piemp Project

piemp’ is an Afrikaans verb that refers to speaking out, to breaking the societal codes of silence and secrecy.

piemp also refers to a community project that is rooted in my (Thérèse’s) Narrative Therapy training. The first piemp project was done between 2005 and 2009 with the young people of Scottsville in Kraaifontein. This collaborative creative writing project with young people resulted in 2009 in a self published volume of poetry and drama, entitled piemp.

Ronelda S. Kamfer, recipient of the 2009 Eugene Marais-prize, wrote about the first piemp publication as follows:

When one grows up in a community where violences, gangs and drugs are part of daily routine, the good things are so special that one treasures it forever. For young people the hardest things are not the violence, the gangs and the helplessness – the hardest are the words. Words to say what is wrong, words to describe the pain with, the words to ask questions. The hardest of all is the lack of words. Poetry was for too long out of the reach of ordinary people – piemp brings it back home. piemp says silence is no answer.

My orientation in this work is not only about creative writing, but about how to go about cultivating conditions for voice and visibility for young people in marginalised communities.  Therefore the most recent piemp project at Weltevrede Secondary School in Wellington, actively encouraged the participation of two interested teachers, Ashlene Ayford and Marlize Fortuin.  I have discovered that a whole-school approach, where everyone is aligned around a commitment to the project and its intentions, is the best way to foster an ethos in a school community that honours and celebrates young people’s experiences and their voicing of it.

piemp started as an Afrikaans project. Through piemp I actively worked towards voice and visibility for young people in communities in Kraaifontein, Athlone and Wellington that still struggled with the effects of apartheid - the same political system that had afforded me voice and opportunity as a white person. In this way, piemp became the construction of an alternative story about myself and my relationships with my South African other, and what we were all capable of together.

The cover of the 2009 volume of poetry and drama, entitled  piemp

The cover of the 2009 volume of poetry and drama, entitled piemp

piemp project at Weltevrede Secondary School in Wellington. For more videos on the process of piemp, visit our YouTube channel.

Die Heuwels Fantasties becomes involved with piemp

Towards the end of 2016, Hunter Kennedy and Pierre Greeff of the renowned Afrikaans band Die Heuwels Fantasties approached me. They wanted to get involved in a community project. I told them of the piemp project in Wellington I was involved with at the time.  They then came to Wellington and met with the young participants. Hunter and Pierre then committed themselves to the project.

It was decided that the the young people would each write a poem about their mother, that was subsequently recorded by Hunter and Pierre together with Afrikaans rapper, Hembelbesem, in Wellington. Over many months the young people’s lyrics were turned into the ‘ma-lied’ (Mother song) by Die Heuwels Fantasties

The song was played publicly for the first time at Weltevrede Secondary School on 8 February 2018. A CD of the song and other songs by the young people is planned for release later in 2018.

The ‘Mother’ Song (2018). Lines from various poems about their mothers by the young people of Weltevrede Secondary School were put together by Hunter Kennedy and Pierre Greeff of Die Heuwels Fantasties. Production by Johnny de Ridder.  

What piempers are saying about piemp:

Zulrich Isaacs (17):

The past year I was in an emotional prison but the poems saved me from my feelings inside the jail. My poems are my life. 

Anastacia Judzen (15)

... I covered up, I covered up..  but when I came here, piemp gave me a different picture... why do I have to cover up? This is who I am! ... so the rawness ( of my writing) is not only for myself it is also there for others who are going through the same thing. It shows them how to handle things ... because it is not fake, it is how things really are.