INTERVIEW: ELYSIUM GARCIA ON ‘MANUFACTURING KINGS’

Earlier this year Elysium Garcia performed a moving piece called “Manufacturing Kings”. He dedicated the poem to Word N Sound’s Good Good Inc. which seeks to help schools in townships build their own libraries.

Why did you decide to dedicate your poem to Do Good? What is it about the project that touched you so deeply?

From when I received and understood the course of the initiative, something burned inside of me. More than excitement, I went back to my childhood and remembered how challenging it was to be the 62nd pupil in a classroom flooding with hopelessness and the inability to dream beyond the predetermined destiny of street corners and second-hand contentment of an uncomfortable reality. I remembered how impossible it is to have goals when you have no idea of where to even begin. I was one of the four kids that shared one text book. A library was a room where torn and outdated books are stored, we didn’t know it for any other purpose. It was till after my matric year that I saw people walking into a library to read or study. All those memories were evoked when I realized the magnitude of Do Good Inc. I thought of how well some of us would have grown up to be if there were, amidst that inherent suffering, such initiatives then. Sadly, though I speak of it as a distant memory, it is still happening to most South African children. Children sent to school only as a standard procedure of life and not necessarily for education. This ghost of my past is a continuous present to a lot of children right now. So upon hearing about Do Good Inc, a new hope arose in me, I saw that suffering already ending and new kings being born.

Please tell us about the poem itself. What was the writing process like? What research went into the piece? And what core message did you want the audience to walk away with?

The writing demanded a lot of digging into my childhood and tempering with stories I had long forgotten and found unnecessary to bring into my current reality. But acknowledging my course as a poet and putting aside the ideas I always want to write about, I found it immensely imperative for me to carry this message through. I knew that I wouldn’t be happy to hear my story being told by someone else, a person with no idea at all of how consuming it is to truly be in that space. So I went in. I also went out to a larger scale of a suffering outside the school yard, I observed it from infancy to when the children have grown with that agony into their adulthood. Some are experiences I haven’t particularly obtained myself, but I have always seen in the generations before me. My dream about the poem was to awaken in the audience the importance of educating children and putting to sleep the idea of fighting for things we will never ever get or get back as black people if we believe in the force of muscles and chanting outside some offices or in the streets unless we deploy better fighting methods, which in this regard is raising an informed people (the undiscovered kings) ours is to awaken the giants and discover the kings that are hidden by the lack of education in these kids. In us.

The photography was deeply moving. How did that idea come about? Where did you source the images?

Most of the poem was written by the photographs, the idea of the poem was very small and I didn’t trust much into it. But as I discovered these photographs I felt a great need to give them a voice. Surely they say a thousand times more than my words, which is why I needed their help to tell my story or express my idea of Do Good Inc in a much more comprehensible and perhaps moving manner. I found the photos from a variety of blogs on the internet, I have blogged some myself. There’s a gigantic world of endless information out there waiting to be discovered. The reason why initiatives such as Do Good Inc are so important.

What other campaigns/projects/initiatives would you like to see Do Good Inc being a part of in the future?

Growth! I would like to see the big corporations that have been given the power and all resources to do such things marveling in astonishment upon the greatness of Do Good Inc and not understanding how it came about. And then join in just with their resources. I see Do Good Inc growing to a level where we have tutors that parents trust more than school teachers. Where through Do Good Inc, South Africa and the whole of Africa awakens to the knowledge that educating a child is more important and more glorious than creating a dance show on TV.

 

…back to The Shadows.

 

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