Every winter people from Grahamstown get to see their town filled by people who come across the country to celebrate the National Arts Festival.
While the visitors are enjoying themselves in the “City of Saints” as Grahamstown is best known, some people from this town feel isolated in their own backyard.
A street vendor, Ziyanda Magutywa from Extension six, Joza location poured out her dissatisfaction about the festival and how she feels excluded from it. She believes the Festival has been taken away from and that it was supposed to develop the people of Grahamstown, especially the youth from the disadvantaged areas such as hers. “We are not benefiting anything at all from the Arts Festival. It is only based at Rhodes”, said the irate Magutywa.
Magutywa says the Bathurst Street, the street in which she sells her sausage rolls “used to be closed to prevent cars” from moving there as that area was part of the festival programme, but things changed last year when the street was no longer part of the festival. During the time in which the street was part of the festival, Magutywa said they were aloud to sell there and they “used to sell freely”.
“Traffic and police chase us and take our things away when we sell up there (Rhodes University), but they say (the government) we should stand up and do for ourselves”, Magutywa further explained.
Gilly Hemphill from Grahamstown National Arts Festival Communication Office sees things differently. It was news to her to hear that the festival only accommodates certain people and that it has now been moved to Rhodes. “Everything is still the same. Nothing has changed except for the Green Village which was moved to Rhodes two years ago”, explained Hemphill.
By Elethu Magele