Tuesday, July 17, 2018


All the latest journalism from the Rhodes TV3 class

Getting Ready for Festival ’09

Posted by Paddy On May - 24 - 2009

By Mahreen Chenia, Laura Wener, Richard Moor & Greg Alrdrige

Nestled between the coastal cities of Port Elizabeth and East London, in the Makana valley, lies the picturesque university town of the 1820 settlers. Grahamstown is home to just over 120,000 people and houses the prestigous and world-reknown Rhodes University.  It  was founded in 1812 as a military outpost by Lieutenant-Colonel John Graham as part of the effort to secure the eastern frontier of British influence in the then Cape Colony against the Xhosa.

Every year in the June/July Winter vacation, Grahamstown comes alive with the sounds, smells and colours of South African arts and culture. The National Arts Festival attracts thousands visitors who spend their days perusing the attractions that the town has to offer. Every hall or large room becomes a theatre, parks and sport fields become flea markets, normally quiet streets have to be managed by an army of temporary traffic wardens, and every available bed in the city is booked. The festival offers more than 500 shows from opera, cabaret, drama and jazz to stand-up comics and folk music.

The Festival includes drama, dance, opera, music, visual art, lectures and tours. There are also exhibitions, markets and other cultural events. One of the favourites every year is the live music venue, the Cuervo Room which plays host to some of the greatest live acts in South African music. This year’s performers include newcomer, Jesse Clegg, the Parlotones and aKing. Many theatre companies premiere shows which then go on to tour the country. The National Youth Jazz Festival and the Standard Bank Young Artist Awards also take place during the festival. The main and fringe programmes receive funding from Standard Bank, the SABC, the National Lottery, the Eastern Cape Government and National Arts Council. Other hotspots include the Village Green which comes alive with food stalls, open-air performances and of course the different beer tents, where you might just bump into your favourite musician, comedian or artist.

An abundance of world-class performers and a record number of premières will be the striking features of the Main Programme for the 2009 National Arts Festival. The Rhodes University Drama Department will also be presenting some of its works. This gives drama students an opportunity to showcase both their acting and directing talents. The festival operates out of the 1820 Settlers National Monument and is organized by the Grahamstown Foundation. Tickets for the events may be purchased here as well as at other ticket offices around the town. It is also possible to buy tickets from the different venues 30 minutes prior to each show. The dates for this year’s Festival are 2-11 July.

The Grahamstown Arts Festival is not the only time Grahamstown comes alive. Tourists come to grahamstown all year round to take in the rich history in the area of old victorian style buildings and township dwelings. This small little town houses a large population, all vibrant and friendly, taking in the atmosphere of our history heritage and education.

If you are thinking of visiting Grahamstown for the 2009 National Arts Festival then take a trip with us as we explore the vast sites of this little town, from the historic museums to the bright and colourful township dwellings. Engage with our interactive maps, learn how to do a Xhosa dance, explore the Egazini Art Project and view some of our happy snaps from our recent trip through Grahamstown. Along the way you might even find out about the new form of public transport that is being offered by the local folk.

Check out these popular sites in Grahamstown

Use this map to plan your itinerary

Mbuleli will help take you on an interactive tour of Grahamstown. Use the map and the audio to familiarize yourself with the town and its beatuiful heritage.

Click for audio download  

The Observatory Musuem houses a number of historical pieces from the 1820 settlers…Something to check out

These Donkeys play a pivotal role in the Grahamstown community. They are not only used in the township but many students rely on them for transport to and from town. When in Grahamstown do like the Grahamstownians do and catch a ride on a donkey cart

We Follow Mbuleli Mpokela, a tour guide in the grahamstown area as he takes us to see some very intersting places.His tour includes historical dwellings in Grahamstown as well as township hot spots. Here are a few snippets of the tour

Egazini Art Centre

Traditional Xhosa song and dance

1 Response

  1. alette Said,

    Where can I learn to do a Xhosa dance?

    Posted on July 21st, 2009 at 11:11 am

Add A Comment

Video Today

Raphael HIV testing and support CentreThe Raphael Centre located in Grahamstown, South Africa is a HIV/AIDS testing and support centre. Lately, though, this haven for people infected or affected by the virus has been rought by troubles. The future of the centre is uncertain as it needs sponsors to ensure it’s survival. Meanwhile other issues, like an objecting neighbour are also posing problems for the centre which helps over 1 000 people every month.