit

Throughout the world art has long been used as a tool for cultural, social, and economic change. In South Africa many educators and activists used performing and visual arts in the successful anti-apartheid movement. Now arts are being used there to educate individuals about the realities of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This exhibition explores how traditional knowledge and skills are used to address contemporary issues in South Africa. It showcases the Siyazama (Zulu for "we are trying") Project, an arts education project based in KwaZulu Natal which uses traditional crafts to raise awareness about AIDS.

As of 2005, 20 million people worldwide have died from AIDS and 39 million people are living with AIDS. In Africa alone, 25 million people are infected and there are 14 million orphans. With 5 million new HIV infections a year, AIDS is an epidemic of disastrous proportions. Over 100 pieces in this exhibit-including indigenous traditional art forms such as beadwork, dollmaking, basketry and wirework-reveal how South African artists are using their work to educate others as well as to cope with the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS in their own lives and communities.


No current bookings.

This exhibition has been displayed at the Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, MI; The African American Performing Arts Center, Albuquerque, NM; Institute for Community Research, Hartford, CT; the Spurlock Museum, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL; and Mathers Museum of World Cultures, Bloomington, IN.

  Rental fee (16-week period): $10,000, plus shipping
  Number of pieces: 63
  Running feet required: approx. 850 square feet, including 200 linear feet of wall space
  Insurance Value: $30,000
  Security requirement: Lockable, limited access display area; provisions to prevent the public from touching objects; object handling by museum professionals; temperature and light controls; fire protection according to local ordinances
  Additional materials available: Press materials

Photo of the installation of the exhibit at the Michigan State University Museum.

Photo of the installation of the exhibit at the Michigan State University Museum.

This traveling exhibition is a Michigan State University Museum, Michigan Traditional Arts Program activity supported by the Andrew J. Mellon Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.




Photo of a Siyazama doll made by Lobolile Ximba in 2003.

PICTURED: Doll, Lobolile Ximba (Zulu), 2003, made in Muden, Msinga region, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
Cloth and beads. 48" x 13" x 10". Photo by Pearl Yee Wong.


Photo of a banner from the Siyazama exhibit.

Photo of the installation of the exhibit at the Michigan State University Museum.

Installation at Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, MI. Photos by Pearl Yee Wong.




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