youth Archives - SASDI Alliance

FEDUP’s recipe in the Free State: agriculture, income and Nala Local Municipality

By Archive, FEDUP, Youth No Comments

Mariel Zimmermann (on behalf of CORC)

“Large mines in the Free State are falling on hard times. Subsequently, our Federation members are complaining that it is now difficult to find employment in the mining sector. Historically, some of our members have used mining as a significant source of income. This is difficult since some of these mines are now closing. This development particularly affects the younger population, as their options to earn a living are even more limited.” – Lebohang Moholo (Savings Facilitator of the Federation in Free State)

Against this background, the Federation of the Rural and Urban Poor (FEDUP) in the Free State is exploring new ground – generating income through cultivating farmland. Agriculture offers an opportunity to create employment and to “keep the youth busy”, as Lebohang puts it. This approach aims to both reduce crime and counteract the negative consequences of the economic downturn that often affects the most vulnerable people in society.

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Saving Scheme in Free State

Income as a result of partnership: how FEDUP engaged Nala Municipality

FEDUP identified farmland in Wesselsbron (a farming town south of Bothaville), which is owned by the municipality and has been unused for years. FEDUP approached the officials with the proposal of an agricultural development project. Negotiations around an agreement with Nala Local Municipality (NLM) started in 2016. FEDUP wanted to provide the community with agricultural land to plough grain products, vegetables and dairy as well as technical knowledge and through agriculture create alternative sources of income.

In a first step, members of the Federations held a presentation about their activities and engagements to the municipality. This space was also used to introduce the Federation’s intention to launch agricultural development project. As the identified land has been cultivated by another community, which had left years ago, the municipality first needed to check with the leadership of that former community whether the land could be used or not. Having received this approval, FEDUP and different departments of the municipality met again for numerous times to discuss and to clarify the details of the arrangement.

On 26 May 2017, a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between FEDUP and Nala Local Municipality was signed. In this MoA the municipality would lease 20 hectares of unused farmland to the Federation free of charge from June 2017 to June 2020. NLM would also assist FEDUP by providing expert knowledge, as officials with agricultural expertise would help to train community members.

Lebohang describes the process of partnering with the municipality “as a long journey, which needed a high level of perseverance. It took about a year to make that agreement. We [FEDUP] went to projects officials, councillors and agricultural officials. Finally, we received the land.”

Even though the agricultural partnership took a long time, Lebohang describes it as a smooth process without any considerable challenges.

“The reason for that lies in the good relationship we have established with them [the government] over the time. We first built a relationship with them via land – we had meetings with them, we invited the councillors to our meetings and we also attend their meetings.”

Lebohang refers to a PHP project (People’s Housing Process) in Bothaville where FEDUP and Nala Local Municipality were jointly engaged in the construction of 50 houses. By building on the existing relationship, FEDUP managed to engage NLM around agriculture.

What does it take to make the MoA work on the ground?

Even though the agreement was signed nearly a year ago, the actual cultivation of the land has not started yet. The delay is due to extremely hard soil conditions because the land lay fallow for several years, which meant that the Federation members were not able to plant their vegetables. The delay is also due to a delay in technical skills training, without which the Federation does not want to start cultivating the land. Mama Emily (Regional Coordinator of the Federation in Free State) reflects,

“We want to do it correctly and this from the beginning. Our relationship with the municipality is mixed – sometimes it is good, sometimes it is bad. When it comes to meeting, the officials were always available. However, when it comes to decision-making it is very hard. They tell us that they will make a plan and that they will get back to us. But they do not. As soon as they have to provide something, it does often not happen or takes a long time.”

In order to see movement on the ground, the Federation is including youth in their negotiations with officials.

“We want to involve them in the development of the project, we want to have their opinion and actually we want to give them the ball. We hope this approach helps to speed up skills training and project implementation, as the municipality has identified youth engagement as a clear priority.”

In addition, the Federation currently negotiates with an external professional that works in the agricultural field for assistance in terms of technical knowledge and equipment, so that Federation members do not need to wait for government for skills training.


