Students use film project to find healing

Thuli Ngozi, far left, with students from the Winston Mankunku Ngozi Jazz Foundation. Students from the foundation featured in a concert, which is part of a graduation project by Cape Peninsula University of Technology students.

A crew of ambitious film students are combining their love for music and storytelling in a graduation project called Sipholeni Sonke.

The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) students feel that their generation must take it upon themselves to tell stories from their communities instead of relying on outsiders to attempt to interpret and repackage their narrative.

Sipholeni Sonke is a film about healing and growing through music, they said.

The project also included a community concert at Guga S’thebe Arts Centre in Langa last month to highlight the rich art and cultural heritage of Langa and Gugulethu.

“The majority of us making it are black women and our film reflects this focus on (black) women’s struggles and how to collectively overcome them.

“In the film our antagonist must deal with how her past shapes her present. Our protagonist is convinced that she wants to change her future through music. All our characters gain unity by the healing nature of music and the love of jazz.”

The concert on July 8 consisted of two halves. First teenagers and mentors from the Winston Mankunku Ngozi Jazz Foundation took to the stage, then there was a piano and drums duet between Nick Williams and the legendary Louis Moholo-Moholo.

Openingtheprogramme, pupils from the choir of ID Mkhize Senior Secondary School in Gugulethu sang the decolonised version of Nkosi Sikelel’i Afrika.

Then musicians from the Winston Mankunku Ngozi Jazz Foundation showed their talent to perform songs from the South African jazz songbook, including Mankunku’s own Yakhal’inkomo and You Ain’t Gonna Know Me (Cos You Think You Know Me) written by Louis Moholo-Moholo’s fellow Blue Notes member, Mongezi Feza.

Founded by Thuli Ngozi, who also mentors the students, the Winston Mankunku Ngozi Jazz Foundation has been running for almost a year with classes at ID Mkhize Senior Secondary School and surrounding areas.

For the second half of the concert, Louis Moholo-Moholo and Nick Williams switched up the style with an improvised duet.

The concert will be included in the film and a cast of more experienced actors from Langa and Gugulethu are also taking part.

“The concert and film shine a light on unsung heroes who provide much needed cultural work in their community while providing music and entertainment for the world,” said the students.

“We have connections to elders in our communities and believe a fitting way to honour them is through cinema.

“Through our short film and the community concert an opportunity has been made for elders to share their knowledge with younger generations and continue to keep their cultural legacies alive,” the students said.

“Facing up to our realities, we are young adults who have had to struggle to make it through to our third year of studies at CPUT.

“We are not children with financial privilege. We are aware that upon completing this film and graduating we will continue to share responsibilities for assisting our families, so we can all be uplifted together.”

The students are also in need of additional funding to bolster the limited budget provided by CPUT.

Once they have submitted the film as part of their school work in September, screenings will be planned for November. For details email sipholenisonke@gmail.com or call 062 921 5504.