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.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Beauty Of The Xhosa Language - A Poem And A Song

This short movie has a group of children performing a kindergarten poem and a song in the beautiful amaxhosa language.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Jonas Krombach Living In Nu 9 In Mdantsane - They Gave Me The Best Time Of My Life

The House of Jonas Krombach's Guest Family in Mdantsane NU 9

Jonas Krombach is the other half of the twin volunteer team, that was sent to Mdantsane for a year to assist and coach an environmental youth club at a High School in Nu 6.
Well, they are not real biological twins but they became twins in spirit during the course of one year. We have spoken a lot about Theresa Ekpa's experiences, she made during her stay in Mdanstane. Ladies first and that is the only reason. But now it is Jonas's turn. 
Jonas, Jonas, Jonas.... what we can we say!
This guy is the archetypal German man. He is straightforward, controlled, as punctual as it gets and hard working. Often he can also be full of sh......!
But he belongs to a new breed of Germans. 
He is a wonderful representative of a new generation of open minded, exploring, very well educated, adventurous but all the way still careful young men, who are not afraid to show their emotions and who have made it their mission to transcend the boundaries, they were raised in and to see and understand as much as possible of this beautiful world we live in.

Over The Roof Tops In Mdnatsane

One year ago Jonas said to himself, after he had finished his abitur which is the German version of the matric: "I want to see and experience something completely and totally different from what I know."

And Jonas came to Mdanstane and he got a full dose of what he had asked for. 

The Sisters Star And Nolubabalo - Jonas Krombach's Two Mothers in Mdantsane

Yebo! For our foreign readers one more time: yebo is something like a South African exclamation for OK!
Jonas came to live with two sisters, Star and Nolubabalo, who became his mothers in Mdanstane.
The first thing he was confronted with, was the fact, that family structures in Mdantsane differ very much from what is considered a classic family in Germany. 
Of course, you can find the classical core family like everywhere else with a simple father-mother-and-children structure, but very often households are headed by women only. The are headed by grandmothers, sisters and even young children. The reasons for this are the high aids mortality rate in South Africa and the loss of the old South African moral family values in the black and white culture.

Star and Nolubabalo live together and raise the two children they have in their house in NU 9. No husband, no man. Just the women.

A typical dirt road in Mdantsane NU 9

And Now Jonas. 
Jonas faced many challenges, like having to deal with electricity cuts or no lights at all, having to shower with a bucket and cold water. Yeah, and the occasional mice and other rodents making their way through his new home. 
"But there was so much love", he said, "the love of Star and Nolubabalo and the two boys was simply unbelievable. I will miss them so much. It is hard to believe that someone can give so much love to a stranger who has just come to live in his house".

Jonas with his younger brother Lilitha

Jonas is a single child, he does not have any brothers or sisters in Germany and out of a sudden he was living in the second largest township in South Africa, had two mothers and two younger brothers and was sharing a small house with them. 
He is passionate about handball and plays in Germany in a club. Handball is not a sport that is known and played a lot in South Africa. So everything familiar and known had been taken away from him!
You can call that a culture shock!

"But was that not exactly what you wanted, Jonas", we ask?
Yes it was!
"And I have grown so much through this intense life experience", he says. 

This is the exact and best term to describe it - an intense life experience, that has the power to change you from the inside out in a relatively short time.

Between Houses in NU 9 In Mdantsane

But belonging to that new breed of young German men we mentioned before, there was no doubt, that he would cope and that he would enjoy his stay thoroughly including the fact, that he now had to share a small space and was not the only child in the house anymore.

We can only say, well done German man! Well done Jonas Krombach! 

Jonas with his two younger brothers Lilitha and Lutho in the families home in NU 6

Jonas experienced strong contrast. Contrast of all sorts. Contrast between rich and poor in the Mdantsane township itself. Contrast between the German life and the South African township life. Contrast is not easy to understand, when confronted with it in a harsh way. There is a big difference between watching a "documentary" on television or being thrown into the documentary and being part of it in real life.

"It takes you one year before you really know and understand how life functions here in the township. In the beginning you are just an observer and you have to find your way. This can take a long time because you have to overcome your own insecurities to socialize with the people", he said.

Corrugated Iron Shacks In NU 6 In Mdantsane

Why is an intense life experience so good! Why are we advocating this and are talking so much about these young Germans?

Because it is the first step, the beginning of a long journey, helping you to transcend the boundaries in which you have been raised and which hold you back. 
It is the first step, that makes it possible for you to keep the love for the place you were born and to treasure it, but to move on and free yourself from its limitations.   

And it is so good because you drag others into it, like your parents, friends and lovers who get send on the same path by you, just by knowing you and following you. 
And gradually it is the only way of freeing yourself and others of prejudice, racism and  the fear of foreign cultures.

