EKhaya Multi Arts Centre, a visionary project of KwaMashu Community Advancements Projects (K-CAP) is a world class facility with not only a rich history but a promising future as well. It was founded in 1993 by the internationally acclaimed artistic director, Edmund Mhlongo.
Mhlongo, who studied at the University of Sussex, took what he learned from the proficiency of arts centres that he came across during his time in London and brought this knowledge back home. It is this very knowledge that first drove and still drives eKhaya up to this day.
Even though eKhaya was founded in 1993, the Centre itself was only built on Giya Road at KwaMashu in the year 2003, and has its hands in performing arts, dance, music, multimedia, visual arts, film and photography. Its core purpose is to empower the youth and aspirants artists through these mediums.
“At the time when eKhaya was founded, we were coming from political unrest between the ANC (African National Congress) and the IFP (Inkatha Freedom Party) so the centre being where it is built, is a place of our [long standing] political neutrality as eKhaya,” said the centre’s manager and board member Toki Mahoto.
According to Mahoto, the biggest gap that the centre fills in KwaMashu is linking talented students (from as young as the age of five) to platforms that allow them to develop and eventually prosper in the creative industry. However, he does state that the students in their programmes need to have discipline and commitment – two traits he believes they do teach.
“Just last week Stained Glass Production Company was here holding auditions for Uzalo. Our own students were not given any privileges. They had to stand in the queue like everybody else,” he said.
Students who partake in programmes provided at eKhaya Centre are taught to grab opportunities whenever they present themselves. Therefore, they do not only mature professionally, but also in other aspects of life.
“If you come to eKhaya as student, we will not only nurture your talent. We look at you and your ambitions, your academics, your personal & home life and how your talent relates to all of these,” explained Mahoto.
Detailing what sets eKhaya apart from other art centres, Mahoto believes it’s eKhaya’s location and the political instability of surrounding areas that set it apart. He is of the opinion that the Centre being able to sustain itself in its environment is a feat enough.
“We have been able to sustain ourselves for the past 25 years because we are able to create community engagement. When we engage with the community, they become invested and protective over eKhaya. They become ambassadors to our centre,” he elaborated.
Mahoto further highlighted the importance of community engagement for eKhaya and it’s international reputation to neutrality in politics and religion too. Amongst the Centre’s long list of productions over its 25 years are the acclaimed productions We are Alive, Cry Not Child, Maskandi Fire, The Spear Is Born – Bayede Shaka, Johnny Makhathini Musical, and Amambazo, just to name a few.
It is not only these productions that have made eKhaya proud over the past 25 years. The institution has seen talents like DJ Tira, Zakes Bantwini and Zakwe through their doors. There are many more talents of the same calibre that they have nurtured.
Going forward, Mahoto says that eKhaya is looking at incorporating programmes specifically designed for disabled individuals and branching out more with its global partners. He also adds that the key to eKhaya sustaining and surviving for another 25 years is if the general public, schools and institutions are willing to partner with creative arts organisations such as theirs.
To find out more information, you may follow them on facebook: eKhaya Arts Centre, call: 031 504 6970 or Email: email@example.com
~ Thabisile Ngeleka