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Digital Media Kit: Dim-Dep Enviro Blitz

On April 24, the Dim Dep Enviro Blitz, an initiative with eThekwini Municipality and Invotech, will kick off with a media launch.

The Blitz will involve community activations in high-density areas in townships taxi ranks and shopping centers, followed by community outreach projects, where the community and city work together to clean, preserve, and maintain their areas, along with cast members. The Dim-Dep Faces of Environmental Success will debut in June.

PRESS RELEASE 

Dear News Editors/Entertainment and Environment Reporters

Dim-Dep launches enviro blitz

April 16, 2018, Durban, South Africa: Members of the media are invited to the launch of the Dim-Dep Enviro Blitz, boasting the famous Dim-Dep Musical: Faces of Environmental Success, as well as other activities with casts and music legends mixing with audiences in townships and shopping centers.

Back by public demand, popular musician and theatre producer, Atlas Philani Duma, brings back his revitalized and re-energized 2015 show, Dim-Dep Faces of Environmental Success which is part of Dim-Dep Enviro Blitz under the umbrella of the Sagiya Foundation. The main sponsors are Invotech and Ethekwini Municipality.

Presently, the cast are in rehearsals and the show will debut in June 2018. However, before that the cast and crew are taking their production on a whirlwind tour for the next two months throughout KwaZulu-Natal where they, alongside side city officials, promote environmental awareness.

The Blitz will involve community activations in high-density areas in townships taxi ranks and shopping centers, followed by community outreach projects, where the community and city work together to clean, preserve, and maintain their areas, along with cast members. The Dim-Dep Faces of Environmental Success will debut in June.

Duma said: “This is an exciting project for the cast. We will spread our message beyond the stage. Members of the public will be able to see us first hand interacting with them, spreading the mantra and our theme: One Life. One Earth.

“What we provide with Dim-Dep is to use social cohesion to bring back people’s conscience about individual and community ownership of preserving our natural resources.

Dim-Dep Musical: Faces of Environmental Success tells the story from ancient times before urbanisation, industrialisation, and how the environment is affected. The full-length theatre production is just over an hour, with lively music, and explosive commentary.

The play will feature bright costumes and vivid sets to enhance the elements already presented in the story, all of which will be put together by beating drums and jazzy songs and music.

Duma continued: “The show is a representation of life on stage, a presentation of societal living in micro form, on stage. Our appeal goes beyond the youth but it also targets adults using drama as an extensive informant, a vibrant entertainer and profound educator.”

Through this production, Duma touches upon universal themes including right versus wrong, and environmental awareness. “We wanted to show that our actions on this earth have consequences. We go beyond the show in our community activations where we educate and make people aware,” said Duma.

Lead cast member Mandla Sibia said while the show started environmental awareness almost three years ago, it was critical to keep the momentum going.

“If children are inculcated with environmental consciousness early enough, the possibility of environmental awareness and the urge to maintain environmental responsibility could be higher than it is. After the show, we continue in our unique way to spread the message of saving the environment.”

Most of the actors are involved with other mainstream and community projects and at every instance have made the clarion call about preserving the environment.

As an edutainment project, the Dim-Dep Enviro Blitz is unique in South Africa and is a refreshing production encouraging us to pull together for “One Life. One Earth”, says music legend Xolisa Dlamini

 “Through this production we aim not only to create awareness about the environment but also highlight the importance of keeping indigenous music alive.”

The cast comprises Nonkululeko Mchunu, Sibia, Buhle Ngcobo, Nonkululeko Mchunu, Ntokozo Sngqazu Ngcobo Philisiwe Lee Ngamlana, with music by Atlas Philani Duma, Umkhumbane Jazz Ensemble, Madala Kunene, Dlamini, Prof Anthony Rippon etc. under the Musical Director Vincent Mtetwa.

The production is a dual themed production that carries it first theme through conveying messages of conservation of natural resources, while the second theme is the musical history that transforms to international music and cultural revolution.

It also allows young talent to be showcased and offering employment opportunities in the arts field.

