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Friday, 01 June 2012 11:07

Fighting Rhino poaching with poetry and music

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Jess van Tonder: The evening started with a poetry reading from students and Rhino activists alike – all stirring deep feelings of love and admiration for Themba, the Kariega Game Reserve rhino that had his horns brutally hacked off by poachers and then saved by Will Fowlds, poet and game ranger.

The night was not only dedicated to the Rhinos but to other animal species that have become endangered through the hand of man, and to raise awareness of our dwindling wildlife. Students and environment enthusiasts brought their poetry forward for the open mic and were met with words of encouragement as well as deeper insight into what is happening within nature.

The poetry was painfully personal, brutal and often spine chilling. Stories were shared about rare encounters with Rhinos and the effects of these encounters on the Rhino lovers. The evening was not filled solely with unhappy, sorrowful stories, but with laughter, creative thoughts and a love for the purest nature and a healthy environment too.

“The more that you see poaching and animal harm the more you want to do something about it. Everyone knows that it happens but nobody really sees it. Ignorance has become bliss,” commented Cara Attewell, organizer of the event. “All these bands have come down in aid of the Rhino’s, it creates more awareness. People come to see Graeme Watkins Project but at the same time they get to help the Rhino’s.” 

The evening continued with Jae Saskia Braun playing an acoustic set. Modern Age began the crowd rocking with their covers of many popular songs such as “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers. The local bands set the mood for a night that was not going to slow down any time soon. Not many bands have exploded into the world music scene the way that the Graeme Watkins Project has. They have had two top ten hit singles within just a year, and have left their mark in the environment world by performing in several Rhino campaigns. They show no sign of slowing down. Their hit “Music Affair” has a way of hypnotizing crowds and drawing them in.

The Graeme Watkins Project brings a dirty, edgy, rough approach to indie, pop, rock and electronic that work perfectly for them. “A masterpiece is a stroke of genius in a moment of madness. So live life like a madman.” GWP is made up of Graeme as the lead singer, Ryno Zeelie on lead guitar, Rudo Pietere on bass and Matthew Marinus on drums. “It’s our first time in Grahamstown, but we will be the same high energy, high rocking set.” Graeme commented. The band brought the energy that they had promised and more. “I am a big advocate against rhino poaching,” said Graeme, “South Africa’s greatest treasures do not lie solely in gold and minerals but more within its wild life. So I think that we should really be looking after our wildlife, because if we lose our wildlife, Africa will lose more than just its tourist’s attractions. It’ll lose a piece of itself.”

Towards the end of the set Graeme made a statement that rang true in the crowd, “The only things in this world that should be poached are eggs.”

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