Luciane Ramos-Silva: Could you introduce yourself, bringing in the idea of home as a place where we can be, a place we can belong, and home as your place of art?
Helen Sebidi: Home is my place of art. I believe that charity begins at home. Traditionally this was a moving home, not a home to own like we do now. You have to be natured in your home. I also need to communicate with other homes, that is my duty. Other homes means that you are building the human being inside, alone, and the being is held spiritually by those who help you to see the world. Those people will also say to you, “We don’t own this world, we are its messengers.” We have been given the task of a messenger to transform culture and to communicate. My grandmother used to say to me, “I am built inside you.” It is therefore my duty to move this world as well.
LRS: Thinking about land and country, tradition, community, could you elaborate on those spaces you came from? Because in Brazil we don’t have so much connection with the histories and realities of South Africa, so could you tell us about it?
HS: I would start with the land. Our people were working on the land in order to follow the path that the Creator had given them. Then the European community introduced pensions, but our people said: “We don’t want to be given money from those people. These people want to take our land that was given to us by the Creator to do work for Him.” They rejected the pension because they believed that what they had been born for is what they have to work for. So traditionally I would say, the seeds were planted by the Creator and when the reward comes, we have got it here in our hand, we worked for it. We must know our seed and that is the only way that we will save growing cultures, communicating cultures. Before that happens, we will suffer. Africa was the first continent that was built and made by God, by reality. The Creator knew what He was doing. I am proof of who I am and I still say, I will never ever join someone else’s culture without communicating. My grandmother died in 1981, she pointed at me with a big finger and told me, “You are not going to work for white people, your parents have been taken by white people, but you are not gonna be taken.” As I travel around, I take with me all the seeds she planted in me.