Council keeps arts and crafts alive

MDANTSANE-born musician Mzuvukile Sokatsi started out playing on a tin guitar as a young boy and, despite not having the proper equipment, never gave up on his dream.

Sokatsi, who is popularly known as Ali, went on to play for various bands and has dedicated his life to teaching young musicians.

Recently, he was one of several musicians and crafters who received a much- needed boost from the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council (ECPACC).

The council awarded musical instruments, compact discs, craft material and sewing machines to individual artists and organisations which had successfully applied for funding.

A total of 25 music projects and 17 craft projects benefited. The council renders support and funding to disadvantaged artists and crafters in the province. Since its formation in 1995, ECPACC has disbursed nearly R42-million for needy emerging public projects and bursary awards.

Speaking after the hand-over at the Gompo community hall in East London, Sokatsi said it was only in the late 1970s that his brother gave him a guitar.

“For many years, I struggled to get a guitar but that never discouraged me from playing for various bands,” he said.

His music career started when he joined the Giyani brothers from Klerksdorp and since then he has played with many other bands.

“I was part of many bands from the Ivuka Jazz Band and Safika Jazz Band until I formed my own band, Savana Band, which had a variety of artists.”

Sokatsi said some of the bands he joined already had their own equipment and he would use their guitars.

“Some managers were even kind enough to allow the artist to take the instrument home to practise,” he said.

In 1994, his band started performing at the then Mdantsane Sun hotel from Thursday to Sunday. “We had so much fun as a band for six years and then the place was closed.”

Sokatsi’s love for music saw him teaching young people how to play the guitar. “Although I did not own a decent guitar, I made sure my students got the opportunity to learn,” he said.

Although Sokatsi still does not have a large number of instruments, he uses a classical guitar to teach young people at the Mdantsane Arts Centre.

“I have [taught] artists who have already recorded albums and I am teaching more.”

Sokatsi received an amplifier and a guitar from ECPACC. “I am grateful to ECPACC for all their work. All I need right now is a recording opportunity,” he said.

Those wanting to apply for ECPACC funding can visit www.ecpacc.co.za. – Poliswa Plaatjie

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