CreatepreneurAfrica – Cape Town filmmaker Kurt Orderson conquers the world with ‘Azania Rizing’

Cape town filmmaker, Kurt Orderson explored artistic expression in his early lifetime beginnings. After mastering crafts of his creations from his backyard in the Cape 'ghettos'(beyond Table Mountain),he ventured out into the world, rising up to becoming one of Africa's leading filmmakers.

Kurt initiated his career during his studies as a trainee at the SABC, ( South African Broadcasting Corporation), earning mere stipends for daily living expenses.

He defined his unique aesthetic voice and was soon acknowledged as a director and cinematographer on several key productions.

He founded his independent production company, “Azania Rizing”.

“Azania Rizing” is a tool for the African diaspora to rise up and map African legacies around the world on a global storytelling platform.

His major works include:

  •  Definition of Freedom, examining the role of  Hip Hop in South Africa. It was screened at the Toronto and Vancouver  hip-hop festival  winning the best documentary award at the Atlanta Hip hop film festival
  •  Tribute to Lucky Dube, the tribute to legendary reggae artist Lucky Dube was filmed in South Africa, London, and Jamaica. It was awarded the Best Documentary  Award at the  Silicon Valley African Film Festival in  2013.
  • The Pan-African Express, a journey of six young men, students from Atlanta who travel to  South Africa and trying to understand people living with  HIV and Aids. The film was funded by The Oprah Winfrey Foundation.
  • Eldorado, a feature chronicles the journey of four friends in a Gauteng township in South Africa. It won the Special mention South Africa Feature film at the  Durban International Film Festival in 2011
  •  Breathe Again,  features Derrick Orderson, a marginalized swimmer from the  Cape Flats who rose above his livelihood in an abnormal society of inhumane prejudice. It was screened at the Encounters film festival and Durban International Film Festival and several film festivals worldwide.
  • The Prodigal Son 
  • Visibly Invisible

“The Unseen Ones”

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds” Bob Marley

Current Projects

Not in My Neighborhood explores spatial violence, current gentrification and the post-apartheid era. It compares Cape Town , Johannesburg and New York uncovering the threads that exist between people that are miles apart.

 

Picture for the documentary Not in my Neighborhood. September 2016 – São Paulo – Brazil

#CreateoreneurAfrica – The Soul Journey of Kurt Orderson

Tell us what drives you? What is your true passion in life?

What drives me is ultimately the great history and achievements of Africa, and I guess also within a broad order global perspective is my people that inspire me and drive me. I am from South Africa, a very specific region in South Africa, Cape Town.

More specifically I am from a township from that is part of a strip of what would be known as the “ghettos”,  the Cape Flats, there is a rich history of storytelling, a great significance of the epicenter of what the foundation of the space, basically built on the legacy of apartheid. The legacy of architectural and apartheid spatial planning ideally separated people  (which was an actual policy with the group areas act ) that had a great significance of breaking up families, literally…… families scattered.

I think what maintains a traditional oral form of storytelling, obviously remained significant, it inspired my body of work ultimately that’s my drive, Africa’s history, Africa’s achievements. One is inspired by  Africa’s legacy, the epicenter of academia and  Timbuktoo…storytelling and the arts and crafts of storytelling ultimately started there and spread across the globe.

My true passion….well I am very passionate about just listening, sitting and listening to people telling stories, whether happy or sad,  ultimately passion for me personally, is driven by a deep desire of wanting to change the landscape of..change  how people perceive each other. I think it’s those stories of those people who done it in the past and are still doing it, that’s what drives my passion. I am inspired by their passion, I think I apply it to my life.That for me is what passion is. Passion goes deeper, the engine or driving force for one to do something. I think ultimately wanting to do something is ultimately passion…the driving force…

How did you find your passion and how old were you?

How did I find my passion….well that’s an interesting question? I think for me when I finished high school, I was definitely inspired by the visual medium and visual arts. There was obviously the influence of television and Hollywood tv,  I guess, but also my parents influenced me.

My father was a screen printer, which is ultimately a visual artist, although he didn’t call himself that, based on conditioning of the system that shaped him, apartheid South Africa. The idea that you were limited to do certain things when it comes to art black folks were deprived in a large historical moment of what the status quo says what you do and what you can become. My father is a strong reference to creating images and applying it to a t-shirt, applies similarly script to screen.

