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2019-03-12 06:00
Masi residents tell their hopes and dreams.

Masi residents tell their hopes and dreams.

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Maisphumelele residents share their fears, hardships, hopes, and dreams through Let’s Succeed, a film by Street Talk.

The film was launched at the Masiphumelele Community Hall last Saturday 2 March and its name is derived from the meaning of the word Masiphumelele.

The film provides a platform for the community to share their stories and it shows the gritty reality of living in Masi. It also highlights the journey that some determined residents had embarked on to help themselves.

It captures the arrival of the first Eastern Cape families at Site 5, in the 1980s. The area was later renamed Masiphumelele (Let’s Succeed). They faced torrid time as they were continuously removed to Khayelitsha by the apartheid government.

A generation later, an estimated 40 000 people now call the 1km² wetland their home.

The short film is the reality of living in Masi, where residents feel the government has abandoned them and have lost hope for a better future. With high unemployment and few job opportunities, drug and alcohol abuse proliferates, and residents tell of the ever-present threat of shack fires, xenophobia, rising crime and inadequate policing.

But the film also highlights residents who are inspiring change against the odds, launching neighborhood watch patrols, while entrepreneurs have turned their love of music, sewing and cooking into small businesses, providing employment and generating income.

Jo Mennel, co-founder of Street Talk, says for years he has been in and out of Masiphumelele.

Street Talk is a registered non-profit organisation with the provincial Department of Social Services and as a Public Benefit Organisation with the South African Revenue Services.

Mennel remembers how about five years ago the country was going through tense xenophobic attacks but for Masi, despite a number of foreigners living there, no xenophobia in the area was reported.

“The country was going through a lot but in Masi it was different. It was quiet and that sparked my curiosity,” he says.

Mennel says they had an opportunity to do a street talk in Masi and again he picked up a different vibe though he couldn’t pinpoint what exactly it was.

“Masi is different from Mfuleni, Khayelitsha, Delft or any other areas. Responses for the street talk just gave me a good feeling about Masi,” he says.

He says that a guy that does social programmes in the area funded them to do the film and they did it in Masi.

That funding got the ball rolling and a platform for the people in that area to tell their stories. “With Masi being so isolated and surrounded by wealthy suburbs they are easily forgotten. We could easily do a film of no housing, no police station, epidemic drug use. It could have been anything as they are faced with a lot of challenges, but we thought we should let people tell their own stories. Their dreams, fears, and hopes. We wanted to listen to their stories and what makes them tick and what makes them different,” he says.

Masi resident Andile Oscar Thetha, who is in the film, says his hope and dream is that his community succeed as the name suggests.

Thetha says there are a lot of issues in the area, but their biggest goals are to ensure that Masi people succeed.

“We are a united and close-knit community. We do have crime but what sets us apart from the rest of the communities is that when crime happens, residents pull together and find the wrongdoer.

“We have a lot of foreigners here but you will never tell because we treat them like one of our own. We don’t discriminate because they are foreigners. The love for each other and people always willing to help is one thing that really makes us different,” he says.

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