Jonas And His German Parents Who Came To Visit Mdantsane With His Mdanstane Guest Family

The moral of the story: Do something extreme to yourself and not to others!

Jonas Celebrating Birthday With His Mothers And Brothers In Mdantsane

All Images Jonas Krombach, Article by Chocolat

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Queue Sisters - True Zulu Jive found in Mdantsane

Our publisher Chocolat and her brother Chris collect African sounds on vinyl and shellac for the love of music - not profit. Africa is blessed with an incredible diverse heritage of music that must be passed on and appreciated again and again.

In The Mdantsane Way Mgazine we try to keep it local and focus on out of print South African, and other African music, that is very difficult to find. We make the sounds available on our youtube channel.

Today we are happy to present you one of (many of) Chocolat's beloved babies - true Zulu Jive found in Mdantsane. On our trips through the township we have been buying vinyl and shellac records as often as we could. 

Khulumandoda by the Queue Sisters is a very rare species because it is not even 33 rpm pressing. It comes as a 78 rpm shellac record and is played here on one of Chocolat's President gramophones. You are listening to a very rare jive, that was pressed on the Gallo New Sound label in the late 1950's. We do not have an exact year.
Gallo, the leading record company in South Africa, introduced the New Sound label in 1958 as a marketing strategy to brand their more popular jive and kwela releases. 
And the label has an interesting history.  All about this label here. A blog that many South African music lovers will enjoy.

Monday, June 10, 2013

I Wish I Could Stay Longer - Interview With German GIZ Volunteer Theresa Ekpa

In a 26 minutes long and very personal interview, 19 year old German Development Volunteer Theresa Ekpa talks about the experiences she made during her one year stay - which has come close to an end - in the second biggest township of South Africa, Mdantsane. Theresa was part of a volunteer program of the GIZ (German Cooperation For Internationl Development) and lived with a guest family in Mdantsane.
She has come in contact with a multitude of new things, that have changed her thinking and the way she approaches life.

We have enjoyed her open, unpretentious and refreshing way of talking and as we have said before: this 19 year old young lady has some considerable presence for her age.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Nguni, A Mighty Tribe - The Cattle Of The Xhosa People

After having published The Nguni - The Cattle Of The Xhosa People, we have created a short movie for you, to show their beauty and the beauty of the land and the people, that live with them. 

The music we have chosen for this video originates from another great cattle nation - The Mali (peace may finally come back to this country). 
The three tracks GOYDIOTODAM, BOYREI and KENOUNA were played and recorded for the legendary album "The River" by the great Koira player Ali Farka Toure, a traditional African musician par excellence who has left his mark on the West African music scene. 

The video was shot on location in the Wild Coast, at the small village Quolora by the Sea, a place, that some call also Trenneries after an old hotel of the same name situated in the village.
The area has many rivers flowing into the sea and Nguni cattle of this area walk along the rivers, coming down from the mountains to rest by the sea. 
At Quolora you can become a witness of a rare sight. Beautiful African cattle are lying at the beach in the mist and sometimes even in the rain whilst the waves of the mighty Atlantic ocean are thundering in their back. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Theresa Ekpa - My Year In Mdantsane

Theresa Ekpa came to South Africa to spend a year in Mdantsane as a volunteer
It is with greatest pleasure, that I am sharing with you today my interview with German volunteer Theresa Ekpa. I have met Theresa a couple of month ago in Mdantsane while shooting our documentary movie at the Inkwenkwezi High School in Nu 6 in Mdantsane and this interview has been long on my list. 
This talented, humble 19 year old young woman deserves some exposure.

The Beauty From Two Different Parts Of The World

Theresa is a sweet, thoughtful and very tall girl. She is also an incredibly beautiful girl, who has been blessed with the best two different continents have to offer.
Yeah! That is what we have always said! Girls and Boys do not stay at home, go and visit foreign places and fall in love with someone, who is not like you!

Born to a German mother and a Nigerian father she has all, what nature can give to someone. And more than that. Theresa's head is sitting straight on her shoulders and this young lady has the confidence of a 30 year old.

Theresa- My Year In Mdantsane Has Changed My Life And The Way I See Life

When we sat down in the lush, tropical gardens of Green Living activist Annegret Mostert, where half tame horn bills were watching us from a distance, waiting to be fed, we discovered, that Theresa is at ease in front of the camera, as she is in a simple conversation with you. We were able to record an one hour interview with her, that was a walk in a park compared to other interviews we have done. Theresa knows exactly what she wants to say and how she wants it to say.

There is great sensitivity in the way she formulates her sentences and when she asks you to give her a moment, to think about a question before answering, she gets this dreamy look in her eyes. Was I like this when I was 19?  Hm, well......