I think its an interesting analogy, metaphor for making films, taking a rich traditional medium and applying it to my work. I think that is how I found my passion.

How old was I?   I think my first reference to start noticing…I don’t know if I can say noticing, more where I picked up the idea that I was passionate about the visual medium, I think I was maybe thirteen years old or fourteen…..

I was locked out of my parent’s house, of course. That time there were no cellphones. I’m from a family of a family of five kids, my parents both worked, I was locked out one day.  I went to the backyard, my father had a workshop in the back of the yard, and I found a hammer and flat nose screwdriver.

I used the hammer and flat nose to carve out my name on a piece of wood and was quite impressed by myself. Wow, no one before that necessarily initiated anything like that. I wasn’t exposed to artistic expression and multiple forms of what artists do, I carved out my name, varnished it and made it immaculate. Later on meeting people who carved for a profession, creating amazing things. I always reference my first carving, that was my flame of inspiration for being an artist, use a visual medium for storytelling.

What about your passion appeals to you the most? 

What about my passionate appeals to me the most… I guess the privilege to being a filmmaker, that being my passion but also to add to that, I feel very blessed to basically get paid for my passion, for my hobby… I would say …because we love film so much I  will do it for free, that’s how deep our passion for cinema lies…and getting paid to do something you love, your passion is a heavy blessing.

What appeals to me most is the idea of  shared history and shared knowledge, when someone allows you into their household to tell you their stories…. you being inspired and, relating on a level of  “oh I knew someone who had a similar idea about this or that .”

 I think that is what the driving force is …..sharing communal space, sharing narratives, sharing stories,  sharing politics, sharing knowledge….that for me a strong appeal to my passion…

What drove you to make money from your passions?

What drove me to make money out of my passion…well you know in real talk, not to romanticize the question too much. We, unfortunately, live in a very capitalist society, we inherited capitalism,, were born into a capitalistic society…..that on one level, right,, that reality of things, we need to eat right, we need to sustain ourselves… in terms of monetary exchange we apple or tomato,whatever……what well I just realised that my craft, my talent, my blessing, I can get paid for it.

For me, there was a strong driving force around craft, like crafting what is my voice, what is my aesthetic, what does Kurt bring across in a common sharing space as a filmmaker as a storyteller. It was first defining my voice, after defining that idea, that is when I felt to make money.

People  want to hire you, because they want that aesthetic that you ideally represent, that was my passion for making art and getting paid for my art, as an independent filmmaker, as an African filmmaker, things are rough out there…and we want to tell our own stories on our own terms, the system itself makes it very difficult for us to sustain ourselves. I need to work like a plumber who works with tools and I need to buy those tools. That is the reality of things

When was the first time you were paid for your passion?

The first time I got paid for something… I can’t recall exactly when that was when that moment was…there was a few moment I think. I think  I worked on a television show and I was a contestant, but I also worked on a show. It was a show on SABC2, I was like 18 or 19.

We were trainees and there was a little  stipend that they paid us for traveling money or whatever. It was for generic work on set like organizing cables and assisting the floor, production. I remember very little , but that’s when I realised you can get paid for this. I was still studying at that time as well.

 What kept you going when you thought about giving up?

What kept me going. I have come through multiple crossroads moments asking myself is this really sustainable, what I do, filmmaking? Filmmaking is really hard, difficult, expensive artistic form to choose. A painter can get some canvas and some paints  make a  killer piece, get to an art market  for a million and boom there we go

For filmmakers, the reality of getting a camera, getting all the equipment you need, and then on top of it, getting a team to operate the tools, that’s a whole process on its own. These things are hard when you off the grid and not part of the mainstream in the system and don’t necessarily want to be part of it.

That’s a very conscious choice, you can just join tv and become a commissioning editor, produce for television and things will be different, it will be a completely different narrative, everything is there,, there is funding for you and they hire you.

Food, clothes and shelter have no politics.

Mutabaruka

As an independent filmmaker or producer, it is very difficult… I only recently mastered the art form of really raising money for my films, for many years my films were independent, self-funded at times.

