Projekt Ubuntu ( or Pro – Jekt your “humanity” ) was started after the xenophobia in 2007, where we realised that we needed to keep a space alive in South Africa, to heal the injustices of the past and to continue to bring people together, to build the South Africa that Mandela dreamt of.
Our logo. Photographed by John Quigley at Afrika Burns
Sidney; an artist with a huge social conscience – was in his studio in Woodstock. He had an image of Mandela that he sketched
– and for him at the time; it was the only thing he had to get him through. Sidney was orphaned at a young age; and had no family.
As a young person; Mandela had been the kind of role model and icon; that got him through some dark days. The image was inspired by a photo which appeared in our local newspaper; during Mandela’s inaugural speech; Sidney himself was present when Mandela gave his inaugural speech. A moment which signified South Africa’s triumph over darkness; and our journey towards freedom.
Sidney’s image of Mandela; spoke volumes. Mandela at the time was a positive role model for young people all over South Africa. He represented hope. And he projected the essence of what it is to be human – kindness; compassion; forgiveness; strength etc.
In March 2012, with Candi, Sidney took his image to a videographer, starring on a documentary about an art installation at Afrika Burns. South Africa's equivalent of the U.S's Burning Man. The installation, a recreation of the image that Sidney had drawn, a tribute to Nelson Mandela and the spirit of 'Ubuntu'. The image was drawn by Sidney Ryan and is an image of the face of Mandela. the installation is co-ordinated by the 'Ariel artist' John Quigley from the United States.
That photograph capturing 1480 people sat back to back in a continuous unbroken line is an image of togetherness, and proving when humanity comes together we can do, and create amazing things. And it is this image that is our logo today.
Candi taught a development program for 10 years; teaching peace building techniques in the townships of South Africa; this had her working with Government and running national programmes; whilst at the same time; running an events company; which managed the HIV/ AIDS awareness campaign for the South African government in South Africa.
Beginning her life’s work after the death of her friends. Her and her friends were on the way to a wedding. And her friends were hit by a car. A deeply traumatic event and a turning point, which led to a whole lot of soul searching. "When you see that life is temporary; and that we can go at any moment; it brings of questions ; "who am I and what is my purpose in life”. This started a whole ‘spiritual journey” – which had her travelling between India and Africa; and through breathing and meditation – she was able to turn around a traumatic experience and direct her energies towards helping others.
Candi & Sidney met in 2008 and they had a shared passion for people; both socially driven; with similar vision. Both wanting to make a difference in their Country; and play a role in contributing to their new found freedom and democracy. After teaching in the townships for 10 years; Candi had been taught something she believed to be so beautiful; and that was the gift of Ubuntu “ humanity”. With a growing understanding of Ubuntu; Candi was looking for a way to share this important message with the world; at a time when we were starting to experience a shift towards the material world; the importance of developing our human values; seemed ever more important.
Nyameka started working with each edu-care that made itself known, one by one in Masiphumele and started introducing volunteers to the programs gradually. In 2014 a space which originally provided as room for volunteers to have lunch brought much curiosity and interest from the elder kids in the communities towards who they and what we were doing here. "The kids asked to play with the volunteers and teach the volunteers how to play games and showed off their special talents with performances on the drums and after conversation with Candi we introduced our afternoon project: Pro-jekt Ubuntu".
Project Ubuntu still today is our centre for the kids to come and learn and have fun from the hours that school finishes until four. Allowing and inviting a small collection of kids to the centre, Nyameka got to know the children's overtime; learning their home situations and gradually becoming engaged with trying to support the kids in whatever ways she could. "Realising things like that the kids were struggling with english we asked kids bring along with them" and further to that in time the project was developed into a system of teaching the kids new things each week by introducing activities.
Nyameka today has the role of taking care of our volunteers, to hone their skills sets, potential and imagination to create impact down at the projects. Alongside Candi, Nymeka is a support and guidance on how to understand life within the township who comforts and evaluates us as volunteers and interns with any difficulties we may have even if that’s with life in or out of the projects.
Introductions to our volunteers on their first day of orientation in the township take place with greeting Mama Phat. Phatiswa communicates and has responsibility of overseeing all the projects in Masiphumelele as she leads as the Project coordinator on site.
Phatiswa is strongly connected to the community and is very aware of the township of Masiphumele. Phatiswa is continuing improvements with the support from volunteers and their donations to make renovations as-well as building greater structure where she is able to with the edu-cares.
Now leading and representing as the Mama for the Ubuntu project; Phatiswa cooks hot meals that the kids love, and resources food through the week to feed the kids of Ubuntu. Phatiswa encourages new volunteers to stand and introduce themselves to the kids; what they do back home, teaching the kids where they are from and what talents they have and what knowledge they can share with the kids. Providing support and guidance to volunteers and helping those to understand things that are unfamiliar to themselves here in difference to back home.