The Ntuzuma Youth Uprising Event, organised by Ubuciko Bomlomo Infotainment – whose members consist of a number of Activators – was open to youngsters from seven to 28 years and provided a platform for children, teenagers, adolescents and young adults to show off their skills, express themselves and tackle tough social issues.
The organisation, which has about 30 members, aims to empower youngsters through entertainment and education while promoting active citizenship in the Ntuzuma community and surrounds.
Event organiser and Activator, Silindelo Irvin, explained the origins of Ubuciko Bomlomo Infotainment, formerly Ntuzuma Poetry. “A few of us who met at Ntuzuma Library started a poetry club in 2012. It has since grown into an organisation that encompasses art and culture as well as youth development,” he said.
Irvin, who is also the chairman of Ubuciko, explained that the club started purely for arts but a number of members were experiencing social problems that they felt needed to be addressed.
“We don’t only entertain, we educate to make sure we uplift and promote local talent. We make sure we keep the youth busy after school, on weekends and during school holidays.”
They run a number of programmes weekly, including poetry sessions and Ringi Vari (held in conjunction with loveLife), a youth dialogue platform open to any youngsters who want to discuss social issues.
Every public holiday Ubuciko hosts a youth event initiative where local singers, performers, speakers and poets can engage with a wide audience on any medium. This Youth Day event, which was an overwhelming success, incorporated the spirit of the struggle heroes remembered for their sacrifices made on 16 June 1976.
“We are redefining the struggle,” explained Irvin. “The youth today are marginilised, they have no direction. We are redirecting their energy into studying and performing, giving them a platform to express themselves.”
The day’s programme included an open mic session, performances by 34 groups and talks by loveLife and ACTIVATE! members.
Ntokozo Ntleko was one of the Activators addressing the youngsters on the day. “This is such a significant day because we are redefining our struggles. We have education, our struggles are now dealing with teen pregnancy and drugs,” he said. “Programmes like ACTIVATE! provided much-needed direction for youngsters.”
Fellow Activator and speaker on the day, Phelelani Tsamba, echoed this sentiment, saying, “two people can kill a snake”.
“We need to work together, to put pressure on government and call on the leadership to create jobs.”
Tsamba added that youngsters are facing a situation where, even with further studies, job opportunities are scarce. “There are a lot of youth on the streets. We need to provide jobs.”
The talent of Ntuzuma youngsters was evident by the rousing songs, energetic dancing, moving poetry and informative talks that held a captivated audience throughout the day.
Poet and Activator, Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, performed his untitled poem which resonated with Tsamba’s comments.
“The focus of my poem today is on the lack of government grants for students,” explained Mkhwanazi, himself a student of Civil Engineering at Springfield College. Mkhwanazi often performs with fellow poet, Sanele Mgobhozi, making up the duo of “Crazy Art”.
Another group which got an impressive audience response was the traditional dance group, “Ihawu Lesizwe”, a collection of youngsters who have performed at a number of these events.
Phumlani Mkhize, 16, the drummer of the group who attends Senzokwethu High School, said they really enjoyed the opportunity to perform.
“It’s great because people get to know you and you get to explain yourselves,” said Mkhize. “We also learn so much at these events.”
Another performer, Nelly Hlophe, relished the chance to recite her poem on the topic of an ‘unkind sister’. “We can honestly express our feelings here. I really like writing poetry,” explained the young artist.
Sbusiso Mthembu attended the day to support his fellow Activators. He said occasions such as the Ntuzuma Youth Uprising Event were vital in remembering our shared history.
“Our national history and past struggles show us where we came from and guide us with where we are going. We need to reflect on what happened on 16 June so that we can decide what we must do to have a better future.”
He said the platform provided by Irvin and his team was engaging and fun for the youth.
“It’s not just speeches, it’s innovative. There’s drama, poetry and song which children can relate to.”
Irvin said that, judging by the phenomenal turnout on the day, they might have to consider a bigger venue for the next event, to be held on 9 August, Women’s Day.