IT was Mahatma Gandhi who once said we ought to be the change we wish to see in the world. Words of the low-key racist Indian reverberate in the story of how NGO Umzekelo Community Development Organisation was found.
UCDO’s founder and chairperson Fortune Shabangu grew up as the bad-influence kid your parents didn’t want you playing with. “I’m a school drop-out myself and I grew up doing petty crime with friends just to fit in and that always put me as a black sheep of the family, my community and at school. My friends’ parents didn’t want me near their kids as I was a trouble child and all that. I believe I was longing for my separated parents because I was raised by my grandmother and uncle,” says Shabangu. His mother passed away in 2011, a few months after Shabangu rekindled his relationship with her.
Seeing the need to make a turnaround in her life, Shabangu joined Siyanqoba Theatre Project as a hip hop dancer which later went into drama, poetry and music. “…we were doing prison tours showcasing talents I never thought I would, and seeing young brothers in jail opened my eyes that’s when I realised one day I want to establish an organisation that will educate young kids about social ills, crime and where the smallest things we ignore”
So in 2017 Umzekelo was born from his previous pains. “Umzekelo Community Development Organisation was established to be the voice and change of young people in all educational institutions. In schools we are seeing a lot of bullying, crime, teenage pregnancy, moral degeneration, drug abuse, school drop outs and all these things are increasing the volume of poverty in our black communities. Coming with programmes that will enhance the kids to try keep them off the streets is our main own collective objective,” Shabangu tells Tha Bravado.
Two years later, Shabangu has built a team around Umzekelo which has helped kids going through unimaginable traumas. The organization is currently on a clothing drive, for less fortunate youth which has been well received. “The reception so far has been overwhelming, with a high number of people on social media and different communities across Gauteng showing interest and endless support,” says Umzekelo’s Deputy Chairperson, Derah Manyelo. Other team members include Treasurer Reggie Majola, PR and marketing head Kenny Sekhoela as well as graphic designer Kamohelo Morobe.
“The clothes are going to be donated individually to financially disadvantaged kids, with more of the clothes going to orphanages around Tembisa mostly. Community members can also identify a kid they believe deserves the clothes and we will gladly assist with some of the donations we have,” adds Manyelo.
Umzekelo has in the past, went on a pad drive as well. “The clothing drive isn’t the first initiative under UCDO, before the clothing drive we were pushing the Sanitary Pad Drive which is an initiative aimed at collecting and donating sanitary pads to underprivileged school girls who cannot consistently afford to buy sanitary pads for themselves.”
“We do not have a cut-off date because these are ongoing problems and we are willing to tackle them till the end,” says Manyelo of both the Pad Drive and the clothing drive.
Get in touch with Umzekelo Community Development Organisation at:
Zoë Modiga is such a fine collaborator, you’d be pardoned for forgetting she has a respectable body of work as a solo artist. She rectified that, with a release of her single Lengoma.
The catchy track’s West African feel is helped by vocals from Tubatsi Mpho Moloi of Urban Village. It’s heavily percussion-driven, with the opening sequence remnant to that of Pebbles’ Emandulo. But Zoë doesn’t get swallowed by the drums, she actually has room to flex her vocal skills albeit in a chant-like style.
Lengoma is different from the smooth, jazzy head-bopping offerings she’s done with Seba Kaapstad, a cosmopolitan collective that Zoë is part of. Seba Kaapstad, made up of Ndumiso Manana, Sebastian Schuster, Phillip Scheibel, released their project Thina earlier this year. The clique is signed under Mellow Music Group.
Lengoma sounds worlds apart from Zoë’s 2017 album Yellow: The Novel. There’s more maturity in the music, which comes off in the simplicity of the song. One of Zoë’s trump cards is her unpredictability as a creator, which makes her art more luring.
The reason folk are saddened by death is because they are directly affected by the upshot of someone’s demise. But others are what I call fundamental sympathisers, so much that they’re able to put themselves in the shoes of the deceased or loved ones of the late. Regardless of how much they knew the dead person.
They’ll be those whose stomachs flipped and were overcome by a dark heaviness at the news of BOSASA boss Gavin Watson dying in a car accident this week. While others couldn’t give a rat’s ass about his passing because of the alleged corruption he was involved in while alive. And then there’s the rest of us who think Mr. Watson isn’t dead, but somewhere on an island sipping Piña Coladas after staging his timely passing.
The fact is, death affects us in different ways and people have their varied methods of grieving. Take for instance how some people would choose to only speak about the good side of a person at the funeral, despite how despicable that person probably was.
But it’s also not a good look bashing a someone who can’t defend themselves, despite overwhelming evidence that they were a vile human being who deserve to rot in hell. It’s better to rather not say anything about the deceased, in public at least. Like former President Thabo Mbeki’s unfavourable comments about Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in the wake of her passing, to which Madikizela-Mandela clearly couldn’t defend.
