Maboneng Township Arts Experience Favorite 



Jan 1 2001


South Africa

At the age of just 30, Palesa Ngwenya is helping transform these areas through her position as development coordinator of Maboneng Township Arts Experience. “We turn homes in the townships into art galleries,” says the young South African woman, who grew up during apartheid. “It’s about showing people that you can use what you have to do things that can change your life."

The mission of Maboneng Township Arts Experience — which has locations from Cape Town to Johannesburg — is both social and entrepreneurial. In addition to empowering locals, creating jobs and promoting arts and culture, the group wants to show travelers how the people of South Africa really live. “It’s our aim to get tourists to come and have a visit,” says Ngwenya. “It’s not a matter of looking at people from a bus. It’s about interacting with the actual people.”

Her husband, Siphiwe Ngwenya, founded Maboneng Township Arts Experience 15 years ago in a township near Johannesburg called Alexandra. Originally, he just wanted a way to exhibit his own artwork, but then it took off. “It was a way to take back power,” says Palesa Ngwenya, who came onboard to help with fundraising and to up the profile of the organization. “We’re trying to alleviate certain injustices that we have in our country.”

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