Teens on stage of cultural exchange
An innovative and creative arts and cultural exchange festival for youths gets underway in KwaZulu-Natal today.
The programme was started in Norway in the late 1960s by the YMCA.
It only started taking off in Europe, Asia and the US in the 1980s, and then recently in Africa.
There are now hundreds of YMCA Ten Sing groups around the world.
Ten Sing began in South Africa in 2000, and there are 15 Ten Sing groups in three different provinces. Eight of them are in KwaZulu-Natal.
Ten Sing, from the Norwegian word "ten" for teenagers and the English word "sing", is a programme driven by youth, who use drama, dance and music to express themselves and their views on socio-cultural issues such as violence, drugs and HIV-Aids.
It is driven and run by the youth. But because it is driven by a mentor, youth, among many skills, also learn about leadership.
This year's programme, which ends on Sunday, will feature 60 South African and 30 Norwegian youth, says Fezeka Gwala, vice- chairman of KwaZulu-Natal Youth Committee of the YMCA.
"The programme helps young people to express themselves and their own reality in a public forum - like on stage.
"It focuses on training young people to take responsibility for their own programmes, and in the process receive training in leadership skills," Gwala added.
"As South African youth, we have so much to share in terms of our creativity, our talent and the way we use this to express how we feel about the very real problems we face in South Africa.
"We also have much to share about our perseverance and our resilience in the face of adversity and lack of funding," she said.
Gwala said the main difference between Ten Sing and other creative arts programmes is that it is driven and run by the youth.
It gives youth an opportunity to discuss issues such as violence, rape, unemployment, crime and HIV-Aids, which are some of the problem areas in the country.