BUHLE SITHELA : MEET THE MAN TURNING TRASH INTO POP-UP CINEMA IN CAPE TOWN

BUHLE SITHELA : MEET THE MAN TURNING TRASH INTO POP-UP CINEMA IN CAPE TOWN

With very few cinemas in Cape Town’s townships, Buhle Sithela came up with a blockbuster idea of bringing film to the masses.

It all started as a university assignment. In June 2015, Buhle Sithela, then studying event management in Cape Town, started cleaning the bins in his community.
“We had to market an event we came up with as part of the assignment,” recalls 23-year-old Sithela: “I wanted to do something that would benefit the community, so I set up this event where people in my ‘hood could bring their bins and me and my friends would wash them for a small fee.”
Little did he know that this would be the birth of his social enterprise, Khayelitsha Bin Cleaning Project. Based in Harare, in Cape Town’s largest township, the Khayelitsha Bin Cleaning Project is a weekly bin cleaning service. Every Friday, Sithela and his friends clean close to 50 bins in their area, a figure which has almost doubled in just three years. “We charge R50 per bin. Initially, we didn’t have that many bins. We started with five bins, but things picked up so quickly.”

It’s also fair to say his clients are pretty pleased with the business. One of his clients, Linda Madlebe, speaks glowingly about Sithela and his friends. “I think these guys are setting a good example in our community, especially given that it is gang-ridden. I hope their project grows.”

But it hasn’t been without its difficulties. Besides money being tight, some of Sithela’s cofounders have personal problems that make running the project hard. “Some of them are suffering from drug addiction and there are times I’ve had to single-handedly clean over 30 dustbins. It’s tough.”

Buhle Sithela has often cleaned 50 bins per day to fund his pop-up cinema © STORM WRIGHT

Buhle Sithela has often cleaned 50 bins per day to fund his pop-up cinema
© STORM WRIGHT

In spite of the challenges, there are personal triumphs: “Film has always been one of my biggest passions, but I hate the fact that there are little to no cinemas in the townships. So I decided to start my own screenings. Ekasi Pop-up Cinema is a concept of bringing cinemas to the township. We saw a gap that we don’t have cinemas in our community. I believe films can engage community into one space. We can educate, inspire and entertain using films. By hosting these screenings we create a safe space in the community and we can have discussions after the film.”
Sithela’s first screening was held at a local church. “I don’t have that many resources. I had to lend speakers and a projector from a friend. The turnout wasn’t that great either, but I was just happy I did it. We mostly operate around Cape Town and Eastern Cape.”

Going ahead, the future looks bright. As well as having designs on taking his bin cleaning business to government facilities and supermarkets, the entrepreneur also hopes to take his cinema on a roadshow for different communities. He believes anyone can give back to their community if they’re able to connect with a passion point: “Find something that you love and do it every day. Make sure you have knowledge and skill of the industry you want to join. Attending workshops and seminars can help a lot to find your passion. Education is the one tool nobody one can take from you.”

 

Rofhiwa Maneta / RedBull

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Nigerians in South Africa
Nigerians in South Africa 1726 posts

We are about democracy, human rights, public opinion, political behavior, civil rights and policy aimed at improving the human condition, with a focus on African countries.

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