Situated in the middle of the sprawling “bairro” of Chamanculo, just outside Mozambique’s capital Maputo with widespread poverty, gender inequality, high crime and violence, and alcohol abuse. Casa Siqauge Arts Centre was founded by a Joburg and Mozambique based Jazz musician Daniel Walter, who is also the band leader of Sigauque project based in Mozambique. The centre acts as a platform for arts, culture, and music in Chamanculo, with about 40 aspiring young music students. This space inspires enthusiastic young people of the area, who are eager for opportunities. Over the past 3 years the center has been in existence it has been built on what has been happening in and with the community for almost a decade, and is currently the venue for a free music school, cultural events, and other activities for youth, as well as future planned sporting events. The project is spearheaded by Sigauque project, which is about raising issues and trying to bring about change. The group’s musical influences include Senegalese mbalak, Nigerian afro-beat and Mozambican marrabenta. Johannesburg based, project director Deborah Walter had this to say about the project.
The centre provides young people with an opportunity to learn and grow their musical talents. “We hope that some of them will pursue this as careers, but most importantly the music gives this youth a chance to express themselves and develop talents,” she said.
“The initial classes are focusing on musical theory, the students learn to read music, the foundation of a lifelong joy of music, and perhaps even one day a way to make a living,” she adds.
PiC: Courtesy of CMFD
According to Walter, the center ensures that the project is the youth’s focal area, which the twice weekly lessons they provide attract youth from the community, and provide them with lessons that they would otherwise not be able to afford. “The creative arts is not just music in itself, it is about learning, developing a skill, perseverance, learning to collaborate with others, and gaining self-confidence, “ said Walter.
The centre also hosts various cultural events, including several in collaboration with the United States Embassy, “The cultural events that are put on at the centre provide a space for people to enjoy performances and be exposed to artists, It also uplifts people and bring them together as a community” explains Walter
Shows that the centre has hosted include a jam with Steward Sukuma, the Free Desmyter Quartet, Nova Mundo Trio from the UK, and many others. The events and people that they host also include a theatre group, a movie night, and Wax Collective a Hip Hop group from the US that also played at Bushfire.
The centre has also hosted a classical trio, a US navy band, and a percussion group. Embassies or festivals host their events at the centre as part of their outreach work. As part of the centres way to test the level of knowledge the students have acquired, the centre hosts a monthly show held with the Sigauque Project band, which attracts both youth and Maputo’s expat community.
To intensify the mind set of everyday healthy living in a community riddled with widespread poverty, gender inequality, high crime and violence, and alcohol abuse, the centre has embarked in a mission to change that mind set by including a programme were they will be creating a basketball court and programme. , “the goal is to promote healthy living and fitness, and replicates a previous event the centre hosted in Johannesburg in 2013”she said.
By Akhona Zibonti