TROTTING THE GLOBE TO HELP PRISONERS

THIS week I felt as if I was in prison after speaking to arts activist and playwright of note Rhodessa Jones, who is at present in the country to work with female prisoners.

THIS week I felt as if I was in prison after speaking to arts activist and playwright of note Rhodessa Jones, who is at present in the country to work with female prisoners.

She gave me insight into the life of incarcerated women at the Johannesburg Prison, known as Sun City, where she spent two weeks creating a play with the inmates.

Born in the US, though these days she is globetrotting to empower females inmates in the world's prisons, Jones sounded quite motivated by the work she does behind prison walls.

"I found the women quite open about their lives when I encouraged them to take responsibility for their lives and not to play the blame game," Jones said,

"The main theme running through their stories is the need for money to help their families outside." she said.

"Most of the inmates are young women who are still hopeful about life.

"I always encourage them to speak about themselves and the situation they find themselves in and not about whatever role the other party might have played to create the situation."

The play called Serious Fun at Sun City Part 2, is a follow up to Jones's first play at the infamous prison last year.

This time around she worked with prisoners she had worked with last year and new ones.

"Most prisoners in the US are Latino and African American women who look like me and here in South Africa they are also not all that different demographically since they also look like me," she said.

But Jones does not only work with American and South African inmates.

"Just three weeks ago, I was in Russia to deal with psychological problems of some of the female inmates there."

Jones is being hosted by the Southern African Exchange, an organisation that is well known for bringing African musicians in the diaspora to work with their South African counterparts at the annual poetry festival Urban Voices.

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