Kenneth Gardens is located in Umbilo, Durban, and forms part of an extensive network of cluster housing schemes developed by the apartheid government, as part of government’s protectionist strategy to provide safe and affordable housing to poor and working class whites. There are an estimated 282 units in Kenneth Gardens spread over 28 blocks. An estimated 1500 – 1800 people are accommodated in this fairly high density housing estate. There are a handful of white residents who live in Kenneth Gardens and have been in the corporate housing system for two or more generations. They have been and continue to be utterly dependent on the state. Black ‘newcomers’ are currently the largest constituency within Kenneth Gardens. This has dramatically changed the landscape of these once-protected white zones. What brings people together in this space is shared socio-economic circumstances. Preliminary research conducted by a group of researchers from UKZN indicates that there are a wide range of social problems within the estate, including fairly high level of unemployment; drug and alcohol addiction; family violence; isolated and neglected elderly residents; apathetic children and young adults with low self-esteem and limited aspirations; a range of safety threats; HIV and other chronic illnesses; and some incidences of racial and cultural intolerance.
Children and youth under the age of 35 made up 64.3% of the residents surveyed in the UKZN Kenneth Gardens demographic survey conducted in 2010. In the late afternoons and on weekends the grounds of Kenneth Gardens are filled with children playing with each other. This play is generally unsupervised and there is a visible lack of facilities available for these young people to use for sport and recreation. Aside from the lack of adult supervision and facilities, there are a number of social problems within the estate which young people and children are exposed to on a regular basis. In particular, the public abuse of drugs and alcohol is worrisome. Young children are constantly exposed to a range of forms of socially objectionable behaviour. Parents and guardians in the estate are very concerned about this situation.
Despite the high concentration of people living in Kenneth Gardens, particular young people, there has been no investment from state or non-state agencies in the wellbeing of young people and children. Research conducted within Kenneth Gardens indicates that an important way of preventing new cycles of delinquency amongst the ‘new’ generation of young people in the estate is the establishment of a youth development programme. Such a programme would provide more positive and supervised spaces for social interaction, skills development, creative expression and life training. Through the creation and capacitation of such a programme, young people living in the Kenneth Gardens estate will be provided with opportunities to improve their life chances, and boost their self-esteem.
Across the world, sports and arts and culture initiatives have proven to be extremely effective in building social cohesion, self-esteem, and providing constructive outlets for expression (creative and emotional). In addition arts and sports programmes have the potential to be a catalyst for acquiring other skills and make learning fun. These sport and art programmes have the ability to facilitate broad social development and peaceful coexistence amongst diverse communities.
The residents of Kenneth Gardens are both resilient and resourceful. They have already established a soccer programme which runs most afternoons. However, these existing sports activities operate at a very informal and ad-hoc level, with no financial or other support. This project will build on these community initiatives through offering a combination of focused workshops, holiday clubs and extended training in a range of sports, arts and cultural fields. We aim to do this through creating a network of individuals and organizations who have an interest or expertise in sports and cultural development. The skills, capacities and resources of this network will be harnessed and co-ordinated to create a comprehensive and sustainable programme for the young people of Kenneth Gardens. A Kenneth Gardens Sports Arts and Culture Committee, comprising of stakeholders that includes members of the Kenneth Gardens Residents’ Association will play a central role in designing this programme and in identifying young people with potential to lead this programme from within the estate.
Kenneth Gardens’ Sports, Arts and Culture Programme
- To offer access to a variety of arts, culture and sports activities for the youth of Kenneth Gardens.
- To inspire a positive social space for youth engagement and interaction within the estate.
- Develop and maintain Kenneth Gardens’ sports teams for youth that participates in the relevant local leagues.
- To offer professional coaching courses to selected Kenneth Gardens’ youth.
- To improve the physical wellbeing and health of young people through structured sports and creative arts programmes
- To provide activities that diverts young people away from activities that are harmful to themselves and others within the estate.
- To provide through sports, arts and culture values such as patience, teamwork and cultural tolerance.
- To provide opportunities for talented young people to access sports as a vocation.
- To develop positive role models through developing the youth of Kenneth Gardens in various sports, arts and culture initiatives.
- Create forums and activities for young people to express and share their creative talents and aspirations.
Existing initiatives in Kenneth Gardens
Soccer: A group of about three young adults living in Kenneth Gardens facilitate and coach soccer for young boys and girls who live in the estate. This they do on a purely voluntary basis. These young adults are not formally trained as soccer coaches. Yet they use their goodwill and skills to create the opportunity for a somewhat co-ordinated soccer programme. In partnership with the well-established Stellawood community sports club in Glenwood one of the young men who coaches the Kenneth Gardens youth was invited to a coaching mentorship and training workshop at the club. These informal soccer sessions continue to be held through the dedication of a few of the young men in the estate. The local Department of Sports and Recreation has also donated soccer kits and nets.
Capoeira and traditional music: To date the UKZN community development team in collaboration with Durban University of Technology (DUT) initiated a weekly Capoeira class held at Glenmore primary school, the feeder school for Kenneth Gardens’ primary school children. Capoeira teaches an originally Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, sports, and music. This class targets young children from Kenneth Gardens and is free of charge, but is also open to interested students at Glenmore School. The Capoeira classes are accompanied by traditional music expression which is run by Dr Sazi Dlamin, a well-known Durban musician based at the UKZN School of Music. About 30 children attend the Capoeira classes on a weekly basis. In a short period, these children have learned skills in body and mind discipline, body flexibility, how to work as a team. The Capoeira class has been exposed to world renowned Capoeira Masters, through their lead instructor, Cristina Giampietri. They have also begun to learn how to play traditional African musical instruments.
