‘Vukuzenzele’ is an isiXhosa word that means to wake up and do it for yourself. It is a year long programme focused on community building and equality. The aim is to empower participants to have a sense of agency within their own communities. The project includes workshops in the areas of communication, group leadership and project management and uses the Participatory Video approach as its primary methodology.
The Participatory Video methodology is focused on supporting a community driven response to effect the social change they aspire to. Facilitators teach how to use video equipment through collaborative games and exercises, followed by production skills. This enables participation by anyone regardless of their literacy level, physical ability or age. It brings people together to explore issues, voice concerns or simply to be creative and tell stories. Following their productions, participants host screenings of their work to engage dialogue within the communities they are working within, and generate collective inputs towards seeking and implementing solutions to their identified concerns.
Alongside the storytelling and video making, much valuable learning occurs, as participants explore team work, leadership, project management, time management, computer literacy, data management, public speaking, event organising, dialogue facilitation and self confidence.
Two months into the programme, the pandemic asked us to radically alter our curriculum, preventing us gathering and driving the learning online. This was a huge challenge to the participatory nature of the learning, providing many challenges as well as unexpected learning opportunities.
Challenges were keeping a sense of connection and trust, inability to experiment with the camera equipment within a group (which increases learning a hundred fold, as participants observe each other’s learning and witness the effects instantaneously), and reduced team work practice. The poor connectivity and data speeds for many of the participants also generated frustration and reduced ability to engage.Opportunities came in learning to engage in online platforms, and increased computer literacy.