Saving scheme meeting in Free State

When reflecting on the past year of negotiating and exploring this new ground, one aspect becomes particularly evident for the Federation: when existing and established relationships are taken care of, they can offer a good foundation to build on over time:

“It is vital that each of us [FEDUP and the municipality] understands how the other works. This helps with negotiating and prevents misunderstandings. We also need to do our research – in particular on planned projects”.

Because of the agreement with Nala Local Municipality, 32 people heard about the work of FEDUP and joined a savings scheme called Kopano Ke Matla – Unity Is Strength. How true this is, especially when poor residents engage their municipalities.

How Mpumalanga Youth Create Change, Acquire Land and Income

By FEDUP No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

FEDUP's KwaNdebele youth group in Mpumalanga

FEDUP’s KwaNdebele youth group in Mpumalanga

For Sylvia Mduli South Africa’s Youth Day on 16 June 2014 was energising and inspiring. She recounts how the Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP) gathered seventy FEDUP youth coordinators from across the country for a workshop in Durban. Discussions focussed on the youth’s experiences on the ground, their challenges and how they could use FEDUP’s mobilisation tools to organise themselves, build partnerships and influence change in their lives and communities.

“When I went to the youth exchange in Durban I saw how active other youth groups were and how they ran their youth activities. So I wanted to start my own youth group. Since then we have grown a lot and our members are doing many activities including income generation. Our challenge is that we need land for a youth office so we can do our work. We asked the FEDUP mamas to help us organise a partnership meeting with the local chiefs and councillor so we could share our work and negotiate for land”.

(Sylvia Mduli, Mpumalanga Youth Coordinator)

Sylvia Mduli (far left) with fellow FEDUP youth coordinators

Sylvia Mduli (far left) with fellow FEDUP youth coordinators

The meeting took place in early December 2015 in KwaMhlangu and was supported by long-standing FEDUP coordinators Nomvula Mahlangu (Mpumalanga) and Rose Molokoane (National). The group introduced itself to the listeners present, speaking about membership, its momentum of gathering savings and their income generation initiatives. Sylvia explained that the group’s struggle for land was based on the aim of building their own houses. Their immediate priority, however, was acquiring land for a youth office that would be a space for gatherings and income generation activities such as beading or storing recyclables.

“In 2015 our group had 62 members – 40 women and 22 men. We saved a total of R 15 970. As a group we do daily savings and collect them from each member during door-to-door visits. We also do stokvel and birthday party savings. We meet every fortnight and exchange ideas. This is how we started recycling cans, bottles and boxes and selling them to the depot. We used our recycling income to organise an end-of-year party We also use our earnings for more income generation – some members have a hairsalon, utshisa nyama [street barbecue] or do beading.   We also have a small catering business with 22 chairs that we rent out. We bought them for R40 each and rent them out for R7 each. You know we are always fighting for the money. Its not easy but we are trying!”

(Sylvia Mduli, Mpumalanga Youth Coordinator)

Mpumalanga youth collect door to door savings

Mpumalanga youth collect door to door savings

Rose Molokoane (Left), Nomovula Mahlangu (Right)

Rose Molokoane (Left), Nomovula Mahlangu (Right)

Together with the chiefs and councillor the group inspected a large piece of land, a portion of which was promised to the youth in a prior meeting. Sylvia emphasised the success of the youth group’s meeting with the elders who agreed to sell a portion of land to them. They also supported a FEDUP by joining the FEDUP funeral scheme and requested that the youth group present their work to youth in the chiefs’ area. The councillor indicated his interest in engaging with the youth as a group that could mobilise the entire community.

“We now need to make a proposal to the chief and continue to save. It will be local elections soon so there will be a new councillor. This can be difficult but we will continue to talk to the new councillor. I have learnt that there are some organisations that you join and at the end you get nothing out of them. But with FEDUP it is “work for work”. “

(Sylvia Mduli, Mpumalanga Youth Coordinator)

Regional chief addresses the group.

Regional chief addresses the group.

