Home News Locals scoop awards at National Arts Festival

Locals scoop awards at National Arts Festival

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Two local production groups, Thapelo Tshite Arts Development and Amandla Dança Teatro ZA, brought home a gold and a bronze award during the 2022 National Arts Festival in Makhada, Grahamstown.

The Emsini cast and crew. Picture: Supplied

TWO LOCAL production groups, Thapelo Tshite Arts Development and Amandla Dança Teatro ZA, from the Francis Baard District brought home a gold and a bronze award during the 2022 National Arts Festival in Makhada, Grahamstown.

Thapelo Tshite Arts Development won gold for Emsini and Amanda Danca Teatro bronze for the production Nomapondo.

Six productions from the Northern Cape participated in the 11-day festival with two productions from Upington and four from Kimberley.

It is the first time that Emsini was taken to the festival after it was produced in November 2021 while Amandla Dança Teatro ZA brough home their third award.

They won silver with Emathogeni in 2018, and the Cut Above Award for Unthombo in 2019.

When they returned home they received a warm welcome from the MEC for the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, Desery Finies, and officials from the Sol Plaatje Municipality.

They told the MEC of the challenges they faced while staying in Grahamstown, saying that they had to make several sacrifices just to reach their goal of participating in the festival.

They said they struggled with transport, food, accommodation and incentives for the artists throughout their journey.

The department partnered with the municipality to assist the production teams with accommodation, catering and transport.

Finies expressed pride from the Province, and recognised the risks that the artists take to ensure that they tell their stories through their art.

She said the challenges that the artists face are due to the department’s limited budget and admitted that the department tried to help with transport, although it was not very efficient.

“They still need financial support in that regard,” said Finies. “The department needs to approach the private sector, including solar companies and mines, in order for them to contribute to society.”

Thapelo Tshite, the director of Thapelo Tshite Youth Development, said they saw the need to go and show the world that there is talent in the Northern Cape, regardless of the financial challenges.

Emsini is a play that focusses on an incident that happened in Galeshewe.

“Other provinces have to see what Galeshewe is all about. We will be proud if the production can also go abroad at some stage. It is through such achievements that they will know about us, and that there is talent here,” said Tshite.

“The road to the festival was not that smooth. We struggled with transport, accommodation and payment for artists, which we still do not have.

“Luckily the department and our local municipality came on board and assisted as far as they could.”

Tshite made a commitment to return Emsini to the local theatre for the community to see.

Monwabisi Bangiwe Ka Jobela from Amandla Dança Teatro ZA said Nomaphondo is a story about the Chiwala, which is half human and half springbok.

He said that the award that they won means a lot to them.

“People now know about Nomaphondo, about Kimberley, and about how beautiful and talented it is. I am really over the moon about this and I hope our kids can learn from this as well.”

Bangiwe Ka Jobela said the next step is for him to start working with more young people in order to produce more exciting musicals like Nomaphondo.

The artist director at the Northern Theatre, Moagi Modise, expressed his pride in the teams who committed to come to the party and worked hard under strenuous conditions.

“I am grateful to the department for playing a role, but I hope that they can do more so that we are better prepared when we return to Grahamstown next year,” said Modise.

He said he was hoping that every district will be represented in Grahamstown next year. “We can only do that if we are fully supported.

“We will then be able to tell our stories and introduce ourselves to the rest of the country and hopefully the world. There are writers in all the districts, whom we have not yet reached.”

Monwabisi Bangiwe Ka Jobela from Amandla Dança Teatro ZA with the bronze awards they won.
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