02 July, 2011

Place of Blood

Outreach centre in Joza townships, Grahamstown

The Egazini  Outreach Project, functions in a building which was used by the apartheid riot police for the incarceration and torture of political activists in Makana, mostly innocent black people. The building has since transformed into a studio space for local artists and crafters to showcase their talents. The centre is filled with visual art pieces and crafts created by local artists.


The centre also acts as a developmental centre, teaching youngsters all other forms of art, including dance, music and theatre. Egazini has a production which it has created to be performed at the National Arts Festival called The Extraordinary Khotso Sethuntsa.  This outreach centre has collaborated with the Ikhaya Theatre Company, its sub-project established in 2005. Together they continues to give support to local artists, providing them with a platform where they showcase their talents under very difficult circumstances. The centre is faced with  multiple challenges, which are lack of funding, recognition and support from the government, media and local business sectors. However, this does not stop their goal of teaching and engaging the community, particularly the youth, into arts.
Bongani Dike chatting to us about his art life and Egazini and Ikhaya

Bongani Diko is the engine behind the centre. He is the man responsible for transforming what was once a place of human suffering and blood-shed into a developmental space where the youth is trained in arts and cultural skills. Diko left his job at the Rhodes University Drama Department to open up Egazini and Ikhaya. He says he did so because he wanted to benefit the community and “evoke the spirits of cultural groups”. “I left the job because I had to do something for the many instead of myself,” he says sincerely.

Bongani is a playwright and director. An actor and secretary of Ikhaya, Nomfanelo Maholwa, describes Bongani as a parent, helper, advisor and an amazing writer. His background influenced him to be involved in arts. He grew up in the era where art was used to convince the Nationalist government to abolish the apartheid system. “Art was injected into me by the community I grew up in and now it’s an addiction as I’m addicted to it,” he says blissfully. The love of arts clearly runs in the family, as Bongani's older brother, Linga Diko, is a baltic artist, his pieces currently displayed all over the centre. 

Daniwe Gongqa showing us the painting she did on Winnie Mandela
One of the most exceptional artists in the centre is the 82 year old, Daniwe Gongqa, who makes visual art pieces that narrates the stories of hardship, Xhosa culture and rural life. One of her compelling masterpieces is a painting she did on Winnie Mandela fighting for the release of her then husband, Nelson Mandela from Robing Island. She created the painting because she feels connected to it as she also fought for her son whom was incarcerated and beaten up by the apartheid government. 

By: Sibulele Magini and Khutso Maboleka

1 comment:

busisiwe 11 said...

i think it is very important for people to remember where they come from, South Africa has a rich history and i like the fact that the initiatives such as this one are sustaining that rich history.