Mdantsane is a unique, vibrating, eclectic, African place. Follow us on a pilgrimage to Mdantsane to discover the street culture, fashion, food, people, music, homes, taverns, humor, businesses, history and what's hot in the second biggest township in South-Africa, located close to the city of East London in the Province of the Eastern Cape. Join us on this journey while we capture the spirit of this amazing place for you in the here and in the now. We are going to introduce you to many individuals, artists, musicians, groups and associations.
They are the HEROES OF DAILY LIFE. They are the people who create, innovate and improve their life and their stories deserve to be told. This is a place for only good and positive stories of humanity, that will send out a message of courage, endurance and strength to the world through their pictures and words.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas And Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays To All Our Readers

The team of The Mdantsane Way Magazine wishes all our readers, young and old, South African and International a wonderful Christmas and Happy Holidays!  Thank you for your support during 2012.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Zingisa Zang Nkosinkulu - Welcome to COUCHLOCKPROJECTS

Today we are introducing you to the blog of Zingisa Zang Nkosinkulu -The Art of Zang.
Welcome to COUCHLOCKPROJECTS for Arts development/ Exhibition/ Projects/ Hip Hop/Graffiti

Zang has contacted a couple of days ago The Mdantsane Way Magazine and left us his link. We followed up (it took a while, like always) but what we have seen is very interesting and stimulating!

Who is Zang? First of all he is born and bred in Mdantsane.

That makes him so interesting for us. And he is another perfect showcase of Mdantsane talent. Great talent, that has unfortunately left the township but we understand, you have to go where you can find a living.

Here is Zang in his own words:
Zang, living today in Pretoria in Gauteng was born and raised in the Township of Mdantsane, Eastern Cape. 
He acquired his diploma in Fine Art at NMMU, his B-Tech at WSU and is currently studying towards his Master’s in Visual Art at UNISA. He worked at Belgravia Art Centre while in East London as an art teacher for five years. 
After that he joined the team at UNISA Art Gallery as a gallery assistant. Zang is a Visual/ Graffiti Artist with a Calling to use ART as a Mediator to TRANCEND beyond conditions of his birth place. 
To bring new hope, share Creative Wisdom and Encourage youth to be ARTISTIC, EDUCATED and Conscious Individuals. Art is a way he lives trying to relate to the world in a CREATIVE and SPIRITUAL ways. Zang believes in working in creative collaborative projects and workshops to develop the Artistic Underdeveloped Communities.

Zang's Studio from where he works. Images by Zang
Zang's Studio, work in progress, All Images are by Zang himself

That is what we also believe in. We see art as a tool of expression of the society we live in but also as one of the most powerful transformation tools. The place one is born into is not the place one is confined to for the rest of one's life. 

We have taken a few images from Zang's blog but we do not have the intention to tell his story for him because he is already doing a good job telling his story himself and presenting himself and his art to the world. We really invite you to go over to his blog and have a look at his artwork! 


There is a series called Laetitia, a life drawing exercise he did with candle smoke and other materials. We have been absolutely impressed by this mixed media art piece.

My Culture - My Technology- Vanishing Values Of The Xhosa Tradition

In my culture my technology he deals with the theme of the culture of the Xhosa people, that is being treatened by technology. 
Zang says: "Technology is a symbol of change and technology weakens things of value. For instance, now the are new circumsizing tools, that are governmental or hospital tools. Now the traditional spear used to remove foreskin will be forgotten. Now children sit down and play with their cellphone they do not sit around the fire and wait for their grandmother to tell them stories."

His artwork is of course for sale and as every artist in this world he needs the community's support. All his contact details are on his blog.

Zingisa Zang Nkosinkulu

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Unknown Street Musician Of Oxfordstreet 36 Years Ago - The Photography Of Rob Mellin

36 years ago there was music on Oxfordstreet!

Unknown Street Musician At The Corner Oxford And Terminus Street 36 Years Ago, East London South Africa

There is a reason for everything and there is also a reason why this image has found its way into our magazine 36 years after it was taken. 

