“I’ll keep telling stories because I have no other choice”.
There are few things that strike you about Jason; his hair and his surname. If you care to know him deeper, you might even know or feel his passion; telling stories. Jason is a UCT psychology graduate, filmmaker, author and a nephew to former gang lord Rashied Staggie, who alongside his twin brother Rashaad, terrorised the Cape Flats back in the mid 90s as leaders of the notorious gang squad, Hard Livings Gang. Rashied was recently released from prison on a day parole after serving serving 11 years of his 15-year sentence and his other uncle Rashaad was shot and burned alive in 1996. Jason is telling his uncles’ story in his latest documentary, Hard Livings, a film that wishes to find out what caused the twins to become the way they were and what exactly happened during that turbulent period in South Africa’s history. Jason sees the film as a mission.
“Hard Livings is a story that I’ve been wanting to tell for a very long time. My focus is primarily on education and learning from the actual story. It will be an entertaining film. But at its core I would like for it to offer solutions to the scourge of gangsterism that seemingly has dumfounded politicians for years. I don’t see the point of tackling any of my projects if it doesn’t offer something beneficial or open people’s minds. Perhaps I’m idealistic and ambitious regarding my goals, but as far as I’m concerned one might as well go big.
I feel like one of the hindering factors is that most of the youth feel as if there is nothing they can do, but this is not the case. Any effort made to improve one’s community, city, country or continent is one that will never be made in vain. Action tends to inspire others to follow suit. As the youth, I see it as our duty to push boundaries and uplift this country and this continent. It’s pointless complaining; one must act.
As Africans to move forward as artists or simply as a continent of thinkers we have to be conscious of our own stories and we have to be the people telling them. There’s a level of intimacy that telling our own stories tend to inspire and in this way I believe they are genuine. Too often we have allowed the rest of the world to steal our narratives and taint them with their own perspective of Africa. It’s by time that this ends, and I look forward to the results. . I’ll keep telling stories because I have no other choice. It’s like asking someone “Why do you breathe?” I am aware of my role and I revel in it. We are living in exciting times”.
My debut novel Risk has just been released. I believe it’s a fairly accurate portrayal of a side of South Africa’s youth that most people have never seen, yet it is there, festering”. A socially conscious transgressive novel which deals with a group of students who play the ultimate dare game, called RISK. The game forces them to look closely at the pitfalls of living in Africa. The game spawns into a movement with students all over Africa dedicating their talents and abilities to the attainment of getting our beautiful continent out from the bottom of the world’s toilet.”
Risk is available in leading bookstores.