In a country that has an “urbanising and youthful population” the priority of building South Africa’s youth is evident (see the National Development Plan (NDP)). While the youth-oriented lens of the NDP focuses on improvements in critical educational, social and economic indicators, the building of self-reliant youth movements is essential, especially in urban and rural poor contexts. FEDUP coordinator, Rose Molokoane underscores the point:

“We need an organised youth that is able to create an agenda of change in their lives. Our children grew up seeing their mothers create impact and opportunities for the poor in their communities. We are pulling the youth next to us to learn from us. To draw in the youth is to create the next level of leadership. There are so many service delivery protests in South Africa and it is heartbreaking to see the youth leading them. We need to groom new youth leaders that want to learn about new avenues to negotiate with the state. Because of unemployment we advise them not to sit down and wait for the work to come to them.”

FEDUP’s Yona Yethu Youth Group Tackles Unemployment in Gauteng

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN No Comments

By Motebang Matsela (on behalf of CORC)

Yona Yethu is a group formed on 25 April 2013 by eight youth members of the Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP) who reside in Blue Gum View section of Gauteng’s Duduza informal settlement. With the aim of changing  their environment the group formed a non-profit organisation that goes under Yona Yethu, with a membership that has increased to 42 dedicated individuals.


Yona Yethu Background

The sprawl of unemployment within this community led the group to come together and address unemployment in an effort to alleviate poverty, drug and alcohol abuse. This motivated the group to make a difference within their neighbourhood, hoping to extend their initiative to the greater community, in time. While other youth point fingers at the government, blaming it for unemployment in townships, Yona Yethu thinks of different ways of tackling their social concerns.

Yona Yethu Projects

Cleaning of dumping site
The group started with cleaning and clearing an illegal dump site situated near their settlement. They first mobilised each other around environmental concerns and lack of recreational space. Secondly, they created an opportunity to generate income through recycling,  a car wash and waste & refuse management initiative which includes bin cleaning, arts & crafts and landscaping. Initially the funds generated were utilised to register this entity legally as a cooperative with the relevant department or institution. Presently the income is directed towards savings. The savings are timeously utilised for operations and purchasing of new materials where deemed fit.

Fighting illegal dumping brought about a concern for the environment and taking actin to ensure the safety of children who were often seen  playing in the rubble and refuse that posed health and safety hazards. The team embarked on cleaning those sites to create what they regarded as an informal community park. The social spaces that they managed to create through beautiful landscaping has been their response to the lack of recreational spaces in their township, for the youth and adults to enjoy equally.

Yona Yethu won the Botho ke Bokamoso Award (Humanity is the Future Award) for the best new project in 2014, hosted by the Ekurhuleni Metro Municipality. This award was accompanied by a prize of R50 000 shared amongst two groups. They have managed to build a working partnership with the Municipality which is committed to giving ongoing support through agricultural training programs. With this skills training the members are looking at developing food gardens to sell freshly harvested produce which will be used as a form of income generation and to tackle youth unemployment.

Added to this commitment, the waste and refuse management team receives training which supplies them with refuse bags and other materials to conduct their work. The municipality has also scheduled a new training for the youth which will focus on water and sanitation with the possibility that after completion of training the youth will get employment from the relevant department.

Duduza resident, Innocent Ndlela, said he is very proud of what the young people are doing for the community while also making ends meet at home. He encouraged them to continue doing a good job that benefits the community:

“I like that they are fighting against one of the biggest challenges in our township which is illegal dumping. Many residents, including children have been sick as a result of the filthiness in the dumping sites next to our homes. It is not always up to the government to create jobs but the youth needs to stand up and pave their way to success.”


The hard work conducted by the team has lured external stakeholders  like Valley Steel to support the team with protective gears such as gloves,boots and overalls that will be useful in the daily activities of the group.


Moreover, this team has been attracting the interest of other external stakeholders like Valley Steel which supports the team with protective gear like gloves, boots and overalls to conduct their daily activities. Interested parties like this were drawn in by the efforts put by Yona Yethu. It was evident that there are concerned citizens of South Africa   making it easier for support to come.

The recycling program includes the collection of recyclable materials which the group  sell to recyclers once a certain amount is reached. This is done through their waste & refuse management activities, where they identify any recyclables from households refuse bins before the Municipal waste removal teams collect the contents in the township on Tuesdays. As soon as the municipal collection is done, the group washes the bins and fits them with a new refuse bag as a service to those willing to pay for it. The charge for cleaning in R20 which rises to R30 with an addition of a refuse bag. The income generated is reinvested back into the business, some saved and some is used to pay wages to those conducting the work.


