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  • Writer's pictureThuthukani "TK" Ndlovu

Ub'Dope eSibikwa

// When dope creatives & dope organizations collaborate ; #UbDOPEeSIBIKWA //

Wassup wassup fam. I hope you are all great and making the best of the remainder of the month, while navigating through this new normal. For today, I'll be talking about a dope collaboration that started at the beginning of this month, that y'all need to know about. As always, we try to keep you up to date with dope creatives and organizations around the country doing dope things, so let's dive straight into this fam.

In its 33rd year of developing world-class creatives, the multi-disciplinary arts and culture service provider, Sibikwa Arts Centre has forged a unique partnership with Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year, Jefferson Bobs Tshabalala of Ub’Dope Shishini. Dubbed "Ub’Dope eSibikwa", this partnership is for a season of dynamic performances and workshops which started on the first of February and will end on the 31st March 2021. For those not so familiar with Sibikwa Art Centre, it is a visionary arts center situated in Benoni (East of Joburg) that promotes quality arts education, performance, vocational training and job creation in South Africa.

Naledi Lifetime Achievement Award recipients Smal Ndaba and Phyllis Klotz were ardent agents of destiny when they crossed and merged paths in the year 1988. Bra Smal an initiator of arts programmes that assist street children and juvenile prisoners, and Mam’Phillis in the forefront of arts training and development for girls and young women. The duo gave life to and nurtured what was to be called by many “ikhaya lethu” (our home). They proceeded to name their scion Sibikwa Art Centre. I was privileged to have a chat with Bra Smal in order to get an insight on the Art center and his expectations on their most recent collaboration, and I must say that it was an ecstatic experience. The longer the conversation went on, as he highlighted the center's journey leading up to today, the more I began to realize how significant and how ideal it was for them to collaborate with the multi-award winning theater maker Jefferson Tshabalala and Ub'Dope Shishini, during a season that has really impacted the Creative industry and a lot of communities.

[Top left, top right & bottom right images: The Ub'Dope eSibikwa team]

[Bottom left image (left to right): Smal Ndaba ; Phyllis Klotz ; Jefferson Tshabalala ]

Bra Smal spoke about how the centre uses an experimental workshop learning process to educate and develop the capacities of the youth, which has proven to be effective because of how practical it is: for example, in as much as students may use/ access theory, videos and teachings related to theater, 1 of the best ways theater students have also learned is through taking advantage of, and using references from their existing environments. So instead of just learning a new artform, one gets to experiment what they learn with what they are directly exposed to within their respective community. This makes the learning process way more relatable and easier to comprehend, especially when applied in different disciplines & centered around social issues.

"The centre has always had a problem-solving-approach towards developing the youth, not only for them to learn new Artistic disciplines, but also for them to develop basic skills that can help them execute their creativity and play a significant role in society. So in as much as we're in a pandemic that has affected communities (a problem), we found it important to still create a safe space - that adheres to national health regulations - and an opportunity for the youth to learn and be inspired during these challenging times (a solution)." - Smal Ndaba. The Artistic Director of Sibikwa Arts Centre, Mam’Phillis shared her view on the ongoing Ub’Dope eSibikwa partnership and stated the following: “We found it imperative to keep the flame of innovation and creativity burning at Sibikwa, by bringing in fresh and young ideas and voices, and the young Ub’Dope Team.”

“This collaboration will inject vigorous activities at Sibikwa wherein a slew of dynamic young artists who are already formidable practitioners will share their skills and talents with the youth and community of East Jozi,” notes Tshabalala. “I will be facilitating workshops on performance, writing and directing to East Rand youths, and through my network, I have invited other dope people to bring more Dopeness to Sibikwa”. If you've been following the blog for the past few years, then I'm sure by now you already know why we had to jump on board and not just publish 1 article about this dope collaboration, but instead keep you guys in the loop on a weekly basis (as of today), because there is just so much dopeness involved fam. So if you're based in East Jozi, or know someone who is and would be interested in being part of this eclectic program, then make sure you attend fam. I can only imagine the wealth of knowledge that will be made available for the duration of this collaboration.

Now, if you're not in East jozi then don't worry, because you can still experience some of the dope initiatives they have in store. Ub'Dope eSibikwa will also have an online program that we can all be part of from our different locations, and in order to stay tuned, all we gotta do is follow the CEO of Ub'Dope Shishini "Jeffereson Tshabalala" on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (@JBobsTshabalala), as well as Sibikwa Arts Centre and Ubdope Shishini's social media pages. One of the cool features of the collaboration is the daily posts containing nuggets about the creative industry from a variety of experienced stakeholders, so you're bound to learn something new and dope every day (until the 31st of March). How dope is that fam?

We'll also be sharing the updates on our socials as well, but do subscribe to this site for the weekly updates. As usual, there are hashtags that you also gotta check out and that will also give you more information about some of the dope programs such as the #30DaysForTheKids and #30DayVukaActorChallenge (for people's fitness and wellbeing) , but don't forget to also follow #UbDOPEeSIBIKWA (and if you're attending one of the events, remember to use this hashtag to let people know online). The streaming platform for some of the online programming is Watcha Tv and tickets can be bought at , but please note and remember that the physical workshops at the Sibikwa Arts Centre (in Benoni) are free (mahala). It's really great that the Ub'Dope eSibikwa program provides an opportunity for people to still participate from their homes, so there's no excuse on why any of us should miss out on the dopeness that this collaboration has in store. Don't say I never told ya!

That's about it for now fam, and I hope you're as excited as I am. Don't forget to subscribe to this site (below), and share this article with your clique and your fam. You know where to find me on these social media streets (@2tukani on Instagram and Twitter), and until the next article, stay safe, dope and blessed fam. Peace!!!


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