Being a student at the Rhodes University is a privilege as talent from all over the world is brought home during the Grahamstown Arts Festival. Departments such as Drama, Fine Arts, Journalism & Media Studies and Music get a chance to do more practical work of their respective courses.
Students from Rhodes are of the view that the festival brings break from studies as it takes place immediately after exams. One of the Drama students Buhle Ngaba stated that the “Art festival defines the essence of Grahamstown; bringing people from local, National and International level together. I also get new skills and inspiration from watching different dramas from the festival”. Another student Katayi is of the opinion that Grahamstown is usually quiet but gets busier and interesting during the Festival.
The Art Festival is regarded as a benefit to mostly everyone, from the students, the university itself, the Hoteliers, street vendors, restaurants to mention but a few as they get more patronage by visitors. People also tend to spend more money during this period because there are a lot of beautiful things to buy ranging from art works, hand craft, clothes, show to see, different kinds of food and so on. Prices of things are usually on the high side. Speaking with one of the students Bongiwe who said that “once you see one or two performances, you will actually want to see more, so you spend more money”
However, foreign students say they face some challenges, like the difficulty of understanding South African accents when speaking with them, and vis-à-vis which in a way distort communication. They also comment on the right hand drive used in South Africa which is the opposite in their country, they find it not easy driving hired cars and also crossing the road.
More so, students from different universities seem to be more vigilant about their bags and properties during this festival because they read about cases of robbery in festivals.
“The most important of them all is the exchange of indigenous art from different culture, which makes people appreciate other works of art other than their own, this breaks the barrier of differences amongst us. Art is seen as a medium of communicating using its different forms.” said one of the student.
Since Grahamstown is regarded as a small town, during the festival students come across different people from diverse societies, sharing talent, ideas and creativity amongst each other. The use of English as a medium of communication has broken the gap of differences amongst students. Grahamstown is also seen as a meeting point of art, culture, religion and many more.
Scholars say they look forward to having great fun in the festival stating that they waited behind after their holiday just to enjoy themselves in the festival, meet people, make friends and also take the opportunity to do some shopping. Meeting celebrities from all over and just having a wonderful time.
Written by: Zukiswa Sidzumo &Peter Okosun