You probably remember, that we have started a research project and are busy collecting material to set up a digital archive for old Mdantsane and East London images. The archive will be made up of images coming from local families and from photographers of diverse backgrounds, who are generously allowing us to digitalise their family treasures. 

Let us tell you the interesting story behind this beautiful historical photograph.

Chocolat, our publisher and founder of the magazine met a while ago a gentleman in a second hand shop, who shared her passion for old records. The gentleman of name Rob had already too many records but Chocolat was still buying and adding to her collection. So Rob promised her to give her some records. And he did - to the great excitement of Chocolat. When she visited Rob's house to collect the records they started chatting and she was in for another surprise. They shared another passion, photography.

Rob Mellin worked as a photographer and photojournalist for the Daily Dispatch newspaper for 18 years. He is retired since eleven years. Rob has a rich and turbulent past. He started taking up photography in the 1970s as a hobby, but soon his hobby became his work. He took pictures for the at the time "Rhodesian Air force". He said working for the air force was the turning point of his life.
"It was my experience with the air force, that laid the foundation for a career in journalism. Whenever I held a camera I felt compelled to take news worthy pictures".

While he was staying in Zimbabwe his images were published in a community newspaper and this was the inspiration he needed to work relentlessly towards a career as a photographer. In 1983 he eventually joined the Daily Dispatch.

There are two sides to his photography. There is the more conventional work he did for the newspaper he worked for. But he also had an interest in the local African culture, which was rare at the time and the black and white images he shot are testimonials of East London's history and street culture. His photography is art.

Rob Mellin is a photographer of the old school, before the digital photography saw the light of the day. He is an artist who knows all the tools of the trade. He knows how to develop a picture in a drak room..
The day when Chocolat visited him, he showed her treasures she did not think she would see this day. His darkroom, though hardly used now is fully intact and his collection of non archived negatives, slides and photos must amount to the thousands.
"We were under sanctions these days and we could not get material from Agfa, so we worked with Ilford Paper and Developer. But I started making my own developing liquid and you can see I have done a good job because this picture is 36 years old."

The picture we published today, he took while he was on what was called "an open assignment" for the Daily Dispatch. In those days, that meant photographers were sent out on the street to look for interesting scenes. 
The street musician in the images was sitting at Oxfordstreet/corner Terminus Street and Rob said the man had a very  raspy" beautiful voice, that captured his attention.
He does not remember the exact date, but he says it was in 1986. He also does not remember if it was ever published by the Daily Dispatch but he handed it in for a photographic competition with the photographic society of East London at the time and it was marked down because the Black Label sign, that you can see in the background was cut off and not readable in its entirety.

A friend, whom we told this shook his head and said: "But the musician, he is the black label, He is the black label of the finest quality."
And so is Rob Mellin's picture.

With Rob's permission we will published more of his images. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Interview With Ali Of The Imonti Jazz Band

Some serious drumming has been going on at the Mdantsane Arts Center

During our last unannounced visit to the Mdantsane Arts Center we met Ali and sort of hi-jacked him by dragging him into a music room and forcing him to give us an interview. Ali stands for musician, music instructor at the Mdantsane Arts Center and founder of the Imonti Jazz Band.

Ali Of The Imonti Jazz Band

"This chair," Ali said by pointing on something that looked like a mixed media art piece, like something that is still work in progress," this chair is not supposed to be here".
"Ah, OK."
"No really, this chair is not supposed to be. It is one of my friends chairs and he wants to upholster it. But he still has not collected it. You know how it goes!"

We had not even paid attention to the chair, but here it was and it obviously bothered Ali. But it did in fact look cool. It belonged there in that room with the seriously beaten up drum and the micro.

This Chair Is Not Supposed To Be Here! Says Ali!   

The chair, the micro and the drum were the first three things when we entered the music room and Ali, they all belong there! 

The Drumming Station

"Tell us a little bit about your music Ali".
"I have my own band, I founded the Imonti Jazz Band," Ali says.

