Rastafarian community in Hangberg team up with NGO to empower area
The Meraki Bay NGO wants to empower the area’s 2000 residents, and started its very first project in Cape Town in November 2018.
The Rastas chose Hangberg because they say it reflects the same problems faced in other disadvantaged communities. The majority of those living there are unemployed and many of the children are not in school.
Rastafarians make up a significant number of the residents of Hangberg.
A community celebration, which is part of the project, is held every Sunday to unite all cultures and educate them about the value of humankind.
Meraki Bay project co-ordinator and Hangberg community representative Ricardo Phillips said: “The Rasta community is respected here and we believe in standing up for our rights.
“The apartheid system influenced our forefathers' decisions because they weren’t well educated and could easily be moved around.
“It is up to us now to educate the current generation as much as possible so we don’t become a disempowered community.” Phillips said people outside the community still hold a negative perception of the area following the protests and riots for social housing and hopefully the project could help shift this perception.
Meraki Bay runs an after-school project for children to help keep them off the streets, and a women empowerment project for women aged from 55 to 80 to teach them how to use their creativity and begin their own local businesses.
There is also an entrepreneurship programme aimed at creating employment through training.
He said the community coming together for different events gave a platform for the Rasta leaders in the area to teach the youth about the respect and values that are held very close to Rasta culture.
People coming together and learning about the culture served as an alternative to gangsterism, he added.
Meraki Bay project manager and founder Borja Martinez initially started a similar project in Spain and decided to bring the programme to the Hangberg community.
Martinez said: “The people in the community mirror the social issues faced all over Cape Town.
"They also open their arms to the public that would like to assist the community and develop the youth in the area.”
He said if each programme could educate a person, then that person could spread that knowledge to someone else. It’s about creating a ripple effect.
Phillips said: “Farming is also the way forward for us and we hope to register ourselves as local farmers.
“We do not have the land to farm but we do have the infrastructure and knowledge of farming.”@Sukainaish