Local musicians, community, church, and school leaders united with ‘Join Bands Not Gangs’ recently to hand over R60 000 worth of music instruments to youth of Scottsdene, a gang-infested suburb of northern Cape Town, notoriously dubbed the ‘Kill Me Quick’ zone.

R30 000 of the instruments were donated by an anonymous donor via W. Heuer, one of South Africa’s leading music stores with over 60 years’ history of supplying and restoring musical equipment in Africa. Another R30 000 worth of instruments were donated by members of the public in response to JBNG’ mission of putting 1 million instruments into the hands of 1 million South African youth.

The event was marked with speeches by incoming Mayor of Cape Town, Mr. Dan Plato, the Scottsdene Action Group’s chair, Mr. Les, Principal of Scottsdene High School Mr. Peter Links and join Bands, Not Gangs’ Karien de Waal and Mario Rousseau. A band consisting of Cape Town musicians, including Allou April, Shana Ray, Winston Siljeur, Keanu Harker, Jason Skippers and Karien de Waal, lead the youth in morning worship and an impromptu performance by Grade 12 learner, Winston Abrahams on acoustic guitar, turned the event into a roaring hit with the school kids.

#JBNG Founder Karien de Waal, together with Co-director Mario Rousseau are committed to tackling one community, one day, one band at a time. Mario grew up in Bonteheuwel, another gang-infested area and after 13 years in prison, turned his life around. These days he shares his experiences to inspire others to make better life choices. Mario relayed among other things how he finished High School while in prison and went on to study more diplomas in jail including in Theology and Business.

Scottsdene forms part of Kraaifontein, rated 7th in the SAPS’ list of areas with the highest murder rates in South Africa for 2017/2018. In a bid to curb the rise in gangsterism, the Scottsdene Action Group (SAG) was recently formed.

Says Mr Peter Links, Principal of Scottsdene High School and part of SAG leadership team, “#JBNG is a way to channelise the creative energy of our youth towards positive productivity. This is especially important for them in the current context of the decriminalisation of Cannabis, alongside rises in human trafficking, drug use, gun-trading and prison numbers”.

Minister Dan Plato, Western Cape MEC for Safety and Security (and incoming Mayor of Cape Town) shared his appreciation for the initiative of #JBNG to inspire youth of the notoriously dangerous Kraaifontein neighbourhood and said, “Government would be wise to support it”. 

He was also moved by the testimony of Mario Rousseau, saying, “this is a man who was not expected to succeed in life and it is inspiring how he chose to turn his life around”. He also welcomed the media coverage of these kinds of stories saying, “there are good things happening on the Cape Flats that the public should know of”.

Says Karien, “We hope to start music programs in schools all over the Cape Flats and beyond. Our hope is to start programs in a number of schools in the same neighbourhood – starting with Kraaifontein.

“Long term, we intend having Battle of the Bands-type competitions between #JBNG schools to make musicians the new heroes and role models of kids in the community.

“In the near-term, our focus is to attract musical instruments from the public and corporate sponsors. therefore, we are appealing to anyone with a music instrument not in use to donate it to us. Corporate businesses in the creative sector could come on board to sponsor educational training materials and music teacher salaries. We are open to exploring ideas so please feel free to get in touch! Karien is reachable via email joinbandsnotgangs@gmail.com or via the website www.joinbandsnotgangs.com

Karien considers herself fortunate for having attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA where she graduated with a Dual Degree. Since returning to South Africa in 2012, she established her own live music company, Wedding Song, and has worked on numerous events and concerts, including with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra and Youth Orchestra, is sponsored by Fender Guitars as a bassplayer, scores music for film and adverts and has launched 2 Gospel albums.

In July 2018, she launched ‘Madiba-Wethu’ a song to commemorate Madiba’s 100th Birthday. Musicians that perform on the track include the Cape Town Youth Orchestra, Loyiso Bala, Elwira Standili, The Berklee Indian Ensemble and The Sekunjalo Delft Big Band. This song also served as a catalyst to launch JBNG. Since then, Karien has been inundated with requests from disadvantaged communities across the country for music instruments. Scottsdene is the first of many communities to benefit from the work of JBNG as it grows. 

At the Scottsdene launch, #JBNG was also supported by the #Pray4SA movement, founded by Karien’s Pastor, Prophet Benjamin Arde of ARC Ministries International. The following day, Wednesday, 10 October 2018, #Pray4SA held a special prayer and fast day (skipping 1 meal) to encourage citizens to stand united against Gang Violence. For more information see www.pray4sa.com

Like #JBNG, Pray4SA also works strategically behind the scenes. In Scottsdene, #JBNG will also roll out a Personal Empowerment course “Blueprint” alongside the music program at Scottsdene High. The course will also be offered to members of the local gangs.

The SAG is also working with SAPS. A Police “Basecamp” tent has been set up in the vortex of Scottsdene and 20 police surveillance cameras are being installed to step up the monitoring of strategic zones. This will give parents some peace of mind about the safety and security of their children, especially when out of residence for extended periods.

Musikhaus W. Heuer, Stellenbosch was also present to mark the occasion and expressed its appreciation for the work of #JBNG on behalf of the anonymous donor of R30k worth of instruments to help its mission of putting 1 million instruments into the hands of 1 million youth to revive the timeless joy and fun experience of making music. “It’s a challenge and an honour to change lives for the better, we wish #JBNG well and will be assisting them in every way possible,” said Heuer’s spokesperson, Mr. Hans Heuer.

#JoinBandsNotGangs is a Creative, Apolitical Initiative which is registered as an NPC | Non Profit Company in South Africa. Karien concluded, “We need all leadership hands on deck, especially media to help #JBNG write a new story for the future of our youth.”

Ms Karien de Waal
Founder & Creative Director | #JBNG
+27 71 174 2373

By Ms Merle O’Brien
Futurist | Creation iLab
+27 76 891 2583

For further information, interviews and images
Ms Tertia Rousseau
PR & Media Administration | #JBNG
+27 78 273 9458

Date published: 21/10/2018
Written by: Join Bands Not Gangs
Article Source: Supplied


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