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:
PREVIOUSLY the local wine industry had its focus on the export market, but has in recent times recognised the local market as a significant player. The attitude towards wine and its consumption has drastically changed in South Africa in the last decade, especially among urban black people.
My supposition is backed by Dr. Carla Weightman’s 2018 research which focused on the perceptions of local consumers towards wine. The PhD graduate (in wine biotechnology) focused on two specific wine-consuming groups, urban black and white wine drinkers. In years gone by, the latter made up the majority of wine consumers in the urban jungles of the country, but thina abantu have become the leading consumers-accounting for 80% according to Weightman’s research.
But nothing demonstrates the urban black’s newfound relationship with the beautifully aging drink, like a 22 year-old African owning a brand of wine, purely from passion. He’s 26 years-old now, but Prince Moeng was that 22 year-old when he found Moeng Wines in 2015. “My first encounter was at corporate events and it was love at first sip. I started having wine with all my meals and trying different varietals with it. Then I would do food pairings. It got to a point where I tried a different bottle of wine every day. That is how I grew my love for wine and eventually had the idea of owning my own wine brand. That is when I started researching about the wine industry and the making of wine. I can’t say I grew up drinking wine as my parents were strict and them being pastors didn’t make my decision any easy,” says Moeng.
Four years in business now, the Moeng Wines is a self-distributed brand which has found its place at selected restaurants around Gauteng, while increasing its market presence through events and collaborations with corporates. “This means that people that want our wine can visit our website and order directly from there and the wine will be delivered. We also hand pick restaurants and wine bars that meet our standards to distribute our products,” shares Moeng.
Moeng didn’t want to disclose Moeng Wines’ demographics but his hosting of Wine Masterclasses at Mambisa’s monthly entrepreneurs gathering Startup Grind Tembisa, indicates that his brand grows in tandem with urban black people’s appreciation for wines.
The business was found in Mahikeng but is now based in Centurion. “Some of the challenges about running a winery include distribution, particularly with the high competition in the country. Being based in Gauteng also has its own challenges, with some of the key resources being based in Cape Town.”
Despite the adversities of business, Moeng has had the Deputy Minister of Small Business Department as a guest at their annual gala dinner and Moeng Wines has enjoyed the perks of product placement in the film She Is King.
He runs the brand with a small group of six but like any entrepreneur, he envisions expansion for his business. “We aim at being the premium wine of choice across the continent. We also look into introducing more young wine makers into the industry.”