28 November 2015, Participatory Video Community Training Course, Yellowwood Park, Durban
See video here
By Romeo Njabulo Ndlovu
Billy Mnqondo from Fuleni in Empangeni along with groups from other parts of the country and Zimbabwe have taken the challenge of equipping their communities with video capturing and sharing skills after attending a participatory video workshop held at the Wilderness School of Leadership.
Community members in groups of four were given a week to learn video capturing, editing and sharing skills. The purpose of the workshop was to equip them with skills of documenting what they see as they experience effects of nature degradation in their communities.
Apart from acquiring these skills themselves, they have taken a challenge of going back to share with their communities what they learnt during the six day workshop.
Fuleni group members, led by a vocal Billy said that they accept the challenge and they are happy to go back to their community with something that is going to benefit everyone after the screening of their short film about the importance of trees and clean rivers they had produced within the six days.
“There are a lot of things happening in my community that when we talk about people do not listen or believe because they are not verifiable, but gathering visual evidence will help us now that we will share content with the world and unlike us talking, its authenticity is never called into question,” said Mnqondo.
Mnqondo also said that he will assist his community members in using their smart phones to capture videos, edit and share them online. He concluded by saying that this it is one of the skills he acquired at the workshop.
The groups at the workshop were selected by the Mupo foundation which works in helping rural communities in ecological governance, and mining affects their work negatively. Mupo chose four groups from different places to teach them to better document environmental challenges they are facing using videos.
The group from Zimbabwe was invited because they are trying to restore indigenous seeds which are negatively affected by mining, while groups from Mpumalanga province and Msinga also face mining issues.
Sheila Berry says she was involved in the workshop as a founding trustee of the Global Environmental Trust and the person who launched the Save Our iMfolozi Wilderness campaign to oppose the proposed Fuleni open cast coal mine on the boundary of the historic iMfolozi Wilderness Area.
“When I and other trustees heard about the proposed coal mine, we immediately started working with local communities there to capacitate them to make informed decisions about their situation.
Teaching representatives from these communities is another way of giving them skills to document what they see happening around them. Videos are a powerful form of communication and also an irrefutable record of events. It is easy to dismiss someone’s words but not that easy to dismiss visual evidence,” Berry said.