Zakes Mda officially opens Isivivana centre

Author Zanemvula Mda putting his signature to the cairn, in the presence of Ian Watermeyer and Adam Sacic from Isivivana centre.

The R52 million Isivivana Centre in Khayelitsha has been officially opened, housing a number of public benefit organisations and offering a space for community meetings, family celebrations, learning programmes-and regular film screenings.

Already based in the three-storey building are Equal Education (EE); the Social Justice Coalition (SJC); Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders); the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC); Workers World Media Productions, Probono.org; Health Equity South Africa, the Thope Foundation and the Equal Education Law Centre.

On Thursday October 13, the building was packed with community members and pupils, including acclaimed writer, storyteller and filmmaker, Zanemvula “Zakes” Mda who hailed the centre as being “instrumental” in Khayelitsha’s development.

Tasked with making the opening remarks, the author, who also explained the name chosen for the building, encouraged the non-governmental organisations which will be housed at the centre to fight for a good cause.Isivivana translates to cairn, which is a pile of stones created for ceremonial or commemorative purposes.

“This is a magnificent home for the non-governmental organisations. Isivivana is a glimmer of hope, hope that we all need,” he said. “Here, this is where all young people will meet and correct our wrongs. My generation has messed up the country. The country is in a mess. It is corrupt to the core. It is in this place that these NGOs will make our government accountable,” he told the gathering.

He encouraged the organisations to serve the people with dignity and respect and said he hoped that residents of Khayelitsha would use the space to their advantage.

“I am excited that it was initiated by young people. I have worked with organisations that fight for people’s rights,” he said.

The elated SJC secretary Phumeza Mlungwana said her organisation would now be able to push for projects in Khayelitsha and help young people keep away from crime, especially on weekends.

“We have been working in Khayelitsha for years but now we are tight in the centre of Khayelitsha, something that will help us with time.“It means we will implement more projects. We will host our workshops and meetings here

But most importantly, we will implement film screenings especially on weekends for our youths. “We know what is happening on weekends. Most young people will be away from crime now,” she said. She added that another important thing would be the interaction of all the organisations housed in the centre. Architect Katlego Motene said the centre had been established in honour of young and radical young people.

“I am happy that after looking for a space and finally finding one, we managed to put this ‘groups of radicals’ in one hole. This area was full of sand and no bushes when we got it from the City of Cape Town and worked it to what it is today,” he said.