M.U.K.A. - Project

1994 – the end of Apartheid – was for the people of South Africa a time full of upheaval. Many young people moved from the townships to the centre of the cities, where they frequently found themselves again living on the street. Here, in 1995, the M.U.K.A. Project came into being. At a 'shelter' run by the Evangelical Church in Johannesburg, youths who had moved from Soweto met each other, and together began to develop theatre plays. Naming themselves the 'Most United Knowledgeable Artists', or, M.U.K.A., they built their experiences as street children into their productions, and used streets, community centres and churches as a stage.

M.U.K.A. as a shelter

Today the M.U.K.A. project is an institution in Hillbrow, a problem area in Johannesburg's inner city. 50 children, 30 youths and 15 young adults rehearse in three groups (Kids, Youth and Seniors) theatre plays and choreographed dance numbers. They play music, organize workshops, drum, compose texts, and dance. From the handful of street kids of the past, professional actors and theatre managers have been made.

Daily life in Hillbrow

Hillbrow is a tough number. Violence and crime, drugs and prostitution, rape and depravity, HIV/Aids and poverty are the prevailing themes in the everyday lives of the children and youth – as is reflected in the theatre plays and workshops of the young M.U.K.A. actors. Through theatre work they learn to express their fears and hopes creatively, thereby offering other young people on the street alternatives to the violence of their everyday existence.

Social commitment

Artistic work and being socially active in the community are closely linked in the M.U.K.A. project. M.U.K.A. is a member of the Johannesburg Alliance for Street Children (JASC), works in various soup kitchens for the needy, supports unemployed youth with grants, and is also active in hostels for women. An important part of the work are the theatre perfomances and workshops that deal with non-violent solutions for conflicts in schools – in shantytowns as well as in the richer suburbs of Johannesburg. Neighbours and parents of the youth are invited to free performances, community workshops and discussion groups.

Successful tours

 M.U.K.A. Project is successful: The members of M.U.K.A. - Project often travel through South Africa and its neighbourcountries to perform their shows. The theatre intiative from Johannesburg has been awarded for several times and has already been invited to Europe by KinderKulturKarawane for eight times now.


For the production they will be showing in this year's KinderKulturKarawane, the youths of M.U.K.A. - project have done a lot of research about climate change and climate justice. By doing so, they regarded the rich suburbs just as much as the destitute squatter camps. Their discoveries will be brought on stage in an enthrailling performance with a lot of music and dance

Nyambose is a family man.He lives together with his wife (Kelly) and two daughters (Sidumisile, 11) and (Nozi, 8) who are both attending school, in the community of Browhill.
He already worked for three years as a security guard when Nyambose finds himself in deep trouble with debt from different illegal loan sharks. His children are chased away from school because of unpaid school fees and his wife leaves him for a richer man from the neighbourhood.
Nyambose has to leave his job and resorts to "UKUPHANDA" (engl. hustle).
There, he collects any metal (from solid to scrap), old car and truck tyres and electrical cables, burns them and sells the wire to scrap yards.
This kind of business is a nightmare for community because of the heavy air- and waterpollution that it causes. Because of the polluted water, all plants in the area begin to die. The airpollution causes suffer to the animals and inhabitants of the community but especially to the children who develop strong chest pains. But all the community's complaints to Nyambose fall in deaf ears.

It wasn't until his daughter Sidumisile got diagnosed with tuberculosis, that Nyambose reflects his action and decides to change.

In an effort to show his remorse to the community, Nyambose convinces two friends to join him in his new and smoke free work. This consists of cutting trees and selling the firewood to the nearby Mnyamandawo squatter camp. Days passed and the bussines becomes more and more sucessful. Nyambose's children can go back to school and do excellent work. But  few years on, there are very little trees to cut. That's why Nyambose is forced to start a new business of digging and selling pit sand from the same deforested land and also digging and selling river from the local Skotoor River.

After a heavy rainfall that claims the lives of Two children and storms that vanish the shacks, the communities of Browhill and Mnyamandawo are vulnerable, confused and depressed.
At a community gathering the inhabitantsmeet to find solutions and mourn the death of the children. Sidumisile who recently passed her matric with 7 Distinctions including Mathematics, Science and Geography brings a new light of a new dawn and hope. She explains how the people in these communities haveprovoked a vast soil erosion, deforestation, tuberculosis, ozone layer destruction and how they therefore interfered with the echo system.

"Is this theinheritcance that we want to give our next generations?"

In the end the communities hold hands and work together for rebuilding and restoring. They agree to realize a plant-adopt-pogramm which means planting a cassilis tree and a fruit tree for each house hold or shack in the community and to take care of it.

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