BOTHA’S HILL – Sthembiso Mhlongo directed five little gum boot dancers as they stomped in sync on a crisp Sunday afternoon (July ,17) in Botha’s Hill.
Drama and Television Studies graduate, Mhlongo (31) said he runs a program called D.o.G.o.D Young Life, teaching dance, poetry and drama to the youngsters in his community. “It gives them something to do,” said the KwaNyuswa resident.
D.o.G.o.D stands for “Daily Oppressed Groups of Dreamers,” and Mhlongo has been running the initiative alone since 2007. “It’s about helping young children to do something with their lives,” said Mhlongo who explained that some of the youngsters come from “depressed, broken homes.” While his long-term dream is to be an actor, Mhlongo is currently unemployed and looking for a job as a promoter.
The D.o.G.o.D group were filmed just outside the 1000 Hills Arts and Crafts Centre (best known for the Pot and Kettle) where they danced amidst the dangling curios. The 5 talented boys in the video are Minenhle, Bayanda, Khayelihle, Andile and Ntando. Their steps were practiced to perfection and the surprise entertainment made for a good show.
“We put down our hat,” said Mhlongo, explaining that he taught the boys to share. With their earnings they buy food and eat together. “I’d love to have a place to practice and buy uniforms for the boys,” said Mhlongo who was very happy with the colorful gumboots kindly donated by Hillbilly’s Restaurant and Lifestyle Centre. Owner Rachel Niemandt said she donated 8 pairs of gum boots to the dancers. “They come every Sunday and dance, then they go and play on the jungle gyms,” said Niemandt who added that the boys don’t have a play area where they live.
The D.o.g.o.D Young Life gum boot dancers are worth a watch.