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Developing the youth through art

Written by Allison Cooper

Limpopo-based non-profit organisation Charismatic Rhythms is helping to develop youth through performance art and a life skills programme.

Charismatic Rhythms is opening up a world of possibilities for young people in Limpopo through the arts.Founded by Kagiso Kekana in Makhado, Limpopo, in 2015, the organisation offers opportunities to young emerging artists from marginalised communities to be educated and formally trained in the arts.

The organisation is currently facilitating the Art in Schools programme, which uses creative arts to train, educate, develop and empower youth, contributing to job creation and reducing poverty.

The programme was piloted in 2020. It is funded by the National Arts Council and the Presidential Employment Stimulus programme, which forms part of government’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan to respond to unemployment.

So far, over 80 learners have benefited from the programme and eight jobs have been created.

Kekana, who is a role model and an example to many in her community, was born in Soweto.

While she can be described as a philanthropist, songstress, songwriter, performer, storyteller or even a youth development leader, labels do not concern her.

“I am passionate about the arts and a supporter of young people who show an appetite for development.

“My earliest memory of the arts is being part of the Lion King concert in nursery school. At home, I would sing and dance to music tapes my parents played.”

She was involved in artistic activities at church, which sparked a passion for the arts from a young age.

Kekana relocated to Limpopo in 2012, where she joined a local church and identified a need for the youth choir to be further developed.

“I asked the pastor if I could volunteer. That’s where my vision began, as young people from the community wanted to join in.”

Charismatic Rhythms was established and received its first funding from the Arts and Culture Trust in 2016, to pilot the Artistic Excursion project. This project took 30 beneficiaries on a tour of art hubs, institutions and production houses to learn about the industry.

In 2017, Charismatic Rhythms was also awarded seed funding from the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and Business and Arts South Africa Debut Programme, and started a performance art project in commemoration of Youth Day.

Kekana’s message to the youth is to believe in their vision. “Everything always works out, sometimes even better than you imagined,” she says.

Contact Charismatic Rhythms via Facebook at www.facebook.com/CharismaticRhythms.