Constitution Hill reverberated to the sounds of rap music and poetry during the Basha Uhuru Festival attended by scores of youths from Alexandra this week.
The festival formed part of the first leg of “My Alex”, a youth’s perception programme involving 15 young people trained over four weeks by officials of the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA), the City of Johannesburg’s infrastructure development entity, in partnership with Coloured Cube to express their views about Alexandra.
On Wednesday night, the group gave a five-star performance of poetry, songs, acting, bmx’ing, martial arts and rap music.
Twenty-two-year-old Richard Sikhari said he drew his inspiration from his surroundings and used rap to communicate with his peers. He writes about lifestyle, dialect, history and culture of the township that used to be called “Dark City” because of the lack of electricity in the 1960s.
“Tonight we fused our performances to deliver one message to the youth – commemorating the 1976 legacy. These included music, poetry, re-enactment of 1976 and bmx’ing,” he said.
Matthew Dowdle, the curator of the festival, said “My Alex” project would run until the end of June as part of Youth Month celebrations.
“The idea is to promote and showcase the top creatives in Johannesburg and South Africa, to create a platform where creatives from all different types of mediums and disciplines can showcase their work to the audience and promote themselves.
“We’re creating a narrative that talks about what it is and what it means to be a young creative in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2016, 40 years after the Soweto uprising,” he said.
In a play titled Meat Lust Purge, Sthe Khali, 29, who is pursuing a Master’s degree in drama at Wits University, said it took him three weeks to prepare for the festival. He said the play carried a profound message for the audience.
“The play depicts how in life people go through certain stages, where they sell their souls. Someway the human being is never fully cleansed.
“We focused on religion, relationships and sexual orientations. The idea was to look at life and death and observe what happens between the two,” said Khali.
Anthea Moys, who facilitated the youth training workshops, said the participants were encouraged to express their perceptions of Alexandra.
“The task for these youths was to creatively express how they felt about their space. How they perceived Alex. It was also about celebrating their space and themselves,” she said.