NYANGA, WESTERN CAPE
Breeze Yoko proposed to paint the Nyanga Stadium wall in memory of his sporting hero uncle Norman Mbiko and his peers, such as Broadhurst Cona, G. Tutu, Morgan Cushe and Benny Sontshi who once stomped that field in resistance, to recall and emblazon the memory of a different Nyanga township and it and South Africa’s heros.
In the last decade, Nyanga township has been dubbed the murder capital of South Africa owing to its high rate of violent crime and gang related violence. This has not always been the case, historically Nyanga was a site for positive resistance and resilience against the apartheid regime and produced dynamic and prominent individuals in the arts, politics and sports. This project seeks to remind residents and the wider community and reinforce the memory of this important local history and pay homage to some of these elders and their contribution to the area and the country.
Home to an estimated 200,000 residents, Nyanga is one of the oldest townships of Cape Town established in the mid-1940s. Some 26 kilometres for the city centre, like most townships in South Africa it was established as a result of the migrant labour system, predominantly for migrant labourers from the Eastern Cape.
Sports and politics in South Africa have always been intertwined and this affected the careers of many black players, who were not given the same opportunities as their white peers; yet many persevered and were able to break through these barriers. The sports field also served as a meeting venue for political activists who would have political meetings under the pretence of watching and discussing sports.
One of the sporting legends from that era is Norman Mbiko, the uncle of mural artist Breeze Yoko. Mbiko’s impact in the rugby world during and post-apartheid was legendary – at the age of 21 Mbiko became the youngest black South African captain for the African Springboks. He served as a coach until his retirement in 2009 and speaks proudly of his proteges’ achievements. Mbiko, still passionate about
the growth and development of young players in the townships and life in general says, “If you have too much to give, too much to offer you cannot just sit and do nothing”.