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Wheelchair using choreographer rocks youth event

2 December 2019

Ncedo Bhongoza directing on stage

By Benedict Leteane

A 28-year-old wheelchair choreographer received a well-deserved standing ovation for an outstanding stage choreography at the 2019 Siyaphakama Youth Day celebration on June 15, at the Khayelitsha community hall in Cape Town.

Choreographer Ncedo Bhongoza directed 15 young non-disabled persons between the ages of 12 and 18 on three acts: The Xhosa traditional dance; modern contemporary dance; and a poignant dramatisation of the 1976 Soweto youth uprising in IsiXhosa.

“He is an inspiration to the youth and people living with disabilities. He shows us that disability does not stop you from living your dream, which is what Siyaphakama is all about,” said Noluthando Makalima, vice-chairperson of Siyaphakama.

Bhongoza lost his physical mobility in 2016 due to a tragic hijack shooting in Phillipi township which left him paralysed.

However, this horrendous incident did not deter him from organising a community youth group. In 2017 he revived the Phakamani youth group in Khayelitsha, which created a safe environment for young persons between the ages of 10 and 17 to do activities such as drama, poetry, dance and music. All of these are directed by Bhongoza.

“Yes, I watch them and tell them where they are wrong. Sometimes I try to show them what to do, or ask my friend Buhle (Manda, his friend and assistant) to demonstrate,” said Bhongoza.

Members of the group describe him as a dedicated and fun teacher.

“He does not shout at us when we make mistakes. He calls you and tells you where you were wrong,” said Banele Lema, a 13-year-old girl.

Although he faces lots of challenges as a new person with disability such as accessing buildings in the community and public transport, Bhongoza says he is pleased with the support from the community.

“I am happy to work with young people. Some are naughty but they listen when I talk to them,” Bhongoza added.