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Clowns Without Borders

Photographer: Kim Ludbrook


Deep in the hilly hinterland of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, five clowns from 'Clowns Without Borders South Africa' take to their makeshift 'stage' amongst the cattle, sheep and pigs of the rural community schools near King Williams Town, to use the method of humanitarian clowning to bring an important message to the adoring schoolchildren and local community members.


Under a hot summer sun, Banana, Fish, Sisiter Bos, China and Banini bring their tiny red background, clothes and props in the back of a hire car and set up their show in pen areas around schools and in the local community halls, ready to change the lives of the communities with laughter.


Funded by the National Arts Council of South Africa, and working with partners Sinovuyo Teen Programme (Oxford University) and Hope Soap, the clowns aim to bring emotional and psychosocial relief to the communities through laughter and play. In addition, they aim to help educate people about the importance of saving water, as water resources in South Africa face a serious shortage and the worst drought in three decades.


Finally, with the Hope Soap organization, the clowns hand out cakes of soap to the children and incorporate hand washing and basic hygiene into their show, so as to educate them in the importance of washing their hands.


Working for three weeks in the King Williams Town area, the clowns do a show in the morning for the children outside in the open, and in the afternoon in the local community hall for the whole community.


With the clowns in full swing during their shows, the children and community members are shifted and moved by their energy and messages and afterwards walk down the dusty roads back to their huts and houses with the messages of saving water and good hygiene and a smile.