Her calmness and self assurance can be may be attributed to the fact, that she grew up with two cultures and with the inborn understanding, that each culture deserves respect in this world.
This made her also a perfect candidate for a volunteer position in Mdantsane.

Hornbills were waiting to be fed in Annegret Mostert's Garden
After completing her German matric, Theresa followed her heart and looked for a volunteer position in another country. 
She saw an opening for a volunteer position at a High School in the second biggest township of South Africa - Mdantsane, that was offered by the German Development Organisation GIZ (Gesellschaft Fuer Technische Zusammenarbeit). The position required of the succesful applicant to work and coach an environmental youth club at the High School Inkwenkwezi in collaboration with WESSA, a South African division of the WWF(Worl Wide Fund For Nature).
She applied and she got the position. 

Theresa followed her heart and her roots to Africa and came to live in Mdantsane with a local guest family for one year. This is huge!

The Theresa Ekpa interview with Theresa in Annegret's dream garden was a walk in the park. And she sort of belonged there.

This is really huge! 
For the ones, who do not know Mdantsane - still today Mdantsane is an exclusively black township. Browsing through government statistics, you will find that the graphs show a 3 % population of white people. White residents! But we wonder where are they?
And hey, with a population of close to 500.000 people according to government census, this would give us a number of 1500 white people living in Mdantsane? 
We are coming to Mdantsane since five years and we have not met one single white person living in the township.

So for a young girl from Germany like Theresa, to come and live in a different culture, and to live like the local people do, take the taxis for transport or walk, eat the same things your guest family eats  - that is a huge thing and a huge challenge. Let's hear what Theresa has to say!

Tell us a little bit about yourself? Why did you want to come to Mdantsane?
I am nineteen years old and I have been living my whole life in Germany. My father comes from Nigeria, he is a metallurgist and works now in England. He has lived for over thirty years in Europe in different countries. I have been to Nigeria only once, when I was eight years old. But I want to get to know Africa and the reason why I applied as a volunteer with the GIZ was, that I wanted to meet different people and get in touch with different cultures.

How to you see yourself today, coming from a multiracial background?
I definitely do not see myself as half German, half African. I am German, I live in Germany but I want to go and visit Nigeria again, my father's country, so that I can understand my African heritage better. The position in Mdantsane was a start to get in touch with the African continent. My father and my mother both are very proud, that I am doing this volunteer year in Africa.

What was your first impression of Mdantsane? Did you know about the history of townships in South Africa?
My first impression of Mdantsane was, that it is a place with incredible vibes. It is so colorful and energetic. Alone, to watch Hi-Way scenes during one day is incredible. I did my research before and when I found out, that Mdantsane is the second biggest township in South Africa, I was very surprised. I only knew about Soweto and when I read, that Mdantsane is second biggest I applied for the position. I did not want to be in a very small place.  

How is it to live with a local guest family in Mdantsane?
It was very, very challenging. I think experiences are different with different families, but the problem probably was that my arrival had not been properly announced and when somebody comes to live with a family for one year and the family is not prepared for this, it can cause problems.

Did you encounter security problems in Mdantsane?
I was warned about the security issue before many times. And I am definitely more aware of my environment here in Mdantsane, than I am in Germany but in general I was safe so far. I have not encountered any bad or life threatening things. I just live my life like I would live it in Germany. I am also not too scared.

 I was not too scared, I just live my life like in Germany

And Night Life? The famous Mdansane Night Life?
Unfortunately not! (A big sigh comes in our direction). My guest family was very strict and I was not allowed to go out at night. I would have loved more to dive into the music scene, go dancing, meet more people. I know that everybody goes to the Endaweni lounge but I have not been there. But it is on my list. I will go there one evening before I leave.

Any Boyfriends? 
No, I feel not that I am ready for a boyfriend or a longer relationship. It will come at the right time.

Did you make friends?
Oh yes I did, I found genuine friends and I know that some of these friendships will endure time and that they will last even when I am gone. 

What did you learn from your work as a volunteer?
It changed my life. I learned not to freak out always, to become calmer and develop more patience. I could see people live differently than we do in Germany and they are also happy and satisfied. The idea or objective of our volunteer programme is not so much to develop or help other people but to grow and develop our own character, so that we can take back what we learned to our own country and transform our country from the inside, by being less racist, less prejudiced. I do not think we are really capable of helping the people of Mdantsane, especially the youth, but we can inspire them as well, so that they will take steps in life. that they would have not taken otherwise without knowing us 

Theresa's Love Affair With Tea

We are going to stop at this point. Today's interview was supposed to make you a little curious what else this courageous young woman has to say. We have prepared a long interview with her, that is going to be uploaded on youtube in the next days.

Thanks Theresa for your time and patience.  


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