Hashtags for campaign: #OneLifeOneEarth #DimDep

Members of the media are invited to the launch of the Dim-Dep Enviro Blitz.

Date: April 24, 2018

Venue: Botanic Gardens

Time: 11-12am

Snacks will be served.

Ends

Issued by FBI Communications on behalf Sagiya Foundation

Notes for Editors

Sagiya Foundation is a performing arts, theatre and musical enterprise production which focuses on delivering a total theatre production and musical enterprise solution to targeted markets. The indoor and outdoor initiatives are Afro-centric and aligned to education and awareness-raising. Sagiya encourages both individual and community development through creative projects that focus on environmentalism and culture, while creating jobs through the projects themselves.

Issued by

Gil Harper

Strategic Marketing Manager

Sagiya Foundation

 

For media queries and requests for interviews, please contact:

Farhana Ismail

Tel. 031 2085525

Cell. 0827876987

farhana@fbicommunications.com

FBI Communications

Facebook: FBI Communications

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under the hashtag #OneLifeOneEarth #DimDep

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About Dim-Dep: Faces of Environmental Success 

Drumming for change

Dim-Dep Musical: Faces of Environmental Success is a musical play inspired by the sound of a beating drum which will showcase during the Dim-Dep Enviro Blitz under the umbrella of the Sagiya Foundation, founded by Atlas Duma, playwright and musician.

Dim-Dep is an acronym for Drums and Indigenous Music Development Project.

The musical is part of the Dim-Dep Enviro Blitz, themed appropriately, One Life. One earth which will run from April to June 2018.

It will involve community activations, with selected snippets of the show, in high-density areas in townships during such as ranks and shopping centres, followed by community outreach projects during June. The musical will debut at the Olive Convention Centre, Durban, for learners during the day and public in the evening from 7-9 June 2018.

The musical tells the story from ancient times before urbanisation, industrialisation, and how the environment is affected.

The cast comprises Nonkululeko Mchunu, Mandla Sibia, Buhle Ngcobo, Xolisa Dlamini,  Ntokozo Ngcobo and Philisiwe Lee Ngamlana, with music by Atlas Philani Duma, Umkhumbane Jazz Ensemble, Madala Kunene, Xolisa Dlamini, Prof Anthony Rippon etc. under the Musical Director Vincent Mtetwa.

The play is narrated by “Mpume”, played by Lee Philisiwe Ngamlana and Ntokozo Sngqazu Ngcobo) and “Sindy” (Buhle Ngcobo and Nonkululeko Mnchunu) from the Abangoni Tribe (Holy Tribe), descended from Central Africa to Southern Africa.

The play also tells the story of the unfolding of music history from blues sung by slaves until it developed to mainstream jazz, be-bop, cool jazz, modern jazz, modern jazz, bubble gum, hip hop, reggae, rock and house.

The play is suitable for all age groups.

 

Profile of Atlas Philani Duma

 

Get to know your director: Meet the multi-talented arts practitioner, Atlas Philani Duma

Popular musician, drummer and theatre producer and play writer, Atlas Philani Duma established Sagiya Foundation out of his love for both art and entertainment and his commitment and passion for community development.

Having launched the Dim-Dep Enviro Blitz under the umbrella of Sagiya, Duma is now busy with rehearsals for the Dim-Dep: Faces of Environmental Success – an ongoing interactive and creative theatre production.

Duma is the founder, author and director of the musical.

The title Dim-Dep is inspired by the sound of that is made by the African drum when hit using hands (dim dep, dim dep), and is also the abbreviation of “Drum and Indigenous Music Development Project”.

His passion for the environment and culture is evident in his theatre, writing and music initiatives.

Duma is the sole director of Sagiya Foundation. He graduated from the former Natal Technikon in 1999 with a National Diploma in Light Music.

Duma’s accolades include being declared a KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Legend of Jazz and a host of other awards.

The Dim-Dep musical received an award in 2016 by the Ethekwini City Council’s Durban Solid Waste (DSW) for being the best Community Environmentalist group.

Speaking about the importance of Dim-Dep Duma said he wanted to inspire change in the public’s attitude towards environmental issues.