Forcing yourself into other people’s shoes, especially at the passing of a celebrity or a popular individual only because it’s the latest craze to hashtag RIP XYZ and replace your DP with a photo of the dead person is simply faking the funk. We saw it a few months ago after Nipsey Hussle’s murder, where timelines were littered with condolence messages from individuals whose knowledge of Nipsey is cringe-worthier than a Hlaudi Motsoeneng interview. Posing as a genuine sympathiser defeats the point of it all.
Lacking the societal emotional response seems to make one look like a bad person. It would obviously be wicked to rejoice at someone’s death, but the passing of a person you didn’t particularly get along with often leaves you questioning whether you’re an evil person or not.
A fella I went to Primary and High School with died in a horrific car crash a few years ago. He was the rambunctious, conceited typa dude. I didn’t like the guy. But learning of his accident had me interrogating myself. I thought ‘gee, what an awful way to go…but it is what it is.’ I didn’t have much remorse really, mainly because his death doesn’t erase the douchebag he was and for the mere fact that his passing has no impact on me. But I can’t imagine the pain it left on his loved ones, and sadly am not allowing myself to step in their shoes.
The psychological reaction that occurs in response to perceived attack or threat to our survival is ‘the fight or flight’ response. But when death occurs in our lives, there are a myriad emotional responses and ways of grieving, it seems.
You’ve heard of it before right, the Pull Her Down Syndrome where women pull each other down, seemingly because of intimidation or gross baseless hatred toward other women. But the exaggerated animosity doesn’t stand at the Vavasati Women’s International Festival. It hasn’t for the seven years of the festival’s existence.
Today marks the fourth Friday since the festival commenced this month. The works at the festival address systemic structures of power that continue to discriminate against women, under the theme Inequality: Seizing the Megaphone! The name Vavasati is a Xitsonga word meaning women, reiterating the power and strength that women possess when they unite.
The internationally acclaimed women’s arts festival annually takes place at the State Theatre in Pretoria throughout the month of August, with over 20 works created solely by powerful creative women from different spheres of the art world- in photography, music, choreography and performance art.
“The fact that the festival is in its 7th year, already that is growth alone. Actually the State Theatre has done an amazing job to cater for women. We are enhancing the festival some more now. The budgets have grown and the number of participants or works put in the programme has increased. Some women debut their works here and others find their voice here in this platform to grow and become the best. There are collaborations that grow from and within the festival. So women can work together!” says co-curator of Vasati International Festival Mamela Nyamza. Kgaogelo Tshabalala is the other co-curator.
According to Nyamza, the programme invites (through a call out) artists and companies to submit proposals each year for the month-long fest. “When we receive them, we have readers that are asked to go through the proposals and recommend works. We went through some of the works that they have recommended. I also being new in Pretoria, I met Kgaugelo Tshalabala who knows the artists in Pretoria, and asked her to come join me in curating. We have a pool for musicians, poets, dancers and actors. Some proposals were taken out and others taken in. I made my selection and so as Kgaugelo,” she said.
The team has something novel in this year’s programme, with the Open Market and Live Music segment that take place every Sunday. This is a lively setting on an open-air rooftop towered by landmark surrounds overlooking the arts complex.
Created and inspired by women, but the festival is for all- including men and young boys who are often perpetrators of the abuse received by women and girls. So attracting a diverse audience is important for Vasati International Festival’s impact in society. “We are continuously making an awareness of the festival. With the exposure that is out there, we have been loud than ever. The participating artists have been active in the joining the campaigns. The programme is diverse in such a way that it caters across all genres. There is everything for everyone. There are educational works, provocative works and family inclusive works,”says the choreographer Nyamza.
Inclusive and progressive works are synonymous with the State Theatre, which supports young artists and has opened its doors to stimulating uncaptured work. “Including other provinces nationally and other country’s participating, already it puts State Theatre as thee theatre for Africa. This aligns with our overall vision and artistic mandate to be a pan African theatre that is inclusive in its programme offering. Already I have calls from artists abroad asking when is the next festival.”
YOU hear Bad Boy Records and instantly think New York. The mention of Death Row jogs one’s memory to Los Angeles, California. But Kalawa Jazmee is synonymous with all townships in all of South Africa. In the 25 years of Nelson Mandela’s democratic South Africa, no record company has been the soundtrack to kasi life as Kalawa Jazmee.
The record company was found through a feud between two stables, Trompies Jazzmee Records and Kalawa Records. The former was co-owned by Spikiri, Mahoota, M’jokes and Bruce while the latter’s owners were Oskido, Don Laka and DJ Christos-who departed in 1995. The dispute was over ownership of Trompies hit song Sigiya Ngengoma.
They’ve gone on to churn out more hit songs as one independent company for more than two decades now, telling stories from the township while making us dance. They’ve introduced and developed a slew of artists like Busiswa, Alaska, Professor, DJ Zinhle, Dr Malinga, Heavy K, Tira, Big Nuz and so many more. It is fitting that this year’s Delicious Festival will honour Kalawa Jazmee’s 25th anniversary.
But if one were to have a Kalawa Jazmee All Stars, many would agree that these five make the starting five.