News Brief

Pretoria High School Caves Under Pressure—Suspends Racist Rules on Students’ Natural Hair

“For instance, some educators tell them they look like monkeys, or have nests on their heads.”

Who ever said protesting is a tired practice? I may have been guilty of doubt, but news that the provincial education minister Panyaza Lesufi has ordered the suspension of rules that allegedly discriminate against natural hairstyles at Pretoria High School for Girls in the administrative capital of South Africa gives me renewed hope—at least in social media’s capacity to amplify protest.


A quick bit of background: The school was founded in 1902 for whites-only and continued that way through the apartheid era. It has since become integrated; however African students have alleged teachers at the school have demeaned their natural hairstyles, and banned them from speaking indigenous languages on the campus. That’s why outraged students organized a silent march in protest at the school’s annual Spring Fair on Saturday, which drew armed police response and quickly boiled over to social media under #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh by Monday. The protest even inspired South African renaissance man Modise Sekgothe to pen a poem in their honor, and elicited a tweet from South Africa’s arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa.

And black students at a second school in South Africa, Lawson Brown High, raised their voice in protest for similar discriminatory hair rules.

In response, Gauteng Department of Education released a statement Tuesday, saying it had learned of the black students’ allegations regarding wearing Afros and speaking in African languages after Lesufi visited the school and has called for a formal, independent investigation and review of the Code of Conduct—which by the way, doesn’t prohibit natural hairstyles explicitly, although it outlines details regarding length. This suggests the teachers may have pulled these “rules” out of thin air or at least applied them arbitrarily. Smdh.

The department states on Facebook, “The learners feel that educators use abusive and demeaning language when they address them regarding their hairstyles. For instance, some educators tell them they look like monkeys, or have nests on their heads.” Ridiculous.

A statement on the school’s website adds that the school’s governing body has agreed to work with the department to “resolve the issues which were raised.”

And they had better because this new generation of black girls aren’t playing with racist policies or police—they’re fearless, vocal and magic.

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Artwork: Barthélémy Toguo Lockdown Selfportrait 10, 2020. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair Goes to Paris in 2021

The longstanding celebration of African art will be hosted by Parisian hot spot Christie's for the first time ever.

In admittedly unideal circumstances, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair will be touching French soil in 2021. The internationally celebrated art fair devoted to contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora will be hosted in Paris, France from January 20 - 23. With COVID-19 still having its way around the globe, finding new ways to connect is what it's all about and 1-54 is certainly taking the innovative steps to keep African art alive and well.
In partnership with Christie's, the in-person exhibits will take place at the auction house's city HQ at Avenue Matignon, while 20 international exhibitors will be featured online at Christies.com. And the fun doesn't stop there as the collaboration has brought in new ways to admire the talent from participating galleries from across Africa and Europe. The fair's multi-disciplinary program of talks, screenings, performances, workshops, and readings are set to excite and entice revelers.

Artwork: Delphine Desane Deep Sorrow, 2020. Courtesy Luce Gallery


The tech dependant program, curated by Le 18, a multi-disciplinary art space in Marrakech medina, will see events take place during the Parisian run fair, followed by more throughout February.
This year's 1-54 online will be accessible to global visitors virtually, following the success of the 2019's fair in New York City and London in 2020. In the wake of COVID-19 related regulations and public guidelines, 1-54 in collaboration with Christie's Paris is in compliance with all national regulations, strict sanitary measures, and security.

Artwork: Cristiano Mongovo Murmurantes Acrilico Sobre Tela 190x200cm 2019


1-54 founding director Touria El Glaoui commented, "Whilst we're sad not to be able to go ahead with the fourth edition of 1-54 Marrakech in February as hoped, we are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to be in Paris this January with our first-ever fair on French soil thanks to our dedicated partners Christie's. 1-54's vision has always been to promote vibrant and dynamic contemporary art from a diverse set of African perspectives and bring it to new audiences, and what better way of doing so than to launch an edition somewhere completely new. Thanks to the special Season of African Culture in France, 2021 is already set to be a great year for African art in the country so we are excited to be playing our part and look forward, all being well, to welcoming our French friends to Christie's and many more from around the world to our online fair in January."

Julien Pradels, General Director of Christie's France, said, "Christie's is delighted to announce our second collaboration with 1-54, the Contemporary African Art Fair, following a successful edition in London this October. Paris, with its strong links to the continent, is a perfect place for such a project and the additional context of the delayed Saison Africa 2020 makes this partnership all the more special. We hope this collaboration will prove a meaningful platform for the vibrant African art scene and we are confident that collectors will be as enthusiastic to see the works presented, as we are."


Artwork: Kwesi Botchway Metamorphose in July, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery 1957


Here's a list of participating galleries to be on the lookout for:

Galleries

31 PROJECT (Paris, France)
50 Golborne (London, United Kingdom)
Dominique Fiat (Paris, France)
Galerie 127 (Marrakech, Morocco)
Galerie Anne de Villepoix (Paris, France)
Galerie Cécile Fakhoury (Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire/ Dakar, Senegal)
Galerie Eric Dupont (Paris, France)
Galerie Lelong & Co. (Paris, France / New York, USA)
Galerie Nathalie Obadia (Paris, France / Brussels, Belgium)
Galleria Continua (Beijing, China / Havana, Cuba / Les Moulins, France / San Gimignano, Italy / Rome, Italy)
Gallery 1957 (Accra, Ghana / London, United Kingdom)
Loft Art Gallery (Casablanca, Morocco)

Luce Gallery (Turin, Italy)
MAGNIN-A (Paris, France)
Nil Gallery (Paris, France)
POLARTICS (Lagos, Nigeria)
SEPTIEME Gallery (Paris, France)
This is Not a White Cube (Luanda, Angola) THK Gallery (Cape Town, South Africa) Wilde (Geneva, Switzerland)

For more info visit 1-54

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