Art Work
Unemployment drove the youth to come together and share their skills and knowledge in order to create employment for themselves.  The members have different skills and interests, though all aimed at one goal.  This has allowed the group to be involved in different projects such as performances, making arts and crafts. Regular meetings to collect creative ideas and share thoughts and skills in the process are an important feature.  The money made is invested back into the business for equipment and materials, and the rest follows similar processes as mentioned above.

Their artistic ability is evident on a daily basis through art installations created with the ones partaking in the landscaping through artefacts like water fountains. Hlabane Mokoena, a member of the organisation, also pointed to the installation of a self-built water fountain at the park.

“With the different skills that each one of us has, we work together to provide the community with what is useful to them. We also make profit from self-made wire-cars. One of our challenges are residents who undermine us ” said Mokoena. Others give discouraging comments, doubting our ability”



Car wash
Not far from the park is  a car wash that the group has opened with the aim of generating income. This was one of the initial ideas the team identified as a income generation method, that is still operational till today. The car wash is actually one of the profitable undertakings by this team as it generates a large amount without a high initial capital cost. The car wash employed four of the Yona Yethu members who are committed daily to the operations and bookkeeping as needed. The team is then paid from the profits that it generates. One challenge experienced with this particular business is the competition the group faces as there are many carwashes operating in the surrounding area. This means that they have to work hard to uphold a good reputation and strengthen their marketing.




SDI, WIEGO & Avina: Growing a Global Coalition of the Urban Poor

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, SDI No Comments

By Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

Piesang River – the home of the South African Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP), a meeting place filled with sounds of Portuguese, isiZulu, Spanish and English,  a place filled with expectations of what a four-day learning exchange might hold for its participants – representatives of urban poor networks from across Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and South Africa. Are there joint mobilisation strategies? How does each movement build partnerships? And what does advocacy from the perspective of community leaders look like? These questions shaped the purpose of the four-day learning exchange from 21-24 September in South Africa’s east coast port city, Durban.


The participants included community leaders and supporting organisations from

  • the Brazilian Alliance of Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI)
  • the Ecuadorian Waste Picker Network
  • the Ecuadorian Network for Fair, Democratic & Sustainable Cities
  • the Association of Recyclers in Bogota, Colombia (Asociación de Recicladores de Bogota)
  • Fundacion Avina in Peru & Ecuador
  • Women In Informal Employment : Globalising & Organising (WIEGO)
  • Asiye eTafuleni in Durban (AeT, network of informal workers)
  • The South African SDI Alliance as hosts: Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP), Informal Settlement Network (ISN) and Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC)

What brought together representatives from such different locations? Their affiliation to SDI (Brazil & South Africa), WIEGO (Colombia & Asiye eTafuleni, South Africa) and Fundacion Avina (Ecuador). All three are global movements of the urban poor. Although their approaches may differ, SDI, WIEGO and Avina share the vision of building equitable, just and inclusive cities. The learning exchange was convened by Cities Alliance, of which WIEGO and SDI are both members. Envisioned as a two-part exchange, the first was hosted by SDI in South Africa, while the second will be hosted by WIEGO in Colombia.

The exchange focussed on exposing the visitors to the South African Alliance’s approaches to- and outcomes of community organising. This included a visit to housing and informal settlement upgrading projects, a savings scheme, conducting practical data collection, a partnership meeting with government and getting to know the context of informal workers.

