By Frerieke van Bree
“The City of Cape Town sponsored the Khayelitsha Festival Business Tour because we believe it will stimulate growth and development among emerging businesses in Khayelitsha. Further investment is essential to addressing the key developmental challenges of the region. We need to increase business and job opportunities in order to improve living standards and promote overall growth in Cape Town’s economy.” So says Cape Town Executive Mayor, Helen Zille.
Businesses, social entrepreneurs, NGO’s, governmental structures, musicians, youth and other individuals from different (local) communities gathered this weekend in the OR Tambo hall in township Khayelitsha, Cape Town to celebrate and further explore the potential and opportunities that this emerging place (township khayelitsha) offers during the 3 day event, the Khayelitsha festival!
Our friends of the Heart of Healing (you’ll find Rufus of the Heart of Healing in the above photograph) co-organized this 3 day festival, which is based on the very successful Soweto Festival that has been organized over the last 3 years in Soweto, the black urban area in Johannesburg.
Three days of music, entertainment and information market attracted young and old, rich and poor. The Khayelitsha festival (that says on it’s website to be “free”) did leave out the poorest though… It was heartbreaking to see all those individuals (mostly youngsters/children) begging at the gate in order to collect the 10 Rand (to be compared more or less with the price of one bread and a pack of milk) that the entrée would cost them.
I received some free tickets for the COSAT students to attend the festival. One of the COSAT learners, Dinono even performed live on stage! Dinono shared her poem with lots of passion and dedication with hundreds of youngsters around the stage. Well done girl! (unfortunately, the sound of the attached video is very bad, but please be inspired by this young individual that is so full of fire). Dinono…please share your poem with us here online?! And also your story about it and around it!
What an opportunities in Khayelitsha. It is a booming business…you better be there and be there now, because hey….(soccer worldcup) 2010 is around the corner and before we know, all shacks will be replaced by mixed used developments! Apartments, retail, offices, public nodes….a diverse and lively place for all! (at least….if we choose to make this happen!)
It takes a woman with balls (respect for Cape Town mayor Helen Zille!) to be a stand for transformation and development!
Local government officials within the building department that we (architects) are dealing with, seem to lack these balls to take responsibility and make the decisions that will enable investors/architects/community to make development plans reality. A few weeks ago, after a meeting I had within the community (to design development plans together with community), I spoke on the phone with one of those (local) government officials and was told to “stay away from local community, because we (government) will be hold accountable for the false hope you (the architects) create and as a result, the community will blame us (government).”…yeah sure…15 years after the end of Apartheid and still so many people struggle to keep the rain outside of the tin board structures and try to avoid being raped during the dark night (no street lights) on their way from shack to public outhouse…. Who to blame for this mister local government official? Why do you choose the way of no commitment, no passion, no action?
I see the Khayelitsha festival, with the created connections between investors and potential as a first step in the process towards actual implementation of development plans.
It takes secondly more individuals like Helen Zille in council who understand that risks need to be taken to see actual transformation in Africa. It takes government officials in the building sector who are willing to take responsibility, who are willing to open their eyes towards development and are willing to work together with passionate planners/developers/architects (like us www.makekadesigns.com). A Paradigm shift within council is a crucial step in the process towards actual implementation. It is an important shift that will lead to improved living standards and increase of economic situation in the Township!
Opportunities can’t be seen unless we choose to discover our blind spots….it takes courage and commitment to take on this new paradigm of thinking. This challenging exercise might appear to be a very scary one; shifting away from the known to the unknown (away from our comfort zone) is not something that we do on a regular base….not a government official, nor you or me…Opportunity and transformation will be experienced if we choose to do so!