A blog by Wandisile Sebezo
If you think about it, Kwanokuthula has got to be Plett’s MOST vibrant suburb, really, think about it. And I am not “JUST SAYING” IT, here’s why. Over the last two decades, Kwano has slowly positioned itself as the cultural and entertainment hub of the town, and POSSIBLY EVEN the entire region, if one compares the number of TOWNSHIP events held outside the City of Cape Town.
OH ALL RIGHT, I may be a little bit biased here, but what the heck. From jazz to modern dance music, from streetsmart food to traditional, from fashion design to cool hang out spots and eateries, there’s certainly never a dull moment in Kwano. Here are the shakers and movers who are pushing Kwano to greater heights, and they’re just starting.
Noloyiso ‘Nada’ Jujwana of Nada J Creations. Fashion Designer extraordinaire, inspired by life, the people around her and the community she grew up in, this Plett native has a diploma in fashion design from Damelin College, and has been designing for roughly three years in between holding down another day job – which shows the resilience and determination that this 26 year old has in pursuing her goals. She caters for all kinds of people, (well, as long as you can afford her) and does everything from matric balls to casual wear, as well as accessories like earrings and the sort. Her secret weapon is colour. She loves colours, and her designs, she says, are not influenced by one particular style but rather varying colours played out to produce things of beauty. Nada J Creations is an important milestone for the development of the arts in Kwano, an inspiration to other young and upcoming designers; she deserves support and recognition for pushing the Plett Feeling to new frontiers. Nada recently showcased her work alongside internationally renowned South African Designer, David Tlale, at the recently held 24 Hour Reunion.
Sivuyile ‘Sivu’ Nkomo is probably the most famous of the pack, known for his Kwano nightlife events, which continue to attract a growing number of young people from as far away as Cape Town, a big boost for the Kwano economy.
Although still studying for his degree in Public Relations Management at CPUT in Cape Town, Sivu started Siv Marketing and Events in 2015. Growing up in Plett he saw that events were only held indoors – at taverns and night clubs, a concern that in turn motivated him to start outdoor events in the region. #PlettChillOut is one of his most successful calendar events so far, boasting performances by the likes of award winning DJ Tira and Destruction Boys.
Dinangwe Lounge changed the outdoor experience of weekend chill, which for some time has been non-existent. I wrote about Dinangwe in June, calling it an ideal spot for a Sunday chill, well, if you fancy street smart food and live music, then Dinangwe is for you. It is run by a young couple, Lele and Siyanda, who have been in operation since 2015 and they seem to be going strong.
Skhulu’z Lounge, Kwano’s prime hang out café as things stand, is the place to be this summer – easily accessible, easy going music and great people. Managed and run by two brothers, Lebo and Tsidy, who are redefining Kwano’s nightlife scene by fusing different music genres to suit a diverse clientele. I quote and excerpt from the cover story of our Plett Wine and Food Magazine, which preceded the Plett Summer Magazine you’re reading now: “No doubt Skhulu’z Lounge is part of the fabric of the community of Plett, and its destiny seems to be intertwined with Plett’s people. It’s one of the historic social places we should celebrate more, for it also serves as a broader cultural centre for interesting conversations, music, food and entertainment”.
When you talk art in Kwano, Mncedisi Ncedani, affectionately known as ‘Ta Mnce”, knows it all. From traditional dance to stickfighting, from pottery to drama and theatre, he’s been there – little wonder he now works for Lunchbox Theatre, as a project manager and assistant director, teaching and coaching the youth in the ways of the theatrical world. Ta Mnce is also a jazz enthusiast and DJ, the music having been introduced to him by his late uncle who regularly played him records of the Dark City Sisters, Spokes (Mashiyane) and other South African classics. This helped him decide to become a Jazz DJ, and he has since played at big Plett events like the Sipho Gumede after party in 2001, the Barefoot Festival in 2002 and many other notable jazz events such as the Jazz on the Rocks at Plett Central Beach in 2016. Most recently he performed at the Plett Wine & Bubbly Festival, held in November. His style varies from South African Jazz, African Authentic and International Jazz and he dreams to play at national jazz festivals and even beyond.
Culture can be defined as the tastes in art and social habits favoured by one particular group of people and as such, varies from one social group to another. Which brings me to the ground-breaking Kwano Cycling Academy, which offers coaching and training to aspiring cyclists at Kwano’s Murray High School. It’s ground-breaking not only because it offers young pupils something to do after school instead of indulging in petty crime, but it’s also changing the lens through which young black people see the world of sport, strengthening the view that it’s okay to be something other than a soccer or a rugby player – sports considered as religion in the township community.
The program started in 2014 and has been nothing but a success story with 32 participants, seven of which are female (and growing I am told). The academy is headed by Colin Shave, and Sipho Mthembu is appointed as the new coach to train youngsters there. Our cyclists have participated in many races across the country, including the Spur High School Series, where they competed against 14 schools in the Southern Cape and came a very close third. (Had they come first or second, they would have qualified for the nationals in Johannesburg.) Other events include the Sani2c, a 280km ride over three days; the Tour de Plett; the Knysna Oyster Festival and Attakwas Mini. Programs such as these need to be celebrated, so kudos to Colin and his team for the amazing work they do to nurture and improve the lives of our youth, especially those members from historically disadvantaged communities.
Certainly Kwano is abuzz this summer, and we’re spoiled for choice. From development programs such as the Kwano Cycling Academy and theatre education to nightlife experiences and events and interesting music cafés and fashion – you’ll obviously want a piece of this ever exciting part of the Plett community. I know I would.