Sihlalo Youth Theatre (SYT) Program

Sihlalo Promise (the philanthropic arm of Sihlalo Outreach) sponsors a children’s dance and African music program every Saturday for the past year.  Initially one of the mothers accompanied the children.  Up to 20 disadvantaged children now come in from Phillipi and Belville to learn modern dance with Sophia, and African marimba, mbira and drumming with Kuda.

Learning dance, and to play instruments, has far-reaching effects for children.   It teaches children left-brain skills which they don’t often get from other academic activities, or from sport.   It is well known that children who learn left brain skills do better in class than their peers.

Learning dance and music teaches children discipline, patience and team work, and gives them skills that will help them to get ahead in life.  For instance, it teaches them to listen, follow instructions, count in time, memorise dance moves or music sequences, respect others and take responsibility for their role in a group.   They also learn in a fun way to strive towards achieving goals.

They learn to prioritise their time and achieve more in their day, and it gives them confidence in public, poise and maturity.

These life skills are particularly important for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Sihlalo Outreach is dedicated to providing opportunities to otherwise disadvantaged African children.  Children are the future in any culture, and never more so in a developing country where education, skills development and opportunity isn’t so widely or freely available.

SYT students are aged 6-15 years.  They are all currently funded by donations.  They mostly come from single parent families on unstable incomes from Philippi, Parow and Salt River, who otherwise could not afford tuition for their children.  Organising safe, reliable transport each week for up to 20 children to attend class has been a challenge because of gang violence in the townships.  The children are always hungry, so a healthy midmorning snack is part of their Saturday SYT ritual!

In the 12 months that SYT has been running, we have seen natural musicians and youth leaders emerge.  The children arrive on time every Saturday morning excited to learn and be together.   They have been respons ible for finding a regular, responsible driver, and encouraging new children to join the group.   SYT wants the outputs of its program to be seen not only in musical performance, but also in confidence, dignity, self-respect, honesty, self-control, love of learning, and organisation.  It also wants to provide children with marketable musical skills and a way of earning in an uncertain world.


SYT dance classes have finished for 2022.  Miss Sophia Karayiannis taught the children from a recognised modern dance curriculum, with the aim of doing end of year examinations.   Dance classes can be negotiated in 2023.    African music classes are ongoing until 12th December 2022.  These are taught by Kudakwashe Kangome (African instrument maker, marimba and mbira player, and drummer).   African music classes (marimba, mbira, drums) are available in 2023.

In 2023, SYT can currently take 10 fee paying students (10 week terms) (R50 a week for 2.5 hours of African music tuition)

Instrument making

Kuda is a gifted instrument maker whose aim is to make an African instrument for every SYT child to take home to practice.  He is a talented African musician.  He learnt to play as a child from village elders.  He has been playing for over 35 years, and is well known in the international marimba, mbira and drumming circles.  He is passionate about making affordable instruments for students to practice on between classes so that they can learn efficiently.

He is currently working with Keith to source sustainable resonant woods for the keys and sound boxes of the marimbas.  With Keith’s knowledge of woods and woodwork, and Kuda’s knowledge of instrument making and tuning, their African instruments are increasing in number, quality and size.


Sihlalo Youth Theatre Plan

Attracting sustainale funding is our 2023 goal so that local children living in informal settlements can attend classes regularly

This will teach them to be on time, prepared, and give them essential life skills.

  • Sihlalo Outreach is a fully registered, VAT-compliant, not for profit training program. All donations to its philanthropic arm (Sihlalo Promise) are tax deductable
  • Donate directly or online

Donations needed urgently for safe transport, uniforms & instruments

Sihlalo Philanthropic Arm Banking Details:

Sihlalo Promise NPC

FNB (Business Account) 62809525233

Woodstock Branch

Branch Code 201909