“I noticed that people are not aware about the importance of taking care of the environment but rather focus on how they can make money from it. Through Dim-Dep we want to raise awareness and remind the general public about the need to be self-sufficient, to take care of the environment and reduce the carbon footprint.

“The production stresses that taking care of the environment is not just a middle-class issue but a dilemma that involves everyone. We are also teaching small communities to integrate their behaviour towards fighting pollution and addressing issues. Not leaving out that sustaining the environment is everyone’s issue,” said Duma.

Duma said the audience should look forward to having a refreshingly unique experience with the Dim-Dep cast and expect to be taken on an adventure.

“We will be taking the production to the local townships as well as conducting mall and community activations. The audience should anticipate to be taken on a great adventure from the Stone Age into the modern era,” explained Duma.

“I have received feedback from various schools with regards to the marks of children who attend the live shows. They highlight that there has been an improvement in their results and their understanding of the importance of preserving the environment,” he added.

Apart from running the Dim-Dep Environ Blitz, Duma’s organisation conducts community engagement initiatives and motivational talks in schools to educate pupils about the importance of preserving our planet throughout the year.

Duma hails from Bulwer, a small township in Pietermaritzburg. After he completed his matric, he relocated to KwaMashu.

He was a member of the band Renaissance for five years.

After leaving the band, he joined a production called We are Alive Kids with Edmund Mhlongo as the lead for two years at Kwa Mashu Community Advancement Projects (K-CAP).

After the production, he started his own musical band titled Sagiya Band.

Some of Duma’s other achievements include the 2002 Old Mutual Jazz Encounters Award for Best Composer.

Taking Dim-Dep national for the first time has not been easy according to Duma.

“Dim-Dep has been only done at a provincial level and not nationally. Because of shortage of sponsorships and limited resources it never reached out the way I wanted it to. We are now hoping to change that,” he said.

Dim-Dep features a multitude of musical genres that changes the historical landscape: from Afro Blues to mainstream Jazz, Bebop, Cool Jazz, Modern Jazz, Pop, Hip-Pop, Maskandi, and House music.

Founder, author and director of Dim-Dep: Faces of Environmental Success, Atlas Philani Duma.

 

Images of the cast

 

Ntokozo Ngcobo(Mpume) and Atlas Philani Duma

 

Mandla Sibia (Mngoni) and Atlas Philani Duma.

 

Atlas Philani Duma with theatrical director Sibongiseni Zephania Nzama

 

Profile of Mandla Sibia

 

Performing arts is a calling

Mandla Sibia (30) promised himself as a young boy that he would make a name for himself as one of the greats in the theatre and production business.

Sibia, father of three, plays the leading role of Mngoni (Mpume’s father) – a humbled man with dignity in the musical Dim-Dep: Faces of Environmental Success.

“The audience can expect excitement, laughter and be prepared to learn new things,” he said.

“Shows like Dim-Dep are very important because there are a lot of things that we take for granted and are not aware of, especially in the black community. Dim-Dep teaches us to appreciate and embrace who we are, the importance of knowing your culture, your country and the importance of taking care of the environment.”

Originally from Ogies Farm in Mpumalanga, he was raised by a single parent and determined to change the future of his family he decided to pursue a career in performing arts.

Sibia started laying the foundation for his career in the performing arts in 2004, while in high school, when he joined Sindiso Nkosi, the owner of Izigi Performing Arts Company where he received training until 2008.

“When I was in Nkosi’s company we did a lot of educational production shows. They mainly focused on industrial mines to teach miners about safety and HIV/Aids,” he said.

After he left Izigi he completed a three months dance training course with the Moving Into Dance company in Johannesburg.

After completing the training he opened his own performing arts company, Siyanqoba Performing Arts in 2009.

He explained that while growing up he used to see a lot of young kids sitting from dusk till dawn not doing anything.

“So I had a vision about taking these children and giving them hope and getting them off the streets,” said Sibia.

He shared some of the biggest highlights include performing at the 2010 World Cup with the likes of Zakumi, and travelling to Tromso, Norway with his cast.