Now its like I understand more about the industry, how to write the right proposals, and apply to the right people and getting the money and managing the money.

When you at the lowest moment at the crux, paying rent, paying teams, paying crews, and rejections. Rejection is a big thing for filmmakers , filmmakers are sensitive beings, we are fragile as well  in this…. broken world

These are all the challenges that come on your journey, it applies to life as well… life ain’t easy.  The world is not nice, the world is cruel, the life we find peace and sanity within ourselves, the people close to you. There are your therapists, they are your motivational speakers, they push you and say we believe in you, that’s what keeps me going.

 What motivates you every day to be even more successful?

 

What motivates me to be successful, what motivation every day. Whats the motivation?  I think this idea that, on one level is that  African history, African stories were for the longest time ever was told through the voice of the colonizer and the aesthetic and the lens of the colonizer…..

These were told in a biased fashion…for me now, as a fellow African filmmaker, it is our duty. I feel strongly for film to be part of the restoration process, the healing journey that we are experiencing and going through as black people across the globe and the trauma that we collectively experience.

How do we heal? What are the healing mechanisms? Now to be honest with you, we don’t have a clear answer to that question. I feel collective communal sharing through a  very powerful visual medium like television or film, then you can project to the rest of the world and share that and say in order for us to be this idea of one world and one shared history.

Everyone has to have the opportunity to share their stories through there own  POV or point of view,  I think that’s powerful ways of sharing. We all have common stories. We share a common history of people all over the world which ultimately makes us human.

Every generation blames the generation before them.

 

Racial ideas and ideology, culture and religion etcetera, are just all divisive mechanisms put in place for a form divide, rule and conquer….not to be cliched,  we have the same blood and all of that. I have transformed, transgressed that phase. I have passed that idea

Anger is fine. Anger is important. We have to be angry. We can’t all just hear  I am sorry and forgive right now,

What if I don’t want to forgive you right, now, and maybe  I want to make a film about that as part of the idea of forgiveness, as collective forgiveness.

That makes film become an interesting mechanism and medium, for multiple purposes. I feel,  personally, we can use film a methodology of social healing for healing the self and healing communities.

 

What do you have to say to all of the people who doubted you?

What I have to say about all the people who doubted me…interesting question.  I always think about, one person comes to mind, a schoolteacher.

I wasn’t necessarily the greatest student, to be honest in high school.  I  probably could have done more. I was like, reckless and mischievous. I would say, I gave a lot of trouble.

Was I a rebel? Not sure, I don’t want to throw those words around. One teacher just didn’t like me. I was thinking about her the other day,

I think you always doubted me, I don’t think you ever believed in me, and now that my work is out there in the mainstream? I wonder if she saw my name out there. I wonder what she would think, after seeing what I had done.

I don’t want to reference people that doubted me.  I am not going to make a film for people. I make films am driven to or inspired to make. I don’t care about whether people agree with my standpoint, I love those who love me on the real level, beyond blood, blood relatives. My family is universal.  I am very blessed. We share this brokenness.As a broken people, we come together and we form this path of healing, the heal of our wounds….

What advice do you give to aspiring creative is who look up to you?

What advice do I give to those aspiring creatives that look up to me?

The advice ideally would be to always use motivation. The idea of keeping it moving or just do it.  Life is about the idea of inspiring the other, inspiring other people. I think for me,  that is what life is about. Me inspiring other people and continuing the human change of inspiration.

One has to know your craft, know your blessing, identify your blessing.  But also knowing that this is a  very complicated world that we living in. There will be multiple stumbling blocks with a lot of us.  You carrying the torch, you carrying the great torch of your ancestors. You dont have a choice  , you have to keep that torch alight. That is the flame, the driving force, the fuel.

More important is to have a voice. Have a political voice. I don’t mean party politics.  Having a geopolitical view of the world and its complexities. An understanding of global politics. Deciphering the bullshit of what the news tells you, projecting that in your work. Be that change you ultimately want to see.

What you see is what you see. What you know is different

Mutabaruka

Welcome #ExploremotherlandAfrica

Slavery is not African history. Slavery interrupted African history.

