The Art of Driving Change

My name is Luyanda Nodilinga from the Eastern Cape but I currently reside in the Western Cape, Kraaifontein. I’m 29-years old and was part of ACTIVATE! class of 2013.

What is your area of interest/passion?

I have and will be an always artist/performer. I love art because it connects me to things I have never dreamed of. My art has taken me to places I could not imagine, I have interests in music, dance, acting and a bit of poetry. Give me a stage and I will use it.     

How are you driving change?

I am driving change through an organisation called Light of Life theatre,. It’s been in existence since 2009 (7 years now). We have been training our peers for performing arts in our community. A lot of them have joined and grown to be university students, drama and movie actors. We have also inspired other youth to start their own organisations, so there has been big love and activity in the performing arts.                                                   

How has ACTIVATE! supported you in driving change?

ACTIVATE! has played a role of capacity building for me. Since the ACTIVATE training programme, my organisation has grown because we now  have a clearer vision of how we are going to move forward. We even won big festivals after 2013, such as the Zabalaza best fringe production, Artscape High Drama festival and we represented the Western Cape at the  Market Theatre in Johannesburg. Training taught me lots in terms of project running, leadership, etc.   

What is your take on the recognition of performing arts in South Africa?

Recognition for Arts and Culture is a disgrace.  The budget for Arts was 11 billion allocation from government. Small organisations like mine do not get anything from that budget.  We only survive through fundraising and by attending festivals. Therefore, art is not prioritised in our government even though a lot of young people are artists . We push our work without any support from the Arts and Culture Department.

How do you reinforce/celebrate culture in the work that you do?

We celebrate culture by producing content (poetry, music, dance and acting) using our home language, and we make productions that speak about culture and traditions. We had worked on a production called Ndenzeni. It was about a child who must accept the calling for being isangoma but his father was Christian. We believe that culture shapes our being.

What should be the priority in setting the agenda for South Africa in the next 5 years?

Art should be prioritised because it can build harmony among citizens.  With art in demand we could contribute towards addressing many social ills.  Many young people would realise their gifts and talent, and this would be inclusive of young people of all ages:  from ECD to tertiary level.

What inspired ‘Ndenzeni’ the play?

We had a brainstorming session about the clash of culture and westernisation/Christianity. We did some research on these dynamics, and then coined the production. The interesting aspect of the play is that it is generational; the ancestors “declare” that if they can’t get through the son (spiritually), they will get through the grandchildren. So it plays a lot on our belief systems and what has shaped us to this day.               

How do you motivate yourself?

My motivation is the constant reminder that whatever hustling and struggling we facing now, all the work will yield results and we will be rewarded ten years from now.

Final Comment

Art is life, life is art. To me it is healing and a space to be whatever I want to be. Watch out for Light Of Life Theatre because we’re going to be a big name in the South African Arts and Culture space.


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