News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Saturday February 16th 2019

Khayelitsha school opens animation as a career path for township students

Sandiso Phaliso

When he was still in primary school, Melumzi Nkomo would spend hours on end drawing cartoons just like they were on the TV programmes he loved to watch.

He would also sketch the faces of is friends and family and he brightened up his school books with his drawings – all the time dreaming of one day becoming an animator and seeing his own cartoons on TV.

And now, at the age of 23, Melumzi is one step closer to achieving his dream after he became one of 120 young people accepted into South Africa’s first public animation programme.

Site B, in Khayelitsha, where he grew up, has large numbers of school dropouts, a direct result of the area’s endemic gang violence and alcohol and drugs abuse, and a day seldom passes without someone being violently assaulted or murdered in the area.

So getting involved in the programme has been a life changing experience for Melumzi, who said it is proof that, with self belief and passion, “nothing is impossible in life”.

“Drawing is one the best things I can do in my life and being part of the programme is a dream come true for me,” Melumzi said.

Like Melumzi – whose mother is the family’s sole breadwinner – some of his classmates’ families also face a daily struggle to put food on the table, and the high cost of animation training would normally be way beyond their means.

But the training is also aimed at giving youngsters who would otherwise not be able to break into the animation industry, a chance, and he is one of 100 students out of 120 who have received bursaries.

And, because it is assumed that many of the students will be using a computer for the first time, the first two weeks of the course is an introduction to computers in order to teach them the basics of computing that privileged youths take for granted.

The 2D Animation programme, based at the Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain campuses of False Bay College, is an initiative of the provincial government of the Western Cape and the Services Seta. The Western Cape’s Cape Film Commission has contributed to capacity development, while the Seta has chipped in to fund bursaries of R25 000 for each qualifying student to cover tuition costs.

“When the programme ends we will send them (the students) to studios where they will showcase what they learnt in class,” said Priscilla Davids, spokesperson for the Service Seta. “We want these young people to retain the skills they receive in class by placing them in studios.”

The first phase of the programme, which began in July last year, ended in February with 50 up and coming animators having received creative and technical training. Successful graduates were absorbed into the current programme.

This initial phase was aimed at introducing students to the fundamental of basic 2D animation studies, including basic computer studies, using Photoshop, drawing orientation and basic life and digital drawing, according to project manager Gary Kachelhoffer.

Among these students was Anele Siwa, 21, from Mitchell’s Plain, who passed matric last year. The fact that he was a winner in the “So You Think You Can Draw” competition organised by the Cape Film Commission, played a major role in his being accepted into the programme.

Nomalizo Bembe, 26, said she was overwhelmed at the opportunity she has been given.

“Because the course is unique in South Africa, and most black people think animation is for whites, I want to do my best and help change that myth,” she said.

Nomalizo lives in Khayelitsha’s Ilitha Park with her parents and two of her brothers. Her father works for a small construction company and her brothers survive by doing odd jobs.

Although the City of Cape Town is in the process of building a Hollywood-style studio complex, Kachelhoffer said South Africa had a severe shortage of animators and the programme is aimed at addressing this.

“Animation in South Africa is getting bigger and better and part of the programme is an internship with animation studios in the province.

Cape Film Commission (CFC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Laurence Mitchell said in a statement that the film industry has committed itself to create a strong animation and new media industry. The industry had pledged their support to help facilitate the creation of 10 000 jobs by 2030 within the Animation Industry on the Cape Flats.

“I am convinced that through this training we will be able to fill a significant skills gap within the animation and new media industries,” he said.

Tags: Animation, Cape Film Commission, False Bay College, Khayelitsha

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2 Responses to “Khayelitsha school opens animation as a career path for township students”

  1. Nozangoku Komani says:

    Please send me application for next year studies in Public Administration Course or IT Technician

  2. Ongaziwayo says:

    Its a shame for us black labelled people that even opportunities that should give us future are manipulated by whites and served to us as BEE “Black Everlasting Evasion”.

    I was mean’t to lecture those animation courses since an am only one qualified 2d animator from Khayelitsha, but my greedy x lecture “Garry” and greedy x Boss “Sean” fixed them papers at Cape Film Commission and decided to choose someone who is my x lecture [a better affording White person instead] making him to occupy two jobs while I was jobless.

    Question is: Where are those who attended those stupid classes?
    Answer: Don’t exist.

    Did they really learn anything?
    Only God knows.

    Can they really make animation that can bring food on table?

    Hahahaaaa Cape Film Commission.
    Garry doesn’t know 2d digital animation…he only knows clay-mation, incase you didn’t know.


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