He was also the winner of the Naledi Award for the best community theatre director in 2010.

 

 

Profile of Philisiwe Lee Ngamlana

The Sky’s the limit

Philisiwe Lee Ngamlana (22) gave up a future in engineering to pursue her “destiny” in the entertainment industry.

Ngamlana is one of the actors who plays the character of Mpume Mngoni – a powerful, energetic and creative black woman proud of being a member of Abangoni Tribe, which is part of the Dim-Dep: Faces of Environmental Success.

Ngamlana said she related to her character and believed it was the most suitable role for her.

“Mpume is from th Mngoni clan in the Stone Age era. She is a princess and the type of character who just wants change and who fights for what’s right, even if it means that it will go against her father’s will. Like me, she is very strong willed,” she added.

Philisiwe is a third-year drama student at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and believes that being in the entertainment industry is something she was destined for.

“Theatre is a calling for me. It’s a passion and I believe it’s something that has always been following me,” Philisiwe said

After matriculating in 2013 to fulfil her parents’ wishes, she pursued her studies in engineering. But she said she could not resist the urge in her to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a performer.

“While I was doing engineering I was performing at the same time. Even in high school. I was doing science, but I was the only science student who would hang out with the drama department,” said Ngamlana.

She said productions like Dim-Dep assisted artists to grow and be groomed into becoming future stars.

“Not only is it a platform for us to showcase our talent, but it’s a platform for us to teach others and be taught. We are being taught how to appreciate and sustain nature, how we need to take care of our planet so it can take care of us,” concluded Ngamlana.

 

 Profile of Prof Anthony Rippon

Academic, musician and environmentalist 

Proffesor Anthony (Tony) Rippon is a man, who in his own words “wears a couple of hats”, one being an ambassador for the Dim-Dep Enviro Blitz aimed at highlighting environmental matters through “edutainment”.

Dim-Dep: Faces of Environmental Success is an ongoing interactive and creative theatre production.

“My role involves promoting legends, those special people that are role models in arts and culture and pro-active in environmental issues,” Rippon said.

His described his friendship and collaboration with Atlas Duma, the founder, author and director of Dim-Dep, as a meeting of minds.

“We share a passion for the arts and both are hoping to achieve a shift towards people understanding the importance of looking after the environment,” Rippon said.

His participation in Dim-Dep happened by chance when in July 2015 he saw a production of Dim-Dep at a small venue at the Play House in Durban.

“I was attracted to it as I both music and the environment is close to my heart and in the back of my mind I saw the potential for a ‘life case study’. At the time I was a full time academic and working on the development of an environmental module,” said Rippon.

He arranged to meet Duma and the two men immediately recognised how much they had in common.

“During that first conversation we realized we shared a passion as musicians and using entertainment as an educational tool. I became involved in Dim-Dep and it ended up as being an awesome experience with the cast growing from about seven to more than 60 and moving to the Opera Theatre at the Play House,” said Rippon.

Rippon’s first role was as an advisor, but he ended up with a small part in the musical as well as composing and writing a song Too Blind to See that was used in the finale.

Rippon also act as a strategic advisor for the Sagiya Foundation – a performing arts, theatre and musical enterprise production, also founded by Duma.

Rippon (60) was born in Pietermaritzburg, Kwazulu-Natal and after working for several years in the transport, environmental and tourism industry, he studied further and completed several degrees at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). He received several accolades including a Legends Award in 2016.

He is married to Aneza and has two grown up daughters, Alechia and Marique.

Now based in Pennington on the KZN South Coast he is also involved in academic work, lecturing, coaching, mentoring, facilitating motivational speaking and consulting.

However, his 1st passion is being a musician and promoting the importance of arts and culture’s role in education followed, or rather equaled, by his love and consideration of the environment.

“I believe in edu-entertainment. It is different, inspirational, motivational and healing,” said Rippon.

 

 

Profile of Xolisa Dlamini

Destined for greatness

Musician and singer Xolisa Dlamini (47) is regarded as a legend and veteran of theatre who believes she has always been in sync with music and sees herself destined for greatness and as a creative person.