A People’s Approach to Housing and Upgrading

Visiting a people driven housing project at Namibia

Visiting a people driven housing project at Namibia Stop 8 settlements

While each movement shared its main focal areas and organisational approaches in presentations on the first day, a real sense of getting to know each other occurred through questions and anecdotes that opened windows into personal and collective experiences:

“In Colombia waste-pickers have been organising for more than 30 years – recycling is an option for poor people who are old or don’t have access to jobs. I was displaced during the war. My husband was killed by guerrilla fighters. Through recycling I was able to support my family” (Ana Elizabeth Cuervo Alba, Colombia)

“As waste pickers in Ecuador we lobbied the government to a point where we now have a national agreement that pays waste pickers for recycling” (Elvia Pisuña, Ecuador)

“Urban informal workers usually face extreme challenges with people resisting their presence in public spaces .We called ourselves, Asiye eTafuleni because it means – come to the table. Let us negotiate for the inclusive future of the working urban poor. “ (Richard Dobson, Asiye eTafuleni, Durban)

Incidentally, Piesang River also displays the fruits of FEDUP’s militant negotiation with national government around housing delivery. FEDUP leaders explained that the vast housing settlements in Piesang River and Namibia Stop 8 (a further area visited that afternoon) are a result of their success in convincing government to grant members direct access to their housing subsidy. This enabled them to self-build larger houses, culminating in the adoption of the People’s Housing Process (PHP) policy. Although it has not been without its challenges, PHP represents a breakthrough in altered approach from “delivery” to “collaboration”.

Recycling Exchange

Informal Settlement Upgrading Plans at Mathambo














In contrast, community leaders of the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) elaborated on their difficulty in achieving breakthrough in municipal support for informal settlement upgrading. With over 2700 informal settlements in the country and an increasing housing backlog, the ISN supports communities with tools and plans for negotiating with local government around service delivery through incremental upgrading. During a visit to Mathambo settlement, community leader and regional ISN coordinator, Ndodeni Dengo explained that despite the settlement’s relatively small size, existing structures were located in high density to each other, with most not larger than 9m2 – and a deficit of water, sanitation and electricity services. The community had collected data about its settlement through a detailed household level enumeration that helped them negotiate upgrading plans with the local municipality. By using wooden boxes for planning a new layout that would enable service installation, the community established their ideal design for the upgraded settlement.

How do urban poor communities organise?

Over the next two days the visitors were introduced to the driving force behind FEDUP and ISN’s housing and upgrading projects: the practice of daily savings and data collection as tools for community organisation.

Explaining savings Kwa Bester

Explaining savings Kwa Bester

At Kwa Bestar savings group, the visitors saw that saving is not primarily about collecting money, but about collecting people. Savings groups are a space where trust is nurtured through daily saving, sharing needs and identifying common solutions. At present, the group of 39 active members has saved US$ 2800. It is also engaged in forming smaller saving units to access loans by generating income through small businesses. The keen involvement of young people aged 8 – 25 in the savings process was a special highlight. Once more it became evident that savings is about growing and enabling people, showcased by the rich dance, drama and music performances by the youth.

Youth savings group shares dance performance

Youth savings group shares dance performance

Where savings builds self reliance, data collection builds knowledge: upon arrival at Zikhali, a small, rural settlement in the northern sugar cane fields of Durban, Rose Molokoane, National Coordinator of FEDUP and SDI deputy president, explained:

“When a community knows clearly who they are, which are their problems, it is much easier to negotiate with municipal officials”

This is how data collection through settlement profiles (of a settlement’s history, infrastructure, conditions) and enumerations (detailed household level surveys) enables partnership with local government officials. When walking around the area, the group mapped the settlement boundaries and landmarks such as water and sanitation points on GPS devices while others spoke to residents, collecting household data by using the Alliance’s enumeration form.

GIS mapping in Zikhali settlement

GIS mapping in Zikhali settlement


Household Enumeration in Zikhali

Household Enumeration in Zikhali

Approaches to building partnerships with government

It is through savings and data-collection that SDI’s urban poor federations leverage partnerships: saving contributions show self-reliance and community will; settlement-wide data powers a community’s negotiation capacity. On day three the visitors accompanied the Durban Alliance to a meeting with the local municipality, province and a representative from national government, discussing the progress of housing and upgrading projects.