"Why Jazz Ali, that's unusual, you are still a young guy and the whole township is into house now. Is Jazz not the domain of elderly guys?"
"That's right, but you know, I found my way into Jazz because I had to find something that is compatible with my soul and with me as a person. I was listening to Kwaito and to Hip Hop but I am a sort of mellow person. When I wake up in the morning I can not listen to Kwaito. I have to get up and hear some soft soothing sound. I really came to love jazzy bluesy music. And I begin my day, every day with it."

"How is the work with the Imonti Jazz Band going?"
"We are practising as often as we can. As often as we can, we come together and we make music. We did not succeed in getting a record contract yet. In this sense the township is underdeveloped. You have to make it first somewhere else, even in Europe or in the US before people recognize your talent here in South Africa.

We have heard that before from other musicians!

Teacher And Student At The Mdantsane Art Center

"And what about your work as a music instructor at the Arts Center here in Mdantsane?" 
"I have been involved in music my whole life and since a while I am a teacher here at the center. The students come after school to learn how to play different instruments and to make music".

"Do you think that music has a healing effect"?
"Music is such a powerful thing. Living and growing up in a township, young people are exposed to many bad influences. I am not talking bad about my kazi but although things are changing here, there is still the danger lingering that young people might be influenced in the wrong way and end up in criminal activities. 
Jobs are scarce, money is scarce and so... what do you do as teenager? You have been stimulated and manipulated by the media and television day and night, that you need certain things to be considered acceptable in society but you do not have the money to buy them and worse looking around you - it looks everywhere the same. 
And then there is the question, where do you go after school. You do not really want to go home. So, the shopping mall is a place where you can be happy. But only for a short time because more desires are created, that can not be fulfilled."

Making Music Is Healing And Prevents Crime

"Is your music class frequented a lot"?
"Oh yes, that is what I am saying, the Arts Center is a place where you can come to after school, it is an alternative to being on the streets. It is a place where you can develop your talent. It is just because of the rain today, that students are coming late. 
We have an open mind to practising. You have to feel music first before you can make it. So we talk also a lot about music".

The Specators

"Will you play something for us now, Ali?"
"Oh, I don't have my guitar with me".
"There is one in the corner".
"But it has got only four strings", Ali said.
"Come on Ali, give it a try,.....please!
"Oh, my god with only four strings".
"Come on please".
"Ok, if you want me too".   

And the students love his song played on a four stringed guitar

Ali played for us one of his own songs, a love song called Wasuka Wandishiya. He played it on an out of tune (that was very hard to tune), four stringed guitar and it still sounded beautiful! That is what you can call a full blooded musician!

Of course we taped it and it became part of our documentary movie Mdantsane Another African Story.

Ali And The Four Stringed Guitar

And we made him listen to his own song!

Ali surprised about the quality of his music

Ali and LordAxHooper

Thank you Ali for your time! 

The Chair

December's Picture - A True Child Of Mdantsane

A True Child Of Mdantsane
Next year we will bring some changes to the Mdantsane Way Magazine. We are actually planning and working on some big things, which we will explain to you in a separate article. One of the minor additions, is that in future we will be choosing for each month of the year a picture, that we specifically love, that has artistic value and that speaks for itself.

And because we can not wait we are starting this year in December. Our picture for December 2012 is a true Mdantsane lad.

A True Child Of Mdantsane = confident and inquisitive + a BIG heart.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Value Of Education For Young South Africans by Vuyolwethu Mbatyoti

Today's article was written by our new volunteer Vuyolwethu Mbatyoti. It is her first article for the magazine. Vuyo does not have permanent access to the Internet. Every time she wants to contact us she has to go to an internet cafe. She tried three times to send this article through to us! We value her effort to write for us under "not so easy conditions". 
She has started he article with a sentence once spoken by Kofi Annan.

Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rests the corner stone of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development”. 
Kofi Annan

The Value Of Education
One Of Campuses Of The University of South Africa in Southernwood East London

Gone are the days of being labeled as Black, White and Coloured, we are no longer separated by the color of our skin, we are all disadvantaged and most of all we have the same dreams and goals to improve our lives. We are no longer alone, foreigners also want the same opportunities and we are aiming for the same goals. We cannot hide behind excuses anymore and its time we put an emphasis on the value of education.

We live in a society where there is a high level of unemployment, inequality and we are faced with poverty. Not only are we faced with the challenge of uneducated youth but we are faced with increasing number of unemployed graduates. Can we confidently say education is still a solution to a better life?

School Girls in Mdantsane Walking Home
Are We All Having The Same Dreams?  And Is Education Still Perceived As A Means To Improve Our Lifes By Young South Africans? 

According to Jay Naidoo “education is most powerful tool against poverty and injustice. Through education dreams become reality, the gap between the rich and the poor can be closed and most importantly education certainly improves the living standard of people. Education gives us opportunities to unlock our greatest potential, choose the career path that suits our personalities and helps us become who we want to be. With education we are able to empower and develop ourselves and we are able to provide for our families."

Education Helping Us To Develop Ourselves And Providing For Families? Street Scene in Southernwood

Street Scene in Southernwood East London

Education guarantees us a better tomorrow.

Children begging at a traffic light in East London, South Africa
Education A Tool For A Better Tomorrow? Street Children begging at a traffic light in Berea in East London

It is a tool to fight against poverty and injustice, a solution for sustainable human development and most importantly a better foundation for freedom. Education is a tool to encourage and empower young people to do things for themselves and make a difference in the world. However the youth in our communities seem to care less about education. For example very often we come across young people who lack a sense of direction and vision of who they want to be. Education seems to be the least of their worries or should I say the last thing on their minds, even those who are already in Universities seem to enjoy the life of being in the university than what they came for that is education.

100% Pain Free And The Same Day

Pain Sometimes Is Not Immediate, But Comes Later. Abortion is a service in great demand with the high number of teen pregnancies in South Africa

We have many opportunities at our disposal and it is important that we make the most of what we have. The government is doing so much to improve our education, for example we have youth advisory centers across the province that provides necessary skills, career advice for young people and unlimited access to the Internet free. These youth centers provide necessary information and knowledge to lead young people to the right direction.

What Is The Right Direction? And How Will You Get There As A Young South African
We don’t have any excuse not to use these services to develop and empower ourselves. To those who believe in the value of the education like myself should continue to do so and our success stories can encourage and empower others to do things for themselves.

Success StoriesCan Empower Others To Do Things For Themselves

Article written by Vuyolwethu Mbatyoti, Images by The Mdantsane Way Magazine

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Introducing Vuyolwethu Mbatyoti - Volunteering For The Mdantsane Way Magazine

Vuyolwethu Mbatyoti

During the last two months we have received more than 20 applications from young South Africans for an internship with the Mdantsane Way Magazine. We do not have a budget for this at the moment - not yet - but we are working on it and we are sure, that we will have one in the future. One of our objectives is to serve as an incubator in the field of journalism, photography and public relations for young graduates, that come from Mdantsane. We are positive that other companies and organizations will support us in the future with funding.

Remarkable is, that more than 90% of the applicants are willing to work with us and to contribute to the Magazine without getting paid. We are delighted about the fact, that people want to work with us for free to get working experience. But this is not the entire motivation behind the applications we have received. The driving force is, that the people who have applied with us are passionate about Mdantsane and there is the desire to give back to their community. And there are more stories to tell.

Chocolat, the editor started meeting with the applicants during the month of November and the first volunteer we would like to introduce is Vuyolwethu Mbatyoti. 

Meet Vuyo, a great deal of passion

Vuyo wrote to us:
"My name is Vuyolwethu Mbatyoti and am currently doing my Honours in Social Science and I have a degree in Applied Commnication Management from the University of Fort Hare and I am INTERESTED (please note interested written in capital letters) in your magazine and would like to contribute towards its development, not only for the magazine but for the community of Mdantsane at  large. What can I do to be part of your magazine?"

