With the rise of socio-economic issues among the youth, a group of teenagers from Khayelitsha are using martial arts to promote wellness in the society.
During a Youth Month event hosted by the Khayelitsha District Hospital on Monday, more than 20 karatekas from the Monwabisi Karate Academy – Ryushin-kan – demonstrated the disciplines of kata and kumite in front of a packed crowd.
In commemoration of the 46th anniversary of the 1976 youth uprisings, the event was themed, “Promoting sustainable livelihood and resilience of young people for a better tomorrow.”
The event was also brought to life by the skillful dancing of Ilitha Park’s Mak’dantswe group; a panel of speakers including the chief executive officer at the hospital, David Binza; Vukani journalist and chief executive officer at Successful Journals, Lonwabo Marele; teenage pregnancy speaker, Paulette Arendse; Fifth-dan black belt and sensei Monwabisi Spogter; as well as programme director, Themelios B. Demas.
The programme touched on topics about the challenges and solutions faced by youth — from the lack of education and skills, gender-based violence and femicide, mental health issues, unemployment and youth poverty, as well as the rise in technology and entrepreneurship in townships.
Binza expressed how grateful he was to the youngsters for keeping well through sports, especially after 21 teenagers died in the Enyobeni tavern in East London on Sunday.
Karate student, Zukhanyo Bolani said martial arts has helped him to stay healthy, disciplined and find his new hobby in acting. He is included in a movie that will be released later this year.
Sensei Spogter said they are planning to continue with such events annually to raise awareness of the issues, while navigating the solutions.
“The plan as a youth champ is to make it an annual thing, from the side of workers to promote wellbeing and collaboration on the platform, to speak about unemployment, reporting protection orders, rape and other issues faced in society. I hope it can be done every year and we can get more groups from the experts to speak,” he said.