War must be one of the worst tragedies that can befall a nation. Young people on both sides of every conflict, who should have their whole lives before them, are sent to fight for principles they might barely understand. Even if not directly fighting in battles, millions of children and young people are affected in all kinds of ways. Children may be forced to flee from their homes. Some witness the death of loved ones. Children are harmed physically and psychologically, facing violence, danger, anxiety and fear, and loss.
We have witnessed in Southern Africa over many decades – almost throughout the 20th century – the effects of the breaking up of communities, the removals of families, children and adults from their homes, to be left in places they do not know, with few resources to survive. These, too, are acts of violence, all of which have similarly destroyed or compromised people’s lives.
In this book we will look at some artists’ responses to conflict – not only the kinds of wars fought on battlefields, but also metaphorical wars: wars against oppression, poverty, disease, or racism. Artists have always played a part – in revealing and resisting injustice, in envisaging change, in inspiring hope, and – especially – in ensuring that these stories are told.