The Pandemic Project :: Thami Majela

UJ Arts & Culture’s featured artist for today’s The Pandemic Project is Thami Majela with his work The Last Supper. For Thami this was a piece that came at a difficult and inopportune time – a time where it was both difficult to work and express oneself. Through The Last Supper Majela sought to highlight the plight of the homeless who could not Stay Home, Stay Safe.

“During the lockdown one thing became evident and was magnified; the amount of people who live on the streets. Constantly being bombarded by the famous slogan, STAY HOME! I asked myself, where is their home? Where do they find warmth? And where is charity?” states Majela.

Dancing solo on the empty streets of Johannesburg, around an empty dustbin Majela evokes the devastating reality that many homeless people find their sustenance in discarded leftovers and for so many even this “last supper” was removed when people were forced to stay home.

During this time Majela faced an emotionally difficult time without electricity for the lockdown period. “However, I had shelter, I had a roof. Artistically I ask where charity is, if the place that had provided so much, food, warmth, shelter and security is desolate and bereft… Where does one go?”

Musically Majela’s feelings were complimented by the UJ Choir’s rendition of Ubi Caritas written by Paul Mealor written for the royal wedding in 2011. The song’s use during Eucharistic Adoration, Benediction of the Blessed and as an antiphon during the Catholic Church’s washing of the feet – commemorating the Last Supper – has made it a prayer and there Majela found answers to his question “Where charity and love are, God is there”.

Song: Ubi Caritas – Paul Mealor (1974)

Paul Mealor wrote this piece for the Royal Wedding in 2011, which was sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey

Title: The Last Supper

About Thami Majela

Thami Majela studied Dance at Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa and is a graduate from P.A.R.T.S (Performing Arts Research and Training Studios), Belgium. Majela has collaborated internationally and locally with independent artists, companies and institutions. He collaborated with Viennese artists Manahon Shimokawa (Dancer), Aksel Stasny (Cinematography) and Joe Schroecker (Photography) on the Short-film, A Last One in Colour, which premiered at Japanische Filmtage and received numerous nominations and awards including a Special Mention at the Roll Out Dance Film Festival, a nomination for Best Story at the Sarajevo Fashion Film Festival and an Official Selection at the Mosaic Film Festival.

Majela was thereafter invited to perform his duet with Manaho Shimokawa (Japanese/Austrian) for a book release and Solo exhibition Dream Land by Shlomit Schatzmayr (Israel/Austrian) which gave birth to another duet Homeless.

Through Pro-helvetia, he has collaborated with Swiss artist Margarita Kennedy, to create Interim which toured Maputo (Le Centre Culturel Franco-Mozambicain) and Madagascar. He also been residency at the Embassy for Foreign Artists, as research for his work Moving In Cities and at Atelier Mondial for his solo work Wethu which premiered in Basel, Roxy Theatre.

He was invited to The Centre for The Less Good Idea (William Kentridge’s Studios), Season 7 where he took interest in the Pepper’s Ghost device and created the work Spectral.

Majela believes in education and teaches Movement Studies/Floorwork Workshops and classes. He has toured and made his workshops accessible in regions such as Kwa-Zulu Natal (Afro Dance Junxion), Eastern Cape (Amandla Dance Teatro), Free State (Catch Fire Waya-Waya) Gauteng (Outreach Foundation, Vuyani Dance Theatre, Moving Into Dance Mophatong, Joburg Ballet, and many other privately owned studios).