Joe Slovo youth put poetry in motion

Kamvalethu Youth Club performing at the Guga Sthebe Culture and Art Centre in Langa.

Tupac Shakur’s poem, The Rose That Grew from the Concrete, explains how something beautiful can come from a hard place, and some young actors from Joe Slovo township are proving his point.

They’re using drama and dance to inspire their peers, and next month they’ll stage their first play at Milnerton Playhouse.

Members of the Kamvalethu Youth Club, a non-profit, are trying to change the story of their neighbourhood, from one of crime, poverty and social ills to one of hope, creativity and new opportunity.

The group’s play, Monopolize, will be staged at the Playhouse on Saturday May 5. Written and directed by Sixolise Sophazi, another founding member of Kamvalethu, it tells the story of Abdi Hussen who is taken from his home in Ghana and sold into slavery in South America.

They were rehearsing when Tabletalk caught up with them, but the club’s co-founder Lungelo Mtabazi, 24, told how it had got off the ground in 2010.

Mtabazi said his involvement in drama and dance stretched back to his school days at Marconi Beam Primary and later Sinenjongo High School, where in Grade 8 his classmates had encouraged him to take part in a school play.

“They saw the kind of personality I had. I loved acting things out and would always excel at things that had to do with drama even if it was class orals and so on.

“The community and people from outside the community took a liking to the arts we were doing, and in 2010 we decided to start our club that would not only be a school thing, but for the greater community.”

At first, there was a groundswell of community support for the group. Families were happy to see a positive alternative to negative influences in the neighbourhood. But as time went by the novelty wore off and people started to lose interest.

“Parents were also struggling to pay for their children to attend talent shows around the city, especially since the youngsters were performing without getting paid.

But despite that drop-off in interest, the group has persevered, and it still has 15 active members and five others who take part from time to time.

“We are really excited about the show at the Playhouse, as we feel that we will have a bigger audience to showcase our talents in front of,” said Mtabazi.

Monopolize will be playing at the Milnerton Playhouse on Saturday May 5 at 7pm.

Bookings can be made by calling 082 267 1061 or email or and tickets are R40.