NW youth use drama festival to fight crime

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Young aspiring dramatists in the North West province are hard at work preparing to compete at the upcoming Drama Against Crime Festival which will kick off in March, writes Kagiso Metswamere.

The annual festival, which is celebrating its 12th year, was established by a group of young people to help reduce crime among the youth by using drama as a weapon in the province.

This year's festival, which is expected to attract more than 400 artists, follows a partnership between the provincial Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, ABSA bank and the Sowetan newspaper.

Director for Dramatists Against Crime, Martin Koboekae explained that the main objective of the project was to deliver the message that crime does not pay.

The festival will include a series of cultural events that will portray the message across to the youth, he told BuaNews.

This year's event will be more exciting and beneficial to the youth than the previous one. "We have prepared well for all the youth who will be participating and we hope to give the province an exciting festival.

"We are going to have more professional actors and actresses such as Seputla Sebogodi, Mpho Molepo and Presley Cheneyagae who will also be supporting this project," he said.

In the process talented youth will be identified and singled out for mentoring, said Mr Koboekae.

The auditions and the process of selecting the groups which will be competing during the festival have been completed. "The groups have being selected and now they are preparing for the main event on 28 March."

Mr Koboekae highlighted that workshops will be held by professional actors and actresses to train the participants prior to the main festival.

"We will also have the Dramatists Against Crime March led by members of the South African Police Services just before the main festival."

The provincial Department of Sports, Arts and Agriculture, which has contributed R400 000 towards hosting the event, said it would continue to support projects such as this which were helping change the lives of young people.

Departmental spokesperson, Shirley Montsho said: "We are proud to be associated with this project which deals with one of the major problems in South Africa - crime."

She encouraged youngsters to make use of the opportunity this year and make a big change in their own lives.

"We understand that there are talented people who have not been exposed to a situation were they can express they talent. However, this year we will ensure that we create and support those who have the intention to expose such talent," she explained.

Rapula Khumalo, 26, from Tlhabane village in the Rustenburg Local Municipality said he would use this year's festival as a strategic opportunity to get involved in the industry.

"We are ready and hope that through this festival a lot of professional actors and actresses will see what we are capable of doing," he told BuaNews, adding that he hoped that this would give them an opportunity to climb the ladder of success.

Mr Khumalo said they would be able to express their talent as well as encourage youth to fight against crime.

"The festival provides us with the opportunity to send messages to our fellow youth that crime does not pay. I think most young people commit crime because they are unemployed and are bored," he said.

General Communication and Marketing Manager of ABSA in the province, Zine Mogorosi said South African businesses had a responsibility to get involved in the fight against crime.

"We are concerned about the high rate of crime in the country, therefore we believe that extensive partnerships with other companies will play a part in reducing crime."

The purpose of ABSA's involvement in the project is to partner in growing South Africa's prosperity by contributing, through responsible citizenship, to sustainable community development, she said

The Sowetan's Nation Building Manager, Victor Mecoamere told BuaNews that the festival was good community developmental project that would contribute towards fighting social ills. "We can not shy away from the projects which are intended to build our communities."