"We cannot mimic American cultures, we have to be unique and do what we know”


An announcement ceremony of an arts academy called the National Academy of Africa's Performing Arts (NAAPA) was held in Soweto, Jabulani at the Soweto Theatre. 

South African icons Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbulu who are both music writers, musicians and performing artists have decided to start an academy that will provide formal education in performing arts such as music, drama, dance, filming, playing as well as manufacturing and repairing instruments. This comes after the couple saw a gap in the Arts and Culture sector and the need to empower Africans.

Hosted by veteran broadcaster, Tim Modise, the event was also attended by the Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthetwa, Don Mathera the poet, writer, producer and stage actor John Kani, Jerry Mofokeng and singer/song writer Sipho Hotstix Mabuse. The National Anthem was sung before the commencement of the event as a reminder that we are Africans. 

"For the longest time, Africans have had to rely on foreign interpretations of what a true artist is but with this academy, it will enable Africans to articulate and interpret the performing arts from their own historical and cultural perspective", said Caiphus Semenya. 

The arts academy which is still under construction is based in Soweto within the Jabulani Precinct which is in the Jabulani CBD, in the heart of Soweto. 


(Arts & Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa)


Minister Nathi Mthetwa mentioned that he promises a change in the landscape of our entertainment industry and there are two main tools to help make this a reality and that is the ability to pass laws and the budget. "We cannot mimic American cultures, we have to be unique and do what we know, the arts and culture sector also aims at putting more money into NAAPA for training and teaching”.

The crowd was treated to the showing of the unfinished construction site that is to be finished by 2019 and a tribute poem for the late Mama Miriam Makeba, recited by Don Mathera. "This land is bleeding and it must be healed. Mama we miss you. It takes a poet to help heal this land and through my words I want this country to become a better place”, recited Mathera. 


(Legendary musician, Caiphus Semenya)


An emotional Letta Mbulu thanked the main sponsors Inkanyeni for the support, the Minister for wanting to invest in the education and training side of things while John Basha donated R1000 on top of the R36 000 that he had already donated. 
"Africa has so much talent and people from our townships are hungry and it holds rich talent hence we decided to invest here in the heart of Soweto", says Mbulu.


By Nonzwakazi Ramaube

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