Dance classes aim to keep youth away from social ills

The group of young Nyanga dancers are happy to be distracted from their daily challenges. They have happily joined the classes conducted at Linge Primary School by Sibongile Hlathi.

In his young life, Sibongile Hlati has known humiliation. And he has known violence.

The Nyanga rape survivor and openly gay man was young when he was raped and humiliated because of his sexual orientation.

This happened in Mau-Mau, Nyanga and now he has started dance classes in the troubled area in the hope that he can speak up, and provide an outlet for those who are struggling.

“I was raped and humiliated in my life,” Mr Hlati, 26, told Vukani.

“This is my way of saying to those who are alone and depressed because of such crimes you can still follow your dream and purpose in life.

“I thought ‘Nyanga is crime infested and children have nothing to do except drugs and alcohol, let me then open up some dance classes to distract the young ones from going that way’,” he said.

“It is a fact that Nyanga is riddled with crime. That is another reason that I opted to open the dance classes – to entertain children and to speak to them and uplift them.

“I am saying to those who are doing nothing, let us stand up and fight crime for these young people. I am excited to have done this for my community. I am more excited with the fact that the parents have let them join me in this journey.”

When he first got started, Mr Hlati would conduct classes in the backyards of homes but the classes now take place at Linge Primary School.

Parent Zanele Valashiya said dance is what the children are passionate about and commended Mr Hlathi for his work.

“He is taking them away from the life of drugs and crimes. This is a good distraction. I have been noticing him from time to time. He has a way of working with young people,” she said.

When Vukani visited the classes on Monday July 22, children flocked into the classroom to dance, showing great talent and excitement as they took to the stage.