Dlamini plays the role of Spivey, a free spirited and articulate character who represents the new age in the upcoming musical play, Dim Dep: Faces of Environmental Success.

She acts as a mentor to the young cast but is also a character in it.

Her passion for music has manifested in her quest to impart a piece of her passion in people’s hearts when she performs.

Dlamini has performed at many high-profile events, to critical acclaim, and was a highlight at the Sista’s Healing Our Soul in Cape Town. She also performed in Scotland for the 2014 Common Wealth games with Philani Ngidi, Hugh Masekela, Mahotela Queens and Micasa and in the inauguration of President Thabo Mbeki.

She has also recorded and performed with Busi Mhlongo, Serio Diaz from Brazil , Elie Kihonia from the Republic of Congo as a backing vocalist and Hanse Genzo from Australia.

Dlamini released her second album “Afro Blue” in June 2010 which includes hits like “Vuma” and “Ndim Ndedwa”.

Dlamini hails from the small village of Rode in the Eastern Cape. After her father died when she was five-years-old, her mother, a music and English teacher, was the great force behind Dlamini’s love of music.

Dlamini started singing in her church’s worship team at Umtata Christian Church. She believes that is where it all began for her.

She completed her National Diploma in music at the then Natal Technikon (Durban University of Technology) and conducted Jazz Voice lectures in the music department from 1998 to 2003.  She recently completed her Bachelor of Practical Music (B-Prac) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and is due to graduate this year (2018).

She is also an avid environmentalist.

“Personally, I make sure that my house is built on natural substances and organic goods. Even when I’m purchasing anything, anywhere, I make sure it’s naturally grown and doesn’t necessarily have artificial properties.”

The mother of three – two daughters and one son – continues to conduct private vocal lessons to many musicians at the Bat Centre under a programme funded by the KZN Department of Arts and Culture.

Speaking about following her dreams she said, “It’s always good to follow your dream and do what makes you feel content and not void, because when you are doing what you love, you will always give of your best.”

Dlamini along with her co-composer, collectively won the Radio Metro Song Competition in 1997. In 1998 she then went on to represent South Africa in Norway’s biggest festival of traditional music.

In 2000 she made it to the national finals of the Old Mutual Jazz Competition in the vocal category.  She also went on to record with Slaelo Selota in 2001, and later with the Tehilla Praise Family in 2002. She is also a SAMA award nominee for her first album Times which was nominated in two categories for the best female composer and best contemporary album.  She is also a Metro award nominee for her album Afro Blue for the best contemporary jazz album.

She is inspired by the music of Busi Mhlongo, Dianne Reeves, Bheki Mseleku, Chaka Khan, Feya Faku, Demi Fernandez, Susan Barry, Miles Davies, Sibongile Khumalo, Miriam Makeba, and many more.

 

Profile of Buhle Ngcobo

Performing arts chose me

Growing up in the small township of KwaDukuza did not stop the fierce and outgoing Buhle Ngcobo (24) from fulfilling her dream of becoming a performer.

Buhle plays Sindy in the musical play, Dim-Dep: Faces of Environmental Success. She said her character was very emotional, strong and challenging.

She plays a very brave and intelligent woman who survived a rape ordeal.

This child, however, had to grow up on her own and take care of herself.

“I strongly relate to Sindy. To play this role was very therapeutic as I suffered great loss at an early age when I escaped a horrific ordeal. I learnt about gaining strength and confidence from this role.”

“This production takes us back to remind us where we come from as Africans. To learn about our culture, the beauty of our culture and how in past decades, our forefathers used to depend on nature and how this planet used to take care of them,” said Ngcobo.

Although still new in the game she says, she’s one to keep an eye on because from here, she is “going to greater heights”.

Buhle said she fell in love with theatre because it could be used to tell the stories about people and was an escape from reality.

“I started off as a poetry writer and I told myself if I can recite poems, I can accompany them with actions and body movements. That’s how my journey into refining my gift to perform started,” she said.

After matriculating in 2012 she studied performing arts and production at the Creative Arts College where she graduated in 2016.

