“Our Ocean is Sacred, You Can’t Mine Heaven”

The Crocheted Coral Reef


Last week we witnessed how Paul subversively impregnated his Colossians narrative with echoes from the past liberation movements of God, by using well known words and phrases aimed at jolting his audience’s memory. Artists have done this through the ages. Here is the example from the band Bright Blue and their song: Weeping (1987). If you listen to the recording you will hear the then banned ANC national anthem being played – an echoing melody line around 1:32 seconds into the song, subversively stating that there will only be peace when everyone is free… until then the fear, the fire and guns remain. This song escaped that paranoid censorship laws of the Apartheid regime and actually became No. 1 on Radio 5, an SABC station.

I knew a man who lived in fear
It was huge, it was angry, it was drawing near
Behind his house, a secret place
Was the shadow of the demon he could never face
He built a wall of steel and flame
And men with guns, to keep it tame
Then standing back, he made it plain
That the nightmare would never ever rise again
But the fear and the fire and the guns remain

It doesn’t matter now
It’s over anyhow
He tells the world that it’s sleeping
But as the night came ’round
I heard its lonely sound
It wasn’t roaring, it was weeping
It wasn’t roaring, it was weeping

And then one day the neighbours came
They were curious to know about the smoke and flame
They stood around outside the wall
But of course there was nothing to be heard at all

“My friends, ” he said, “We’ve reached our goal”
“The threat is under firm control”
“As long as peace and order reign”
“I’ll be damned if I can see a reason to explain”
“Why the fear and the fire and the guns remain”

The 28th July was Earth Overshoot Day – which marks the date in a year when humanity has used all the ecological resources that the earth regenerates during that entire year. Rose-Anne will be sharing more about this during today’s service. In this light please check out the exhibition at our space on the corner of Church and Burg Streets, which will take place between 4 August and 30 September.

Our Ocean is Sacred, You Can’t Mine Heaven:

A public storytelling and radical ‘an-archive’ on intangible ocean heritage, exhibits at the Zero Gallery, Cape Town in collaboration with EITZ.

 “Our ocean is sacred, you can’t mine heaven” was a recent slogan seen on placards held by protestors against seismic surveys and ocean oil and gas exploration along the South African west and east coast.

Recent High Court judgments weighing in favour of small-scale fishers and communities over massive Oil and Gas companies, have sparked greater traction and public interest (and advocacy) against the rush for minerals and oil and gas in the sea, and has, in its own way, created a new public conversation around ocean heritages, cultures, and livelihoods that are deeply entangled and related to the Ocean.

This collaboratively curated exhibition is funded by EITZ, the One Ocean Hub’s Deep Fund and the National Arts Festival 2022. One Ocean Hub’s South African Country Director Dr. Dylan McGarry and senior researcher at the Environmental Learning Research Centre (ELRC) at the University currently known at Rhodes, has lead a team of cultural practitioners alongside Dr. Boudina McConnachie at the International Library of African Music (ILAM) to develop a multi-genre audio-visual storytelling project, which shares some of the rich cultural artefacts resurfacing (and in some cases emerging) as reflections of South African ocean culture. McGarry explains: “Some of the artwork in the exhibition were used as evidence alongside the rich affidavits and testimonies of Small Scale Fishers and customary rights holders in the court interdicts, thereby expanding the arguments against oil and gas exploration to go beyond positivist scientific debate, into socio-cultural discourse – this lead to new legal precedents, where judges recognised the Ocean as sacred to South Africans, with specific reference to the Ocean as the sacred realm of the ancestors”.

The Crocheted Coral Reef

One of the stand-out pieces was the “The crocheted coral reef” installation created by the Woodstock Art Reef Project. This crochet coral reef took 12 years to create, and is an ongoing and expanding installation that is lovingly made by hundreds of citizens across South Africa. It is one of many satellite crochet coral reefs that adorn and warm up spaces around the world. The cosy reef coral holds powerful symbolism and figuration of solidarity in times of climate change. While coral bleaching due to ocean acidification and rising sea temperatures threatens the future of many ocean ecosystems, there are ecological citizens gathering around the world in solidarity.

Press Release: Our Ocean Is Sacred, You Can’t Mine Heaven

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