The South Americans perceived

  • A strong relationship with government officials
  • A measure of trust and flexibility in receiving visitors at the meeting
  • Political willingness to listen and debate

Insights from the South African participants

  • The perceived trust and partnership with Municipal Government was “built by doing”, demonstrating results and inviting the municipality to be part of the social process
  • Despite the working group and formally conducted meetings, the municipality often does not give prompt answers to the most urgent needs of communities

The visit to Asiye eTafuleni (AeT) added rich insight to the experience of informal workers and an added dimension to partnership building with local authorities. The group was introduced to AeT’s work in developing inclusive spaces that support sustainable livelihoods for informal workers. The shared realities of informal settlement dwellers and informal workers became particularly evident on a walk-about through the bustling Warwick market in Durban’s inner-city. For AeT and the SA SDI Alliance the encounter highlighted similarities and differences in approach but most of all established a platform for increased collaboration in the future.

Government Partnership Meeting

Government Partnership Meeting

View on to a section of Warwick market

View on to a section of Warwick market


Walkabout in Warwick Junction

Walkabout in Warwick Junction
















Reflecting, Learning and Joint Advocacy

With a rich collection of experiences and impressions, the group gathered on the last morning to reflect and share on the ….

  • Non-monetary value of savings. Savings are about collecting money and people (building social capital, trust, self-reliance)
  • Power of information: data collection is crucial for building self-reliance, identifying common goals and establishing negotiating power
  • Key role of women as cultivating transparency and accountability
  • Cultural factors present in South Africa: welcoming, joyful people, ability to join efforts and to coordinate
  • Youth work: value of young people generating and managing their own savings to use in initiatives of their choice (e.g. creative arts)
  • Global similarities in poor people’s struggles
  • Recycling as Income Generation: value in using opportunities around you (e.g. waste = recycling opportunity = income generation)
  • Increased awareness of interface between shack dwellers and informal workers

… and on strategies for the road ahead:

  • Mobilisation Strategies: Gain understanding of waste picker movements in South America
  • Building Partnerships: Plan further exchanges with local (i.e. national) counterparts of global movements
  • Prepare for Joint Lobbying at Global Events such as Habitat III.

As the global development community gears up for Habitat III, global movements of the urban poor are establishing a firm coalition. This learning exchange forms an integral part of that process, “allowing networks organised around livelihood and habitat to come together, share their experiences and strengthen their capacity to organise and advocate in favour of the urban poor” (Cities Alliance, Exchange convener). When speaking with a united voice, advocacy has the potential to influence policy discussions on increased collaboration between communities and governments.

“By referring to our connection with one another, WIEGO, SDI & Avina can make a strong case for a pro-poor agenda. Only if we come together as poor people we can show our governments that we are influencing their policies to meet the needs of the people. “ (Rose Molokoane, FEDUP Coordinator & SDI vice president)

Cape Town and Kampala Youth set up SDI’s Know Your City TV

By CORC, FEDUP, ISN, SDI, Youth No Comments

By Andiswa Meke and Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)

Meet eight young storytellers, driven by their love for the arts and commitment to change in their communities. From 31 August – 5 September 2015 eight youth members of the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda (NSDFU) and the South African Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP) came together in Cape Town to be trained in community-based videography and filmmaking. The youth members from Kampala’s NSDFU and Cape Town’s FEDUP are both affiliates of the Shack / Slum Dwellers International (SDI) network.


Preparing equipment for filming in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.

Preparing equipment for filming in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.

The Know Your City Platform

The training formed part of SDI’s Know Your City (KYC) campaign on bottom-up and community generated data collection. As a global campaign, KYC seeks to collect and consolidate city-wide data in informal settlements as the basis for inclusive development between the urban poor and local governments. It draws its strength from data collected at the settlement level that is aggregated on a city-wide scale and used to make compelling arguments for more inclusive service delivery and informal settlement upgrading. Read more here.

Know Your City TV (KYC TV), on the other hand, seeks to ground this data in personal and everyday experiences, recorded by young people who live in informal settlements, with a sharp and localized understanding of their surroundings and communities, with a ‘direct’ link to the stories themselves. It is evident that data on informal settlements only becomes alive when voices, images and personal histories accompany it. The youth teams selected for the KYC TV training in Cape Town were drawn from two of SDI ‘s four learning centers: Cape Town and Kampala. KYC TV also grew from a previous Cape Town based youth exchange between SDI youth representatives from Uganda, Kenya, India and South Africa in February 2015. During this time youth members were exposed to community-generated video making, alongside James Tayler, filmmaker of the Bodaboda Thieves who facilitated the training during the recent KYC TV workshop week.

