Woordfees: what did students think?

Hayley Grammer

Stellenbosch – Students of Stellenbosch University seem to have mixed feelings about the Woordfees.

Lip did a short snap poll amongst students about this festival which celebrates the arts, and especially Afrikaans.

Olivia Burton, a third year B.Com. student, said that she would not be interested in the festival, since it is “generally in Afrikaans”.

Student Representative Council (SRC) leader and third year international studies student, Lwazi Pakade, doesn’t see the festival as being very representative of other cultures.

“Most of the productions I’ve seen advertised are mostly by white artists. I haven’t seen any black artists being promoted,” said Pakade. “I think the festival is only based on one perspective of art,” he added.

However, for Herschelle Benjamin, a third year drama student, the Woordfees is fantastic.

“It’s a golden opportunity for students if you are interested in the arts,” he said. “I love that we get to see famous people and that people from all walks of life are exposed to different forms of art.”

Although Benjamin had a number of positive things to say about the festival, he did raise some concerns.

“You see a lot of older people attending Woordfees and that makes me wonder if it is important for young people,” said Benjamin. “I also find it problematic that Woordfees only reaches out to a certain target group, which is a white culture.”

Marike Madsen-Liebold, head of arts and culture for the SRC, emphasised how the festival is accessible for everyone.

“People might feel that it caters to the older market, but that is because they have more money than the average student,” she said. “There are a lot of student-orientated shows and performances.”

Publicity manager for Woordfees, Frieda le Roux, explained why a predominantly older crowd is seen at the festival and highlighted how they have made progress in encouraging students from a diverse range of cultures to get involved.

“Because the festival is scheduled during term, many students have classes during the day, which influences their ability to attend the full programme,” said Le Roux.

“While Woordfees is an Afrikaans festival, we are not exclusively Afrikaans. isiXhosa and English is also on the programme,” she said.

“The festival is aware of the important role it can play in transformation and integration, and we do take that seriously. But we do not want to lose the loyal market that we have built over the last 17 years.”



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