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Welkom project launched

The official launch of the Welkom Today project was on Friday, 17 May, at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam after four years of hard work and intense research.

Four years ago, on the same day, this project was initiated by Lebohang Tlali, who was born and bred in Thabong, Welkom.

Tlali send an e-mail to the internationally renowned photographer Ad van Denderen when he discovered a book that van Denderen did about Welkom in the early 90’s.

As a photography student in Cape Town, Tlali had discovered the book by the Dutch photographer, who visited Welkom in 1990 to document the end and transitional period of Apartheid in South Africa.

Tlali then requested the return of the historical images that were taken during that period and this sparked the beginning of the new project Welkom Today,which involved many participants from the local community including young people of Welkom from three high schools.

Learners of the Teto High School in Thabong, Welkom-Gimnasium and the Goudveld-Hoërskool were involved.

In 2017 the learners from the three schools and the community had the opportunity to see these images for the first time and got engaged in looking and reflecting on their past history, where they live and how they see themselves and imagine their future today.

In continuing the workshop and educational themes, two schools from Amsterdam participated in workshops to reflect on their own environment and social issues of segregation. All the results were compiled into a newspaper journal which included photographs and stories from both the South African and Dutch youth respectively.

“Welkom is no longer just a random place in the middle of South Africa, our lives and our stories are present in the minds of other people across the world. These ideas and stories hopefully create a momentum towards understanding and taking the necessary actions for improving all of our well-being as people,” says Tlali.

In 2020 the exhibition and book will return to Bloemfontein and Johannesburg, where the contents and stories emanated from.

The project will hopefully spark a further interest in the importance of cultural and historical awareness among young people and encourage a further dialogue between South Africa and other parts of the world.

The mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, gave an opening speech and received the first copy of the book. An audience of over 500 people from the arts community and public was present.

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