Wednesday, 05 October 2011, was a stunning spring day in the beautiful Mother City. I headed down to the Castle of Good Hope, camera in tow, and eagerly looking forward to the third (and sadly the final) day of the School Holiday Youth Development Program.
That day, it was the turn of the beautifully attired and decorated Marimba Dancers of the Likhwezi Arts Project to delight the throngs of spectators at the Castle with their high-energy song and dance routines.
Here is a little bit about the history of this amazing organisation:
- The Likhwezi Arts Project (meaning “Morning Star”) was established by Pamela Mtati in February 2003 as a professional self-sustaining group and community service organisation.
- The group’s repertoire combines song and dance from a variety of Southern African cultures, accompanied by marimbas, drums and percussion. The group also specialise in contemporary, Spanish dance, Gumboot dance, Khwela, etc.
- All members come from historically disadvantaged communities and between them have a diverse range of talents, qualifications and experience, covering teaching, singing, acting and dancing.
- The project has chosen to expand by working with children who come from different parts of the townships (Gugulethu, Nyanga and Khayelitsha).
- The project currently reaches about 50 children; about 20-30 children attend each class, and attendance is steadily increasing because they are no other recreational facilities in these areas. They do not charge any fees.
- Their aim is to get the township children off the streets, and to teach them singing, dancing, acting and musical skills. They want to make the youngsters aware that the arts can and do offer a career, and they thus seek to create jobs in the performing arts industry.
- They use their performances to raise awareness around vital issues, such as HIV/AIDS, drug and alcohol abuse, crime, poverty and child abuse, as well as to empower the kids by teaching them skills, encouraging them to think, and fostering their imagination.
- Their talented dancers have performed at several corporate 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer events and have collaborated with well-known artists both nationally and internationally.
And now you can sit back and enjoy their show.
Honestly, their enthusiasm, passion and sheer joy completely blew me away. I wish I could add some suitable background music and a video clip or two to this slideshow to convey the experience. If you ever have an opportunity to see them perform live, go and see them!