Mutabaruka

The other side of Table Mountain – Cape Town


Planning to travel in Africa?  The magnificent Table Mountain is a drawing card and the starting point is the infamous Cape Town for most… today we look over and behind Table Mountain.
Table Mountain

The perks of traveling to Africa are endless. Instead of scanning the game parks for rhino or setting off for a day sampling Cape chardonnays, take a  look at the other side.

The townships of Cape Town….. You inhale the roots of freedom, exhaling air of human rights, justice, and reconciliation. A flow from shebeens to sangomas, the emotional sensory vibe sets you sparkling off with a vivid social culture. Nothing is amiss as every township bubbles with its own unique story about its struggles and how it evolved and revolved to its current state.

A treasure in the center of Cape Town – Bo-Kaap

Bo-Kaap

Beyond the hustles and bustles, just beyond the city of Cape Town, you find Bo-Kaap.

The “Bo Kaap” is one of the most interesting parts of Cape Town culturally and historically. Colorful houses, steep cobbled streets, the muezzin’s calls to prayer, and children traditionally dressed for Madrassa add to this unique Cape experience. It is a multicultural area, tucked into the fold of signal hill. Use the cobblestoned streets as your guide and you will be lead into a lively suburb filled with brightly colored houses from the nineteenth and seventeenth century, shrines of Muslim saints, an abundance of beautiful Mosques, and the very first mosque that existed in South Africa.

Use the cobblestoned streets as you are lead into a lively suburb filled with brightly colored houses from the nineteenth and seventeenth century, shrines of Muslim saints, an abundance of beautiful Mosques, and the very first mosque that existed in South Africa.

The residents of Bo-Kaap are mostly descended from slaves who were imported to the Cape by the Dutch during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They came from Africa, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Java Malaysia. Some of them were political exiles and convicts. They were known as “Cape Malays”, which is incorrect as most of Bo-Kaap’s residents are not entirely of Malaysian descent. Their many Indonesian traces of vocabulary in the dialect of Cape, for example, “trim-

They were known as “Cape Malays”, which is incorrect as most of BoKaap’s residents are not entirely of Malaysian descent. Their many Indonesian traces of vocabulary in the dialect of Cape, for example, “trim-makaasi” thank-you, as well as  “kanalah” please! There are also many words, which have also been substituted with Afrikaans.

Funnily enough, Afrikaans evolved as a language of its own through a simplification of Dutch so that the slaves could communicate with the Dutch and each other since they all came from different countries and cultures. Muslims were the first to write texts in Afrikaans.
Cape Carnival

Each year on the 2nd of January, the Bo-Kaap celebrates a big street party, the “Coon Carnival” in the center of town. It was originally introduced by the Muslim slaves who celebrated their only day off work in the whole year. Nowadays men, woman, and children march from the Grand Parade to the Green Point stadium, singing, and dancing.

 

Kramat

Kramats or Muslim Shrines are burial sites of Saints of Islam. Cape Town residents have for a number of generations paid their respects these Shrines. There are three Karamats in Bo Kaap, and Signal Hill behind BoKaap has two.

 

 

Bo-Kaap Museum

One of the oldest buildings in Wale Street 71 houses the “Bo-Kaap Museum”. It is necessary to see since it feels like your stepping back in time. Built in by Jan de Waal in 1768, the museum was originally the home of Abu Bakr Effendi, a well-known Turkish scholar and prominent leader in the Muslim community. He was brought here in the mid-19th century to help quell feuding between Muslim factions and is believed to have written one of the first books in Afrikaans. The house has been furnished to re-create the lifestyle of a typical Malay family in the 19th century within a national socio-political and cultural context. Look for works by artist Gregoire Boonzaire, who’s famous for capturing the chaos and charm of neighborhoods such as the Bo-Kaap and District Six.

The Dutch brought slaves that were skilled artisans, political exiles, artisans, religious leader’s famous scholars, and convicts too. Islam, who roots started in Saudi Arabia some 1400 years ago, was brought to the Cape in the 1700’s. Skills and talents passed down from generation to generation accompanied these slaves. Not only skilled artisan but also superb cooks and cuisines blossomed. The Cape Malay Cuisine is not only delicious but also unique and has played a huge role in South African dishes.