This Capoeira and music programme is run on a purely voluntary basis by Dr Dlamini and Ms Giampietri. Yet there are a number of costs which are ‘hidden’ and are not being recovered. The drums and other musical instruments used by the children who participate in the programme are becoming worn and need to be replaced. The Capoeira instructors, on a fairly regular basis, arrange for the children who participate in this programme to take part in Capoeira events in other parts of Durban. No funding is available for this transportation. In addition it would create a strong sense of identity and pride if the children who participate in this programme could be provided with T-shirts or a ‘uniform’. The ability to provide snacks and drinks to the children at the end of a Capoeira session would also be welcomed, particularly given that the children who participate in this programme all come from disadvantaged backgrounds and there is no certainty that they will be properly fed after participating in this somewhat taxing physical training.
Cricket: The Kenneth Gardens estate has huge tracts of land which are not utilized. Open spaces could be used for a variety of sports other than soccer. Recently the Manager of the KZN Cricket Amateur Division, Jay Naidoo, spent some time scoping out the demographics and the physical space at Kenneth Gardens. With the authorization of his management board, the KZN Cricket Amateur Division has decided to commit resources to a development programme at Kenneth Gardens. The aim here is to establish a mini-cricket team. Equipment will be provided and two or three young adults from Kenneth Gardens will be selected to be formally trained as mini-cricket coaches. KZN Cricket has a well-established mini-cricket league that ties into professional cricket offering a viable career pathway for talented players and coaches. The association also has a girl’s league and will actively encourage female participation from the Kenneth Gardens youth.
We do not foresee any hidden costs associated with the cricket programme.
Dancing: Lliane Loots (UKZN), Director of the Flatfoot Dance Company recently partnered with the project to run a dance program for the kids of Kenneth Gardens. A dancer from the Flatfoot Dance Company runs dance lessons at Glenore primary school every Wednesday afternoon. One class is held for the junior pupils and one for the senior students. The classes are available to all Glenmore primary school students and all young people living in Kenneth Gardens. Flatfoot Dance Company is Durban’s best dance outfit and having access to dance lessons on this caliber is a wonderful opportunity for the youth.
Kenneth Gardens Sports, Arts and Culture Committee:
A Kenneth Gardens Sports Committee was established in May 2012. This committee will ensure that all related activities are co-ordinated and that resources are fairly distributed for the programmes that are underway or that are being proposed. This committee is comprised of the coordinators/leaders of each of the activities, a representative from the Community Development Programme at UKZN, and two members of the Kenneth Gardens Residents’ Association. This committee will also be responsible for designing future sports, arts and culture plans, and for evaluating the activities that are running. Ideally we would like to invite a representative from Ethekwini Sports and Recreation to join the committee, even if this is on an ad-hoc basis.
The existing sports, arts and culture initiatives at Kenneth Gardens are currently running on a zero budget. While this is indicative of an element of self-sustainability, funding is required in order to strengthen these initiatives. For example, as indicated, for the capoeira and music programme to continue to operate as robustly as it currently is, it is important to replace worn equipment, purchase new musical equipment to extend the musical skills of the children, and have the capacity to buy T-shirts and provide transport for Capoeira events.
We envisage establishing a sports, arts and culture holiday club programme for school going youth living in Kenneth Gardens. At present, during school holidays, most of the children living at Kenneth Gardens are left unsupervised and spend their days hanging about the estate with no structured activities. Most parents who are residents of Kenneth Gardens cannot afford to take time off during the holidays or pay for child care during school holidays. Developing a holiday club programme within Kenneth Gardens would offer school going children a safe and supervised environment in which to learn new skills and gain exposure to various forms of art and sports. UKZN in partnership with DUT and other organisations such as KZN Cricket would be able to offer the expertise of their staff in running these proposed holiday camps. We anticipate one holiday camp in July and one in December.
We would like to incorporate dance, music, drama and arts workshops/classes into the programme. We have held a number of pubic concerts within the Kenneth Gardens estate. At these events, we have encouraged residents of Kenneth Gardens to showcase their talents. Many of the children wanted to do a public display of their singing, dance and performance skills. We would ideally like to create a structured dance and performance programme. We would envisage bringing on board the relevant departments at UKZN and DUT. Ideally we would like to work closely with the Department of Arts and Culture in structuring such a programme so that it is aligned with their youth development programmes. We would also like to make use of a creative arts programme to provide the space and resources for children to express (through drama, art, and dance) their lived experience and to share their imaginings about creating a better future for themselves and others living in the estate. In other words, we would like the arts and culture programme to link into a broader project of creating (much needed) pride in place at Kenneth Gardens.
The open day events at Kenneth Gardens have proven to be a very successful mechanism for creating a sense of community in the estate, for showcasing talent, and for providing entertainment to residents. Funding to provide formalized support for these events would also be used to develop community talent and support existing initiatives run by the community, such as celebrations on Women’s Day, Youth Day, and Freedom Day. While we have been able to mobiles talented and well known musicians to participate in these events in the past, we have had to cover the formidable costs of setting up a stage and sound for these events.