Sisipho Pinyana and Linda Pona
The Department of Sports, Recreation and Arts and Culture (DSRAC) MEC Nonceba Kontsiwe hosted a stakeholder engagement meeting at Amazwi Museum on Friday, 21 April 2023.
Present at the meeting were critical stakeholders in the sports, recreation, and arts and culture sector in the Sarah Baartman District. Also, present at the meeting were representatives from the municipality.
The purpose of the meeting was to share information and highlight and address the challenges faced by various stakeholders within the Sarah Baartman District.
Kontsiwe kicked off the event by highlighting the purpose of the meeting and DSRAC’s role in communities. “Our aim is for social cohesion, to build the nation,” she said. She added that their programmes are primarily aimed at the youth so that they can keep active and stay away from drugs and crime.
Sarah Baartman Sports Council chairperson Deon Hilbert thanked DSRAC for their support but highlighted that not enough was done, especially in funding school sports. The other issue he raised is poor sporting equipment delivered to the various sporting teams in the Sarah Baartman District. Speaking to Grocott’s Mail, he added the township is disadvantaged when it comes to sporting facilities. “If we go to the township now, we will see there are no sports facilities while the white schools in town are [advantaged]and have more sporting facilities…we live in an unequal society where the ANC has let us down,” he said.
President of the Eastern Cape Province Athletics, Sticks Stiglinds, added that services in some parts of the Sarah Baartman District are provided late, impacting sports in those areas.
In response to these issues raised, DSRAC Strategic Manager Kholisile Magadla said, “We have over 500 000 school learners in the district, and they need people at the community level driving programmes like sports.”
Kontsiwe added that there are allocated funds for sports conferences. She added that about three or four rugby unions need to unite into one club. “We asked them to unite and have one club. Why are they not uniting? I am told that nothing is happening; they can’t see eye to eye,” she said, expressing that it would be easier if teams united.
Music and performing arts
Musical artist, conductor and researcher Athenkosi Nelani raised the issue of choral music funding, which has been an issue for the past 10 to 15 years. He says, “Choirs in the past ten years have been funding themselves to attend the competitions organised by DSRAC. Choirs at the district level have had to fund themselves to go to these events and also feed their choristers.” He added that the OR Tambo Music Festival is well organised but that choirs are not paid at the district level.
Magadla responded to funding issues by highlighting a budget for choral music in the operational plan document, which is available to members of the public. He added that music alone has an allocated budget of R4.8 million which has been set aside. This is to support music artists to record.
Recording artist, academic and pastor Nolwakhe Yvonne Yveslight Sewelo said there’s no support from DSRAC. “They don’t appear, nor do they communicate,” she said. She also mentioned that children need books, and the Library has books. “The problem is that “the books are old and outdated,” she said.
Sarah Baartman District Director Nolulamo Wakana responded to the issue of old, outdated books by saying they will prioritise getting up-to-date books. We have 63 libraries across the district, while others only have about ten. We will make it a point to engage librarians when we visit, and they should assist librarians in inspecting aspects of the Library,” said Wakana.
Albany Museum Board of Trustees chairperson Lindile Jela requested assistance in the maintenance of buildings as they needed upgrading.
Sarah Baartman spokesperson, Nomhle Gaga, responded, “When Sarah Baartman does refurbishment of museums, they do that when they have those meetings.” She added that some buildings are more than 100 years old. Therefore, the Infrastructure aesthetic committee needs to look at the infrastructure.
Dakawa Art Centre
One of the most spoken-about issues was the Dakawa Arts Centre. Many people raised the issue that they have no access to the centre. Makhanda-based designer Sabelo Bengu said, “We have no access to it. It has equipment we would like to use.” Choreographer Sinazo Xako adds that there are no spaces for dancers to practice, and the Dakawa Arts Centre has become a church. In addition, many people raised that Dakawa faces vandalism challenges.
On the vandalism issue, both the Wakaba and Kontsiwe agree that the centre is the community’s responsibility. “It speaks to that community owning and protecting that asset,” said Wakaba.
Kontsiwe urged the community to look after its assets. “This is a challenge to the community – once government builds, then it’s no longer the government issue, but rather the community and we must decide what we will do about that,” she said.
Other issues raised during the meeting
Various performers raised the issue of the National Arts Festival is based in town rather than the township, which impacts the township economy. SIZO MEDIA Director Sipho Zono spoke about homestays being revived again in Makhanda. “During the festivals, there were shows at various places of accommodation in the township, but now it happens [in town and businesses there benefit]. People [in the township]spent money to renovate houses, but money didn’t come,” he said.
Kontsiwe ended the meeting by saying everyone should be responsible and accountable for their various roles. She added, “Some things don’t need a budget; they need the community to get together…remember we commit to nation building.”