Sowetan, Bonginkosi Madondo, says he is driven by the love of art, African culture and traditions and as a result has participated in various theatre productions such as Amasiko and Devil Protest. He started performing at the Positive Art Society in Phiri Hall in the township in 2003. Through the legacy of the late Thembinkosi Nkabinde who was the founder of the group, Bonginkosi has taken over the initiative.
“Art is something for us performers to tell those untold stories. It heals spiritually,” says Bonginkosi.
The 29 year old who is also gumboot dancer and choreographer believes that one can make a living out of art.
“I have raised a kid and built a place to sleep in through art. Everyone who loves art can achieve his/her dreams,” he explains. Walking around Soweto it becomes apparent that the arts are keeping many children off the streets.
Mkhonto Arts and Cultural Group is one of the few art groups that are growing in the township. The group involves different aspects of art such as tap dancing, drama, gumboot dancing, etc. It is based in Phiri Hall, Soweto and caters for youngsters from High school to those who have completed their schooling.
The group has performed at President Jacob Zuma’s Inauguration and at the recent Siyabakhumbula Awards on 25 June this year at Gallagher Estate, Midrand. Through their hard work and determination they have showcased their art skills in countries such as Spain, Austria and so on.
As any group growing in the township, they also experience challenges such as a lack of funding. The group master feels that there is still a lack of recognition of South African actors and he does not agree with the fact that international stars come to the country and portray icons like Nelson Mandela and his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
“If Soweto is known worldwide, why don’t they fund it? It is all about making money but not empowering our South African artists,” he elaborates.
20-year-old Zanele Sibisi joined the group three years ago and believes that participating in such activities helps her from getting up to mischief. “I benefit a lot from the group and it takes me away from drugs,” she explains.
Tap dancing is one of the activities that are growing in the country and Mduduzi Buthelezi says he is ready to go an extra mile to make it in this genre of dance.
“I want to achieve big time in my career. Many [black] people don’t know much about tap dancing, whites are exposed to it and I want to change the perception that it is meant for whites,” he stresses.
The group is planning on telling the stories of human trafficking and is currently preparing for a Pan African festival to take place in Algeria next month.