Her involvement with Dim-Dep started in 2018 and has been “exhilarating”.

“I came to Dim-Dep because I wanted to grow in what I’m doing. I wanted to learn, explore and I was very interested to be involved in a play that talks about our environment,” said Ngcobo.

She has also taken part in the Ishashalazi Women Theatre Festival – a platform for female performing artists to showcase their own short drama pieces in a competitive format.

Looking ahead, Ngcobo says she wants to collaborate with seasoned theatre performers and learn as much as she can and also explore a venture into the hospitality industry.

Buhle Ngcobo and Ntokozo Ngcobo

 

Profile of Ntokozo Ngcobo

Woman with many talents

Ntokozo Ngcobo (28) has been in the entertainment industry for more than nine years. making a name for herself as a poet, motivational speaker, actor, presenter and singer.

The returning Dim-Dep cast member believes this year’s production will “be bigger and better” and will leave the audience wanting for more. Dim-Dep: Faces of Environmental Success debuts in June.

She portrays the reincarnation of Mpume Mngoni in the 21st Century.

Ngcobo said awareness about such productions needs to be raised.

“They educate, inform and are practical, because it shows that it is not only developed countries that are able to take care of the environment. This type of productions requires community participation to get the message across. The message is clear that whether you are from a rural area or the townships, the earth is ours and it is up to us to protect it,” said Ngcobo.

After studying journalism at Varsity College Ngcobo decided entertainment was her main passion.

She trained at the Playhouse Theatre Company and her big break into the industry was in 2009 when she was cast in her first professional theatre production in the United Kingdom.

Ngcobo performed at the Arts and Cultural Diversity Expo in 2009 under the wing of Alex Wallace.

Other productions she has been involved in include Athol Fugard’s Hello and Goodbye and My Children, My Africa as well as Full Circle and films include Umcebo Kababa and Fun Few Nights.

Apart from theatre she has worked with musicians including Zahara, Mzwakhe Mbuli, Musa Sukwena, Chicco Twala, and the late Robbie Malinga, Mafikizolo, Kelly Khumalo in 2013 in the Stop Xenophobia project.

When she is not performing she gives motivational talks at schools.

“Although the production does not run for the whole year, I still raise awareness about the message Dim-Dep is conveying. I give motivational talks in schools and some of the topics include environment sustainability,” said Ngcobo.

 

 

 

Profile of Nonkululeko Mchunu

Passionate Dancer

 


Nonkululeko Mchunu (32) is a dancer with big dreams and relates to her role as 21st Century Sindy in Atlas Duma’s production of the Dim-Dep Musical 2018.

“I don’t have to pretend I am something I am not as Sindy and I are very similar. We have big dreams, are involved in our communities and want to improve our environment,” Mchunu said.

In the production Sindy is a brave, intelligent woman with big dreams that is only realized when she is reincarnated in the 21st Century.

“Stone Age Sindy could not fulfil her dreams, but ‘my’ Sindy has the opportunity. She is a successful business woman who wants to help others. I also try my best to help the community of Clermont by doing choreography for community theatre productions,” Mchunu said.

Mchunu grew up in Clermont and has been involved in dancing from a young age.

“I always wanted to be a dancer and did some drama at Sithengile Secondary School, but dropped the subject. However, I was involved in the school plays,” Mchunu said.

She said her mother, Primrose, was not very happy with her dancing dreams, but years later when she performed with a group at her mother’s place of employment at Rand Water in Johannesburg her mother was very proud of her daughter.

After leaving school Mchunu befriended some actors and that renewed her interest in drama.

She continued dancing mostly as a background dancer for other artists as well as dancing in and choreographing community productions.

Mchunu heard about Dim-Dep from a friend, Cherise Filen, who was involved in earlier productions and was thrilled to be chosen as Sindy.

“Sindy is actually a Coloured women, but I am light skinned and got the part,” said Mchunu.
Mchunu said she could identify with the character and that made it easier.

“The production also deals with real issues our communities face daily. What I also like about Dim-Dep is that it grows each year, reflecting things that are really going on like human trafficking and xenophobia and the destruction of the environment,” Mchunu said.