A township tour can be one of the most illuminating and life-affirming experiences you will ever have.

 

The other side of Cape Town-‘Township Vibes’

 

The township reflects joy in freedom, human rights, justice and reconciliation. From shebeens to sangomas, a township visit is a unique, emotional and sensory experience abuzz with vivid social culture. Each township tells its own story about its establishment, its struggle through the apartheid years and its current situation.

A township tour can be one of the most illuminating and life affirming experiences you’ll ever have.

 

Down the road from Cape Town, with its magnificent beaches and world-class restaurants, warm African hospitality awaits in a bustling environment that few visitors to the city ever experience. An offering of an authentic taste of South African Township life leaves and adventurous traveller a unique experience.

B&B accommodation in townships has bright, cheerfully decorated rooms with a strong African Flavour.  Meals at this unpretentious focus on traditional Xhosa dishes.

Gugulethu, Cape Flats

Gugulethu ‘Gugs‘, – our pride -is one of the oldest black townships in South Africa and one of the most energetic and fastest developing.

Gugulethu was established in 1958 because of the migrant labour system. It grew as the number of migrant workers from the Transkei increased and Langa became too small.

It was originally named Nyanga West,  rooms were allocated in hostels, where three men had to share a tiny room.These were times when poverty, oppression and overcrowding were the order of the day under apartheid rule.

The hostels were for men only, no wives were allowed to visit their husbands. Women were left behind in the former Transkei and Ciskei homelands. The hostels remain the oldest buildings in Gugulethu.

In our present day, ‘Gugs’ is a mixture of former hostels and tin shacks, people built for privacy, as well as  brick and mortar houses in the wealthier ranks

‘Gugs’ is a vibrant, thriving community reflecting all classes of South African society. Soak up hot, township jazz at the Uluntu Community Centre, shop at NY1s Eyona Shopping Centre or watch boxing at the Indoor Sports Stadium on NY1.

‘Gugs’ was the first black township to have an information technology centre. Ikhwezi (the star) Community centre is situated just next to the Yellow Door jazz club in NY-3. The centre provides top class training in multimedia and youth development programs. The area has a sports field, community centres and schools.

Eyona Shopping Centre, Gugulethu has the Ubuntu arts promotion and Cyn Catering service situated at the Yellow Door Jazz Café. It is popular for its drama, art and craft stalls, marimba music and top class jazz.

Sivuyile – we are happy – is the tourism information centre in Gugulethu. It opened an art and craft shop in 1999 and assists college art, students and local artist. It also serves as a photographic gallery. Young artists in the community produce sculptures, ceramics, beadwork, traditional clothing and textiles.

The Link, the first independent Black township newspaper in Cape Town, founded in 1997, has its offices in the Sivuyele College.

The best way to experience ‘Gugs’ is to go and see for yourself.

The Direct Action Centre for Peace and Memory (DACPM) in Woodstock runs history and memory excursions and trains former freedom fighters to become excursion facilitators and take visitors to sites that are etched into South African memories: District Six, the Trojan Horse Memorial in Athlone, Langa and the Gugulethu Seven. The excursions have opened up spaces for freedom fighters to start the process of healing and reconstruction.

The tours also create the opportunity for others to listen, interact and understand what so many went through during the liberation struggle and the struggle of today: the struggle for jobs. Most stories that are told are very individual, very personal. And -also important- they are told with dignity.”

Gugulethu Seven Memorial

But the highlight of any trip to ‘Gugs’must be the Gugulethu Seven Memorial

On 3 March 1986, seven young activists were ambushed in a roadblock set up by police in NY-1 Street. The “Gugulethu Seven” as they are known, is one of the most callous examples of security forces operations. Built to commemorate their death, the Gugulethu Seven Memorial was sculpted by South African artists Donovan Ward and Paul Hendricks. The sculpture stands close to where the seven were murdered.

The cut-outs project onto the road surface in a play of sunlight and shadow that brings them back to life.

The work not only commemorates death but life and nation building – it combines elements of ruin or incompleteness with parts that seem to have just been constructed. It was unveiled in March 2000 on Human Rights Day.

Feel the township vibes in South Africa #Explore MotherlandAfrica