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Sonwa Sakuba provides stage for local talent to shine

Local Hero nominee Sonwa Sakuba, 31, from Cambridge has been using his institute of the Arts to not only create a platform for local talent, but to nurture creative expression for underprivileged children.
Local Hero nominee Sonwa Sakuba, 31, from Cambridge has been using his institute of the Arts to not only create a platform for local talent, but to nurture creative expression for underprivileged children.
Image: MICHAEL PINYANA

Local Hero nominee Sonwa Sakuba, 31, from Cambridge, has been using his arts institute to not only create a platform for local talent, but to nurture creative expression for underprivileged children.

Since its inception in 2020, the Sonwa Sakuba Institute for the Performing Arts has prioritised its outreach programme, offering weekly dance classes to more than 40 children from Mdantsane. 

Sakuba said: “The arts are for the people and should be given back to the people; they give children the ability to express themselves.

If you are able to give a child the tools to communicate their stories, through a song or dance, it can help heal past trauma

“If you are able to give a child the tools to communicate their stories, through a song or dance, it can help heal past trauma.” 

Sakuba said he hoped to use the institute as a safe space for children, away from their daily lives.

“I wanted to bring them into the studio and expose them to a different setting, away from the streets, where they can just have fun and play.”

Transport is organised on Saturday mornings for the group, who all receive a juice and snack on arrival. 

He said: “We have been trying to find a sponsor to give them a nice meal, hopefully from a stall at Hemingways where we are based.

“These kids come from the Inganathi Dance Company. Some of our current students come from them and now study with us.”

The institute also has an extensive scholarship programme for first and second year students.

“We currently have 22 students in our full programme on scholarships.

It’s so painful to have to say no to someone because they can’t pay the fees. Some of their families also won’t let them go into the arts because it’s not seen as a proper career

“We see how brilliant they are.

“It’s so painful to have to say no to someone because they can’t pay the fees.

“Some of their families also won’t let them go into the arts because it’s not seen as a proper career.” 

But Sakuba has forged on in helping create opportunities for all of those under his tutelage. 

“We are opening our Moana musical on Tuesday at the Guild Theatre where four of the cast members come from the Inganathi Dance Company.

“We were so lucky to be given the rights to put on the Moana musical.

“Most — even some of my full-time students —  have never been to a theatre, so it’s amazing to show them the magic of what one can make out of a new space.”

Nominator and student Mzamo Kunene said he had nominated Sakuba because of his work with the province’s youth.

Kunene said: “Mr Sakuba is contributing to the upliftment of young talent through art.

“He took a group of his students to the National Arts Festival in Makhanda where they received a Standard Bank Ovation award for their amazing performance.

The platform he is providing for the youth is very important

“The platform he is providing for the youth is very important.”

Sakuba said: “NAF was amazing; we held fundraising events for a smaller cast of our show Afrika Sings! but nearly didnt go because of a lack of funding.

“At the last minute we received a sponsor for the entire trip — I was so shocked and grateful.

“We started with nothing and now people are noticing the work we are doing for these kids.”

DispatchLIVE


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