South Africa continues to face major economic challenges despite its defeat of apartheid 22 years ago. With the continuous depreciation of the rand and poor performance from the manufacturing sector, youth unemployment continues to be one of the nation’s greatest problems. Earlier this year, African economist John Ashbourne predicted that South Africa’s credit rating will be downgraded to junk with unemployment there likely to remain the highest in the world. In spite of such doom and gloom prophecies, social entrepreneurs at the Indigenous Dance Academy (IDA) have found an innovative way to keep youths off drugs and away from violence using the medium of cultural dance.
Established in 2005, the IDA teaches young dancers time management, home-making, and discipline alongside their Sbhujwa-based dance moves. As a social intervention, it has influenced unemployed graduates in the large township of Tembisa, which is situated about an hour northwest of Johannesburg.
“The youth in Tembisa are facing a battery of social ills, like drugs and alcohol abuse, peer pressure and petty crime, teenage pregnancy,” states a program description page on Red Bull’s Amaphiko project website. “There’s lack of art centres and extra mural activities at schools which leaves the young loitering; this almost makes the streets seem treacherous.”
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IDA is headed by young minds who aim to use social connectivity as a tool to rescue unemployed youths from the snares of poverty, cultural bias, and discrimination. “School standards are low, and opportunities for young people are few,” Academy co-founder Jarrel Mathebula reveals. “I provide kids and young adults a chance to earn money doing what they love. By teaching my dancers the value of discipline and hard work, I try to help them gain the skills they need to succeed in life,” he adds.
Watch the featured video above to witness the Academy’s young participants showing off their dance moves.