Group picture after filming in Cape Town's Company Gardens.

Group picture after filming in Cape Town’s Company Gardens.

A Glimpse Into a Videographer’s Training

On the first day of training, the group was tasked to find ideas that they could use for making a possible film – the first threads of weaving a story. Zandile Nomnga, from South Africa’a FEDUP, shared an idea of documenting her youth group’s use of art, drama and dance to build up young people in her informal settlement in Khayelitsha. When the rest of the group had pitched their ideas, some practical camera introduction began. For some it was a first-time engagement with hands-on camera experience. Day two was a fascinating excursion into all things technical: how a digital camera works, shot types and ratios, lighting tips, how to conduct interviews…. with the KYCTV ‘Pocket Film School’ booklet a constant reference point. A nearby park in Cape Town allowed for some first experimental footage.

With a wealth of background knowledge, the next two days were ones of exploring Cape Town, in its vastly different areas, looking to capture variety and the city’s characteristically stark social and political contrasts. The first was spent in Cape Town’s City Centre: arriving at the central station, the group made its way through a number of central locations in Cape Town – always with a keen focus on light, texture, shapes and colour, a practice in finding snippets and scenes that would make good film footage. They carefully chose the Golden Acre and Green Market Square, having encountered a group of street performers playing soulful music. The group took turns filming the performance, with James instructing and coaching them about what angles are suitable and how to capture imagery of moving people.

Filming street musicians in Cape Town's Green Market Square

Filming street musicians in Cape Town’s Green Market Square

In the early hours of Thursday morning the group gathered its equipment and headed to Makhaza, located in Khayelitsha, on the outskirts of Cape Town’s inner city and suburbs, and, home to the South African youth members. Most of the morning was spent filming and interviewing the residents and business people (hair salon owners and minibus taxi drivers) about their daily activities within the area. In the afternoon the group moved to Site C, in Khayelitsha, documenting a crèche in the area, interviewing the owner about challenges and progress. The day ended at Future Champs, a youth boxing and life skills centre – in Philippi East. The afternoon was filled with fun filming the boxing coach and interviews with the younger children to get a sense of why they chose boxing as a sport preference.

Visiting a hair salon

Visiting a hair salon

Interviewing a minibus taxi driver

Interviewing a minibus taxi driver




While the group had been focused on filming and gathering footage for the previous part of the week, little did it occur to them that their work was far from over. Friday therefore started off with uploading all video footage onto the computer systems and reviewing it. An in-depth introduction to software and editing programs followed, with detailed explanations on how to edit, crop, animate and create audio on the software to familiarise themselves with the program and produce edited videos.

Filming at Future Champs

Filming at Future Champs


Learning how to edit






Looking Back and Looking Forward

The group spent the last day enjoying a burst of pre-summer heat at Cape Town’s sea-side – a time of reflection and realizing that their journey had only just begun. For Allan Mawejju from Uganda the trip to Khayelitsha was a highlight, especially learning how to deal with people during interviews. The highlight for Zandile Nomnga, who loves music and dance, was the opportunity to chance upon and film a soul music group at the busy Green Market Square.

“With the knowledge we gained we will show our members back home how to document their daily activities and who knows this could also be a form of job creation where they would film what is going on in our countries and sell to a news network”.

Mamfuka Joweria Kaluxigi, National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda


It was clear that the group was leaving with an array of skills that will assist them in forming KYC TV teams together with the continued support from James and SDI, through the Ugandan and South African support organisations, ACTogether and CORC. Many expressed the desire to share their learning with friends and fellow youth members who did not have the opportunity to attend. Some want to produce mini documentaries about their informal settlement and the activities that the youth do. The following weeks will be dedicated to consolidating the skills learnt during the training and produce the first mini documentaries.

“We didn’t know how to make films but today we are able to shoot, edit our own videos and tell our stories, I thank God for the opportunity and Know Your City TV for the platform”

Muwanguzi Solomon, National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda