Nxharuni’s Bushula puts traditional practice at the forefront to help youth

Changing lives with a song and a dance

An Nxharuni woman who began traditional singing and dance classes in Johannesburg as a way to entertain children as an extramural activity has returned to her home village near Mdantsane to uplift the children in her community.
Community activist Thandi Bushula, who worked as a child minder in Jozi, says that is where her passion to work with children began.
She then formed a traditional Xhosa dance group, Madiba Beat Crew, which caters for young and old.
In a drive to steer young disadvantaged people away from crime and drug abuse, Bushula decided to return to her home village in 2017 to try find ways to assist through teaching traditional African dancing and singing.
“Our community is riddled with drug abuse and acts of violence which can be traumatic to a child’s psyche. My aim is to take them away from that life and provide a conducive distraction that will keep them away from self-destruction,” said a passionate Bushula.
Bushula, who funds the dancing project from her own pocket, says it is important to create unity in a broken society.
“I buy the dance outfits. We have so much talent in the community, so we use beadwork created by our community to accessorise. We do everything ourselves. This project is not about making money. If we could get material like iimibhaco and beads, that would make our performances shine even more. The handcraft work is what brings everyone together through teamwork,” she said
Bushula wants disadvantaged young people to see beyond their current situations.
She says that singing and dancing bring people together and participation is not limited by age.
“The Madiba Beat Crew comprises different age groups. The young people in the community are so excited about this project.
They flock to my home and the community hall after school to sing and dance. In a separate group (also called The Madiba Beat Crew) we have the older women who also do traditional dancing and singing,” she said.
“All this work I do, is a group effort. Children need to be taken care of holistically and so something like a clothing collection drive would help so many of our young people who struggle with clothes and shoes to wear.
“What excites me is that there are children who want to better their lives. We even have a hip hop group on the horizon. We have a lot of talent,” said Bushula.
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