She added that some people did not realise that if they take care of nature they were taking care of “us”.

Mchunu described herself as shy, but if something needs to be done she was passionate.

“I am a good listener because I love to learn things from people I respect,” she said.

Mchunu plans to further her studies once the production’s current run was finished.

“I’d like to improve my language skills so that I can act in more productions and one day be in television dramas,” Mchunu said.

 

 

Profile of Madala Kunene

Madala Kunene reaching out to audiences

One of South Africa’s greatest guitarist, music veteran, performer, father and husband Madala Kunene is giving his all to raise awareness about the environment.

At 67 years old he is without a doubt king of the Zulu guitar and Zulu blues – and he is one of the leading greats involved in the Dim-Dep Enviro Blitz, which kicks off its campaign on Tuesday, April 24..

Making a great return to the theatre production: Dim-Dep: Faces of Environmental Success, Kunene is scheduled to be the opening act of the musical this year. The legendry guitarist and musician will brace the audience with symphonic sounds of jazz and mild blues.
Dim-Dep: Faces of Environmental Success is an ongoing interactive and creative theatre production.

Not only will he be accompanied by his favoured instrument, the guitar but he will also have with him “isitolotolo” (mouth harp). Some songs which he will perform include “Gumbela” and “Undendezana”.

Kunene said: “It is time that people stand together and make a difference on all levels. I am really looking forward to be in the production and I hope we will be performing in other provinces soon.”

Kunene will be part of the environmental awareness with the cast in the coming months.

“I have always been involved in my community and always try to convey a message. When I perform I reach out to people about what is important,” he said.

Kunene was born in Kwa-Mashu, KwaZulu-Natal.
His music genre is flexible just like the strings on his guitar. His sound is a transfusion of cool jazz, maskandi, mbaqanga and East Coast melancholy.

Still one of the music legends from the 90’s who is a figure of virtual anonymity his music has an acquired taste among jazz and blues enthusiasts.

Called to be a musician, his love for music was already ignited from an early age as he started off as a busker at an early on Durban’s beach-front at the age of seven, making his first guitar out of a cooking oil tin and fish gut for the strings, soon becoming a popular performer in the townships.

Kunene was discovered by Sipho Gumede who later brought him to “the city of gold” Johannesburg where he performed with prominent musicians such as Winston Mankunku Ngozi, Busi Mhlongo and the late Hugh Masekela, to name a few.Kunene has performed in countries such as Germany, the United States, Switzerland and France.

When he is at home he is favourite at the Durban’s KZNSA Gallery as well as the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

 

 

 

Profile of Gabriel Youngstar Masango

Dancing to make a difference

 

Choreographer for Dim-Dep: Faces of Environmental Success and South Africa’s top 10 finalist for “So You Think You Can Dance Season 3”,Gabriel Youngstar Masango is giving his all to raise awareness about environmental sustainability through dance.

The KwaMashu born multi-talented African contemporary dancer has been part of the Dim-Dep family since 2016.

“My link to Dim-Dep is through Mr Philnani Duma who scouted me when he was looking for one of the best dance choreographers for Dim-Dep,” said Masango.

Recognised internationally and well-travelled, he has a host of awards to his name, ranging from SA best dance choreographer to being is rated 2nd best all Over the World as best solo, teacher, and choreographer in the World Lyrical Dance Federation.

He joined the Dim-Dep Enviro Blitz campaign to not only do what he loves but to also dance for change.

“Being an ambassador for the production means a lot to me. It gives me the opportunity to represent where I come from and become an inspiration to aspiring dancers. It has also provided me with the platform to lead by example when it comes to taking care of the environment, as well as teach others and highlight the importance of environmental sustainability,” said Masango.

With many talents bestowed upon him Masango is a music Artist, DJ, music composer/producer, teacher, choreographer, broadcast presenter.

