Teaching drama in Ndevana

Siphesihle Matyila
Mbulelo Nkwali (left) and Zolani Seyisi in the Suppermix office, where they edit their films. Photo by Siphesihle Matyila.

Mbulelo Nkwali and Zolani Seyisi had one idea when they founded Suppermix in 2008 in King William’s Town’s Ndevana settlement: to take young people off the streets. Today the film and drama company performs at weddings, church events, and the Buffalo City carnival.

Nkwali, also known as Rasta, says the aim of Suppermix is to build confidence, especially in young girls, and to offer young people options to make sure they are busy and do not get involved in crime and alcohol abuse.

The two friends teach drama, music, poetry and cultural dancing. They have produced a drama called Athembele, a film about a young girl who lost her parents because of HIV and ended up at an orphanage.

Their most recent drama is Monandini, about jealousy.

There are 15 members of the group, with the youngest member nine years old and the oldest 54 years old.

Nkwali writes the scripts and Seyisi directs all the films.

Suppermix is registered with the Eastern Cape Development Corporation and gets sponsorship from the Small Enterprise Development Agency, SEDA. But they are still struggling to distribute their films and documentaries.

“We distribute our films house to house because getting funding and getting our films to market is still a huge challenge,” says Nkwali.

In 2012 Suppermix was invited to perform at the Buffalo City Metro annual Summer Carnival and that was the company’s big break, says Nkwali. “The group has performed with big artists and shared a stage with national artists at the carnival. Whenever we perform, we get a stipend and we use that money for administration costs for our office.”

Teaching young people has its own challenges, says Seyisi. “They don’t really care much about time. I persist none the less because of the love I have for them and the craft.”

“Ndevana is slow when it comes to youth development, there is no sport or extra mural activities except for one rugby team,” he says.

The group performs at weddings, church events and other events. They sell their films at R80 on DVD and collections of their performances for R40.

“In the five years to come, I want to create more job opportunities for the young people of Ndevana and surroundings,” says Nkwali.

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