ARTISTS Jacky Moshane and Kere Nyawo have several things in common.
They are both mad about theatre and film, writing, acting and directing. Above all, they share a common past as hardcore criminals who have turned a new leaf and are helping to spread the anti-crime message through the arts.
Nyawo, who plays the funny character Popeye in the SABC1 drama Zone 14, and Moshane crossed paths when the Allanridge, Free State man entered his play, Kuze kube nini, in the annual Stop Crime Drama Festival.
This nation-building partnership project of Dramatists Against Crime, North West Sports, Arts and Culture Department, Absa Foundation, Sowetan, Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation, National Arts Council and Mmabana Foundation invites youngsters to express their views on the futility and folly of crime and criminality through music, drama, dance, poetry and prose.
Nyawo was among the professionals who were assigned by organisers Martin Koboekae and Julian Seleke Mokoto of Dramatists Against Crime to help improve the content, acting and overall presentation quality and other aesthetics of the amateur plays.
Both men were overjoyed when Kuze kube nini won the best production accolade of the festival in Thaba 'Nchu, Free State last year, and when Moshane took the best director award at the same festival in Mmabatho, North West last weekend.
Nyawo, who wrote and directed the powerful anti-crime drama Hola Majita is continuing the coaching and mentoring role at Moshane's drama group, Nyakallong Drama Society, "because I believe the best way ton curb crime is when we involve the youth in finding the solutions.
"Jacky (Moshane) and his colleagues, most of whom are reformed criminals, and all the other concerned youths who have been participating in this festival over the past 14 years, need to be heard, guided and given the space to express their views.
Moshane said: "I am grateful to my big brother Kere (Nyawo) for his talent, patience and leadership skills that have helped us improve both as artists and ordinary, patriotic citizens.
"This festival has helped me and my Nyakallong Drama Society colleagues to find a purpose in life."
The other winners were:
l Nancy Morule, author and director of Bokamoso, for the most promising production award;
l Thapelo Molalwa, Motlalepule Tloome and Elizabeth Mpoae - who featured in the plays The Reason, Kuze kube nini and Obakeng respectively - and took the best actors kudos;
l Veteran writer, director and tutor at the highly respected Soyikwa Theatre Productions, for the best script award; and
l Ohentse Bodibe, author and director of Rice, starring Orapetse Mongale and Christopher Mathe, for scooping the best script honours.