We asked her in turn how she thought she could contribute? She wrote us a a well elaborated one and a half page letter with ideas and suggestions. Perseverance does it. After a three hour conversation ( the intention was 30 min) over one Cafe Latte it became clear that her great passion is the value of education in South Africa.  

Vuyo is 21 years of age, ambitious. and hardworking. She lives in NU 3 in Mdantsane and has a twin sister as well as a younger sister.  It has not been easy for her and sometimes things were really tight in the family. What pulled her through was the love she experienced in the family.

"But look at me now, she says, today the lack of means is no excuse to not study and get an education in South Africa. There is NSFAS and there are other student loans. I studied on NSFAS. The government is doing so much for us as students."

Look At me Now!
She is however concerned about the high drop out rate at schools and universities at present in South Africa.
"Our parents have fought, so that we can have education and now the youth is not really interested anymore. It's all about clubbing, spending money and having fun, she says."

I know, that what I am today I will not be tomorrow. I will be better

"I know, that what I am today I will not be tomorrow. I will be better and I will find a job, earn a decent salary and be a role model for others".

The interesting thing about Vuyo is, that she has ideas of her own and tries to find ways to turn them into something
She is unique, but at the same time she is also representative of a large segment of the South African society. The graduates, that leave the universities by thousands facing now the harsh reality of finding employment. Her life and her experiences will tell us more about what it means to be a young South African in an ever changing and challenging social and economic environment.

Vuyo will write about education and we are looking forward to her stories.

So Vuyo, after having introduced you thoroughly today to our readers, we hope that you feel the pressure now (yes that was our intention) so that you can perform at your best and give us your best stories!

Mkhokeli Radiators Is Always Open

We have received a beautiful comment from one of our readers from the United States. Ann Malaspina is an author of books for children and teens. She lives in the Greater New York City Area and we thank her with this article for her comment. Words like hers are what keeps us going and make us stronger and better. Thank you Ann! 

"What a lovely online magazine. I really enjoyed the beautiful photographs and commentary. I feel like I had made a trip to South Africa, where I've never been, and met some wonderful people. Thank you for your work."
Posted by Ann Malaspina

In this spirit we are going to show you another interesting place on Hi-Way in Mdantsane.

Mkhokeli Radiators At Hi Way in Mdantsane
The good thing in having a small business around the Hi-Way market area in Mdantsane is, that if you have to go away for a couple of minutes, somebody (usually a close friend) is going to watch your shop. 
Everything is close together and should the unlucky incident occur, that an unexpected costumer arrives in your absence, you will be called right away! 

Business can be done from any place in Mdantsane, from you backyard, from your house, from a shack and from a container. The only thing you need is a roof over your head and a big hand-painted signboard outside telling the world that you are there.

Mkhokeli Radiatiors At Hi Way
Business Can Be Done From Any Place

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I Z A CRAFTS = Xhosa Crafts From The Eastern Cape

Tembeka is the owner of Iza Crafts
Tembeka, The Owner Of Iza Crafts In East London

Tembeka is a 70 years old Xhosa woman and proud of it. She is a widow since a couple of years and three of her children are still alive. She had five children. Tembeka is the owner of Iza Crafts, a business, that designs and creates Traditional Xhosa Crafts Products originating from the Eastern Cape in South Africa.

The old colonial house that is home to Iza Crafts nowadays.
Iza Crafts - Xhosa Crafts From The Eastern Cape.

Tembeka lives in Mdantsane in NU 3 and it was there that she started her business. Her first workshop was located in the township. 
Nowadays her business can be found in an old colonial house in the Quigney suburb in East London, a suburb that has been labeled multicolored by the old mostly white residents because of the great influx of students that study at several campuses and live in student residences.

Iza Crafts In The Quigney Suburb

Tembeka knows everything about the difficulties involved in running a successful business, as a black woman in South Africa, in a small town and in a region, that is not a tourist hub. Iza Crafts is more than a decade old and has gone through several phases.
"At a time my business had 15 employees, who were working for me full time around the clock, she says, but several factors brought us down to three people. I have two ladies and a driver now."

