When the founders of the Have Fun Early Childhood Development Program encountered the Danish Kaospilots, a seed of inspiration was set. The extent to which a Danish alternative educational project from over 9000km away was open-minded about the interests of a local township community was striking. The two grass-root movements spent a fateful evening together, which would evolve into a regular dining experience in South Africa’s biggest township Khayelitsha. Today I am having a chat with Sivenathi Thonga, one of the facilitators of Dine with Khayelitsha to provide you with a little bit more information about the event.
MK: How came the idea for Dine with Khayelitsha about?
ST: We are just a bunch of regular guys who started Have Fun because we want a brighter future for the kids in our community. Inviting 30 Danes from an entirely different cultural background over for dinner was a magical experience for both sides, our guests and our community. It was amazing for us to see how open minded these foreigners were and how little preconceived ideas they had. However, our dinner with the Kaospilots also reminded us about how divided our own society is and what South Africans could achieve if people start to come to one table. ”
MK: What are you trying to achieve by hosting a monthly dining event in a township?
ST: Most South Africans only know the bad sides of townships from the media. We want to challenge these negative ideas by showing that our communities also has many good sides, which people don’t know of. When our neighbours see a white person, they still see this bigger person. But a white person is the same. It is a human being. Your complexion shouldn’t change how you see yourself. We could see this amazement in the eyes of our people when they realised that white people are also just made of flesh and blood and it is something magical to see conversations taking place that are very unlikely to happen in our South African everyday lives. Dine With Khayelitsha breaks barriers and builds a bridge with the other side of town.
We distance ourselves from township tours where other humans take pictures of other humans of a different colour through the window of big air conditioned tour buses. Dine With Khayelitsha is about bringing people from all cultural backgrounds together to a
purposeful dinner. To that end, different houses in our neighbourhood participate
and our guests are equally distributed on arrival and handed over to their applicable host. Each house has an unique topic, problems are raised and solutions are discussed communally. Topics which are discussed reach from entrepreneurship, social development issues to education or leadership. Our intention is to raise isolated issues, which affect us directly and leave out politics in a broader sense as well as religion. After every dinner, we have some entertainment in store, which mostly includes music from local artists.
All profits made go straight to Have Fun and therefore back into development projects of our community.
MK: Who are your collaborators?
ST: Currently, we collaborate with Ubuntu Bridge, whose founder Craig Makhosi Charnock provides a lesson in basic conversational isiXhosa in one of the houses. Ofentse Omega Mathobe, owner and head chef at Kubu restaurant, is in charge of the food. Newcomer chefs from the neighbourhood have the opportunity to get involved and assist him.
We care about food sovereignty, sustainable agriculture and self-sufficiency. Therefore we are very excited about that fact that Stellar Winery came on board and decided to supply us with locally produced 100% organic fair trade wine, farmed according to sustainable methods. We are a big fan of the brand, since they have decided to work towards biodynamic farming. The Stellar Foundation is known for its efforts in facilitating projects, which empowers farm workers and uplifts local communties.
After everybody shared supper, we usually host local artists. Everybody who is confident, wants to show himself or herself and grow is welcome to perform. At our last DWK event we had the honour to host the Untamed Clan by Sophumla Ntoyabo and Athenkosi Ndulala. Any other artists who are interested can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
For anyone who would like to join us for our event, share a meal with us, engage in meaningful conversation and listen to local artists please follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with new dates.
Photography by Neo Baepi.