As part of the ‘Together Against Crime Festival’ taking place at the Cape Town Artscape Theatre from the 28th of September to Saturday, 01 October, social entrepreneur and cofounder of 18 Gangster Museum Wandisile Nqeketho will exhibit a prototype of his gangster museum at the festival. The pro-type is a shipping mobile container that will display art reflecting the plight of gangsterism in various communities in Cape Town and the nation as a whole all in the hope of educating people on the negative consequences of joining a gang.
The container will consist of two parts; one part will illustrate the path to prison and ends in a replication of a Pollsmoor prison cell with a real prisoner inside it, whilst the other part illustrates a positive path away from a life of gangsterism.
“My partners and I created the 18 Gangster Museum to raise awareness about gangsterism so that people can clearly understand this societal ill. So far, over 25 gangsters have been reformed and 8 curated exhibitions within the museum have taken place. We started the museum two years ago when we noticed how young people are being corrupted by gang culture, which can stop them reaching their full potential. I’ve also been personally affected by it, I lost two of my friends when I was younger because of crime”, explains Nqeketho.
On display at the actual museum which Wandisile and his team run in Khayelitsha are images, documentaries, art, music and poetry made by the ex-gangsters. Nqeketho and partners are now working on an edgy concept that involves getting innovative products made in prison by inmates to give a glimpse to lives they could lead after leaving prison.
What gives the project its relevance and edginess is the mere fact that reformed gangsters are the museum tour guides, who facilitate trips to areas around the township of Khayelitsha – a place with a long-standing and notoriously violent gang history. Wandisile recruited these former gangsters through social media and a not-for-profit organisation called ‘Young In Prison’.
“The 18 Gangster Museum is the first of its kind in Cape Town and we truly honoured to be selected as one of the exhibitors participating in the ‘Together Against Crime Festival’ at the Cape Town Artscape Theatre. It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to take visitors on a visceral and immersive journey where they are exposed to gangsterism and its associated issues, helping them to understand both the root causes of gangsterism and its negative impacts. Being part of the Red Bull Amaphiko Academy 2015 has been instrumental to the success and growing footprint of the museum,” concludes Nqeketho.
Gangsterism has become so prevalent in South African townships, that children as young as the age of 12 join gangs. The ‘Together Against Crime Festival’ will target this societal ill and give a glimpse of prison life to the wider community to educate and eventually alter their perception of criminals.