"In the beginning, when we started, we were very keen on government contracts and the government gave us a lot of work because of the quality of our work. We designed corporate gifts for functions, conferences and workshops in great number but the problem was that the government never paid us on time. They kept us waiting for months but we already had incurred the expenses for the material needed for the products, Tembeka explains, so we are not looking so much for government contracts anymore".

The global recession has done its part as well to reduce her business to a small scale business.

Traditional Shwe Shwe Fabric has been washed and is drying outside in the sun on the street in front of her shop
But Tembeka changed her strategy and she never gave up. For an elderly woman who uses only a cell phone to run her business and does not know how to work with the Internet, she can be considered street wise and she definitely has an inborn sense of understanding how to stay alive in business during difficult times. 

Photography By The Mdantsane Way
Tembeka of Iza Crafts on the phone with customers

After her business had gone through a lot of difficulties she concentrated on private costumers. She is now one of the experts in sewing genuine traditional Xhosa wedding dresses. Tembeka has received hundreds of wedding photos from her clients, expressing their gratitude with the images of their wedding day for the beautiful attire she has done for them.

Traditional Shwe Shwe Fabric produced by Da Gama in East London
Tembeka doing business
But she is so much more than just a perseverent business woman. 
Tembeka's work keeps the Xhosa traditions of the Eastern Cape alive because all her products are created in the genuine traditional way as they should be. Her knowledge of the old traditions and the way of the elders has grown over the years. Through her work she did a lot of research on traditional topics or "ethnic things" as she calls them.  

The Beauty Of Handmade

Inside her shop you will find only exclusively handcrafted items ranging from dresses made from traditional blue print fabric to beaded jewelry and traditional miniature Xhosa dolls. She designs and creates a great variety of products, always with an eye on tradition.

Beaded Xhosa jewelry, necklaces, anklets and bracelets

Although most of the products she makes are worn by the ladies, all of her products are symbolic for the Xhosa culture and tradition in the Eastern Cape. We will run a series of interviews with her shortly about the specific meaning and use of traditional Xhosa products.

Dresses made from the traditional blue print produced by Da Gamas
But Tembeka is open to modernity as well. Keeping traditions and values in line in her life and inspiring others through it has not kept her from understanding, that to stay in the design business and be successful you have to design products that reflect our time as well. So she has a variety of quite playful and some sexy dresses on her hangars for the younger generation - still using the traditional blue print.

Handmade Head Wrap in Two Colors Made From Traditional ShweShwe Fabric
The time that is needed to make a unique and outstanding item is taken. And even though, that the two ladies who sew and do the beautiful beading details on the dresses for her, work incredibly quick and fast, their hands are flying over the fabric-there is no doubt, that the time needed to complete a product will be taken.

And this is what great craftsmanship is all about. The costumer waits a little longer, spends a little more but it is all so worth it.

20th African Design
20th.century African design with a slight touch of tradition is presented on a vintage mannequin from the 1950's in Tembeka's shop (Chocolat, collecting these things, had tears in her eyes when she saw the mannequin).
Let's call Tembeka's shop rather a treasure trove.
She is a lady who is capable of understanding tradition and modernity and how they are linked in our society at the age of 70 years. 

Tembeka In Her Shop

Tembeka is a Xhosa lady of substance. There is no doubt about it! 
If you listen to her, you will learn a lot!
We learned that there is no easy way to success and if somebody tells you so you should become very sceptical.

Beaded Xhosa Wedding Necklace In The Traditional Colors Turquoise And Blue

The colors of the beads have a meaning in Xhosa tradition and for a traditional wedding there can be no deviation. The necklace has to be beaded in turquoise and black and white. 

Tembeka Looking Into The Future- In The Back Handcrafted Xhosa Dolls
Tembeka, a traditionalist African woman, is very much present in the now and as far as we are concerned nothing can stop her at the moment and she will be around with her business for many more years to come.

Miniature Dolls

Black and White Beaded Necklace


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