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By Jennifer Cohen

In the small Karoo village of Prince Albert, sitting quietly at the foot of the Swartberg mountains, Every Voice Matters.  

Or so residents have come to believe. After a dream convinced her, Hélène Smit, director of Depth Leadership Trust, decided to engage people living there, asking them, “If your voice could reach the ears of the world, what would you most like to say?”

Six months later nearly 25% of the town’s population has answered. The 2 100 messages collected – on handwritten cards – were displayed in the Depth Leadership Centre, as an installation at the biennial Prince Albert art festival. This year’s event took place between 18 and 24 September, with 80 artists participating under the theme of bringing art back home.

Volunteers approached individuals on the street, at home and at the schools, the old age home, the prison, various community projects, the library, shops and the municipality to solicit their contributions. “Many of our encounters took hours because people wanted to tell us their stories,” said Smit.

“The themes emerging from the answers included suggestions about how to make the world a better place; varying levels of distress about a range of social ills; dissatisfaction about service delivery; and offerings of individual wisdom, wishes, dreams and declarations of love for Prince Albert and South Africa,” she summarised.

Corruption crops up again

One such category, probably echoed throughout South Africa, included concerns voiced about corruption.   

“Ek wil hê daar moet geen korrupsie wees nie. Ek wil hê daar moet liefde wees,” said one person. [I want there to be no corruption. I want there to be love.]

“Om die korrupsie te stop (jy is nie beter as ander een nie maak nie saak wie en wat jy is nie. Adam Small sê dit in een van sy gedigte),” said another. [To stop the corruption (you are no better than the next person, doesn’t matter who or what you are. Adam Small says this in one of his poems.)]

Corruption Watch’s executive director David Lewis was taken with the project and has agreed to travel to the small town to hear more about people’s concerns.



One installation at the recent Prince Albert art festival, held in September, featured the thoughts of the Karoo town’s residents, speaking out against corruption, service delivery, and various social ills, and imparting their own words of wisdom and wishes for the future.