About Us

The unique Ekhaya Multi Arts Centre (EMAC Centre) opened in September 2003. It is the vision of the Kwa Mashu Community Advancement Projects for integrated arts development in Kwa Mashu Township – an urban renewal node as prioritised by President Mbeki in 2001. The organisation recognized that there was a critical shortage of arts and culture related facilities for disadvantaged Kwa Zulu – Natal communities and identified Kwa Mashu as the most viable location for a multi – arts centre (Kwa Mashu was severely hit by political instability and violence during the 1980s and early 1990s – which led to many orphaned youth – yet the township is richest in arts and culture having produced best artists for screen, theatre, music and dance. Ekhaya is a multi-purpose space for showcasing presentations and performances. This includes facilities such as Ekhaya Compute Lab (with Internet), Music Recording Studio, Theatre Facility, Dance Studio, Workshop Space, and Video Editing multi-media suite and a community radio VIBE FM facilities. The centre involves the community in radio drama and creative script writing, video production, Film Festival, traditional arts and cultural activities and African arts. The Ekhaya Multi Arts Centre offers a wide variety of programs each year.

The Kwa Mashu Community Advancement Projects (K-CAP) is a non-profit organization (012-391 NPO) founded in 1993 and currently has a credible seven member board. It is the unique integrated arts organizations in Kwa Zulu-Natal and the only organization that has built its own unique Ekhaya Multi Arts Centre in Kwa Mashu, the oldest township of Durban. The organization has a reputation of producing internationally acclaimed theatre productions annually; implementing reputable integrated arts training programmes and runs annual events of national and international status.

Edmund Mhlongo, the current Artistic Director and founder, has been instrumental in the success of the organization.

An active community arts centre!

Kwa Mashu at Glance:

ir Marshall Campbell, the sugar magnate, had a name the Zulus found difficult to pronounce, so they reduced it to ‘Mashu’, hence Kwa Mashu, the place of Marshall. The early settlement developed into a township in 1958 – the land was originally owned by abasemaQadini (the Qadi clan). The township gained notoriety due to “gangsterism” – hence the nickname eSinqawunqawini – the dog that eats other dogs. Funny enough the name eSinqawunqawini – it is said came about because of a woman vendor who when her meat she was selling finished called the boys to slaughter the dog – this was due to high demand of meat by workers constructing the rail line to Kwa Mashu – who always frequent her place. She did not tell them they were eating the dog – and when they honesty praised her best meat of the name and wanted to know of what animal – she just answered – “it is the “isinqawunqawu meat”. After some day they discovered that they were actually fed the dog meat (“isinqawunqawu meat”). Kwa Mashu is also famous as “intshebe ya Kwa Mashu” (the bearded man of Kwa Mashu). Some says this bearded man heard the gunshot for the first time near the rail station and fell down legs up – unfortunately – was hit by a passing train – the head with its long beard was seen running like hell!! Well, nowadays Kwa Mashu is famously known as “eShwini” (a nickname taken from e-si-Ma-Swhini = at Mashu)

Kwa Mashu located 20kms north of Durban, is today a good venue for township tours and shebeen crawls. Kwa Mashu was originally created in 1958 through the forced removals of African people from Cato Manor (Mkhumbane) – and became the first township in Durban. The housing types found in the township range from the originally built red brick 2-roomed and 4-roomed houses. The 2-roomed houses are mainly found in Sections B, C and J. Then there are doubled-four-roomed (mainly section E&F) and doubled 2 roomed – mainly L-Section. However with residents earning extra income most houses have been developed into nice 5-6 roomed houses – some with quality face-bricks. During the late 1970s – a new set of rich housing development took place – mainly in Section D – with mansions like style.

At the Presidential Job Summit in 1999, Kwa Mashu Township, due to its history, high rate of unemployment and crime was identified for Presidential Urban Renewal Strategy Programme – focusing more on building infrastructure and functional policing for proper security. (Thereafter proclaimed as INK) The strategy prioritised specific interventions to address job creation and poverty alleviation in the project area. These interventions / projects were identified by means of a project scan. The Kwa Mashu area is a national priority project for Urban Renewal initiative. The social dislocation and hardship created by forced removals from Cato Manor in the 1950s and 1960s have left deep scars in Kwa Mashu, which remains one of the poorest and least socially cohesive townships.

Total population of Kwa Mashu: According to official statistics Kwa Mashu has a population of over 800 000 people. However, this does not include surrounding informal settlements of Kwa Mashu, which if counted makes an estimated population of just over 1million. The young people are 60% of the total population of which more than 51% are females.