He began his dance career at Phenduka Youth Dance Development. His first official performance was when he performed at Giyanilusha in 2006. In the same year he also started his own production company called Youngstar Production. From 2007 till 2008 he joined Kwa-Mashu School of Dance. He was the dance captain at Mandlakazulu Primary School. In middle 2007 he joined Emzini Art Production part time. In 2009 he went back to work for Kwa-Mashu School of Dance as a teacher. He performed at Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, and was nominated a breakthrough new comer. In 2009 he performed in Reunion Island and represent South Africa, in the show called ContreSud.

In 2010 he choreographed a piece called Moment of Life and People Around Us that was performed in Dance Umbrella Festival. In 2012 he was the acting Director for Dusi Dance Company where he taught dance at Edgewood University of UKZN. In the same year, he initiated the wellness dance program for EThekwini Municipality – Art and Living Culture. He was also invited by the Malawian based company called Intensity Dance Company to collaborate with them and Soul City Company from Reunion Island in 2012.

In 2013 he choreographed InkinaNkina that toured African Continent as well as choreographed Fixed Me and Keep Up for Dance Umbrella Festival.

 

 

 

Profile of Gil Harper

Let’s meet Gil Harper, Strategic Marketing Manager Sagiya Foundation

Durban born and bred Gil Harper has been the strategic manager of the Sagiya Foundation, a performing arts, theatre, musical and creative enterprise aligned to education and awareness-raising, since the beginning of the year.

Harper is one of the strategic minds behind the Dim-Dep Enviro Blitz, boasting the famous Dim-Dep Musical: Faces of Environmental Success, as well as other activities with casts and music legends mixing with audiences in townships and shopping centers. Sagiya is the driver for the Dim-Dep campaign.

The main sponsors are Invotech and Ethekwini Municipality, supported by the Bat Centre.

The Blitz will involve community activations in high-density areas in townships taxi ranks and shopping centers, followed by community outreach projects, where the community and city work together to clean, preserve, and maintain their areas, along with cast members. The Dim-Dep Faces of Environmental Success will debut in June.

Harper explained that the Dim-Dep Musical was one of the four arms of the Sagiya Foundation.

“It (Sagiya) is very Afro-Centric .This type of edutainment is unique in South Africa as, for example, when doing a theatre production, Sagiya will take to the streets and go to high-density areas for community activations, and do community projects as well to get individual and community involvement,” Harper said.

Harper met Atlas Duma, the CEO of Sagiya Foundation that produces Dim-Dep Musical, through a mutual colleague.

“It was an immediate fit as I had just left a 10-year job in youth empowerment where I wore many hats, including programmes and marketing,” Harper said.

She said Dim-Dep was about providing youth with skills and opportunities, as they perform alongside legends in the industry.

“So voila, that is how it happened!”

She said Sagiya encouraged individuals to take action to make positive change around them, and at the same time it was also about community development and ownership.

“We do this through creative projects that focus mainly on environmentalism and culture, while creating jobs through the projects themselves. Sagiya is aimed at youth in terms of empowerment and development – and the young at heart through recognising and promoting talent. The exciting part is when legends and youth come together in the different projects,” Harper said.

Harper has travelled the world, but said and there was no place like home.

She has three sons; Aaron (21), Liam (19) and Daniel (15).

“I am so passionate about youth empowerment and have a special interest in youth justice – youth in conflict with the law, at risk, and those trying to turn their lives around after being in contact with the law,” she said.

She has experience in various industries, always with a focus on marketing and communications and headed the Agenda Feminist Media project as managing editor.

“Working in the labour field, I pioneered dispute prevention initiatives at the CCMA (the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA),” she said.

Harper is also a regular editor of books.

Harper said Sagiya had several objectives with with Dim-Dep.

“Mainly to ensure the Municipality and all stakeholders take ownership of environmental issues – to position also a specific leaders/organisations as the champions and model for innovative and effective partnerships with citizens in promoting environmental sustainability,” Harper said.

The organisation aims to create individual change through “conscientising” individuals to understand how each individual can contribute to making change environmentally.

“This is about shift in mindset then behaviour change for different results; to develop community ownership so that the community leaders are driving change in each community for sustainable living,” Harper said.

In the long term, she said, the aim was to take Dim-Dep around the country and continent, spreading the message of acting for change.

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