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by Mahala Scribes / 24.11.2015

For years, Red Bull has invested in game-changers in extreme-sports, music and art – those individuals and groups who are pursuing the unthinkable and refusing to be unstoppable. For the past three years, Red Bull have been doing the same for young social entrepreneurs – those who might not be snowboarding the steepest slopes in Alaska, but are climbing similar mountains in the socialsphere…

Red Bull Amaphiko is a collaborative platform for young entrepreneurs who are using their big brains, creativity and energy to address grassroots social issues and make a positive change in the world. This November, Old Mutual partnered with Red Bull Amaphiko to give 16 inspiring social pioneers from around South Africa a jam-packed 10 day training and mentorship programme.

The Red Bull Amaphiko Academy took place predominantly at the Guga S’thebe Community Arts centre in Langa, Cape Town. The centre was spruced up ahead of the event by Red Bull and a team of local artists to create a homely environment as comfortable as possible for asking questions, participating, debating and taking in all the awe and wonder of the speakers.

STOCKAERIALThe Academy was a hub of life with inspiration oozing out from every corner of the colourful couch-filled room. The participants were given talks, mentorship and workshops by leading social innovators from around the world as well as goose bumps and good advice from iconic social shakers such as South African activist, poet and story-teller – Gcina Mhlope; founder and Managing Director of Design Indaba – Ravi Naidoo; American street art and grafitti photo-journalist – Martha Cooper; veteran broadcaster and prime-time news anchor – Pat Pillai; director of high performance for Red Bull’s global athlete development program – Andy Walshe and many others.

The participants’ social projects are diverse but are all equally addressing important social challenges in South Africa and around the world. From gangsterism; to technological devices to assist the deaf; to combatting South Africa’s electricity and housing crisis – the young participants are all bravely leading the way toward a responsible future.

“We are young people and we want to be part of the change that is necessary. What drives me is not being defeated by small things,” said 2015 Amaphiko participant, Philasanda Bongo, who is setting up a project that uses solar fields placed on shopping centre roofs to provide electricity for surrounding communities.

STOCK2015participants Above: 2015 Red Bull Amaphiko participants. Langa, Cape Town

Old Mutual came to the party this year as an official sponsor. They’ll be supporting each of the entrepreneurs with a personal financial adviser and also surprised them at the Academy this year Oprah style – giving them a surprise R10 000 cash boost to help them get their businesses rolling.

Red Bull’s role is to support the participants in achieving their dreams by walking the long, ruthless road of entrepreneurship with them. “I think the most important thing is the community we build,” said  Red Bull Amaphiko Director, “Uncle” Ian Calbert, at an Academy couch session. “What they’re doing in their own little corner of the world can be a lonely thing and just that they can share those challenges and successes with a group of people who care about them is probably the most valuable thing that we can put in place,” he said.


In addition to the iconic speakers, workshops and cultural events held in and around Cape Town – Red Bull brought together creative shapeshifters in an attempt to uplift the spaces in and around Langa. Top international and local street artists came together to create a unique outdoor gallery and B-Boy crews and MC’s created open stages on street corners in Khayelitsha and Eersterivier. Red Bull also collaborated in the Open Streets Social Innovation Festival where participating entrepreneurs in the Amaphiko Academy showcased their work to the Langa community and visitors from across Cape Town and beyond.

Ultimately, Red Bull Amaphiko wants to be a catalyst for a greater social movement and by telling the entrepreneurs’ stories to a wider audience it hopes to inspire as many people, as well as as many corporates, as possible to turn the corner and go out and do the same.

“We need to tell positive stories. Stories of light and happiness,” said Gcina Mhlope in her spellbounding talk given at the Amaphiko Academy this year. “There are so many of us ordinary people that do extraordinary things and we never hear about it, all we hear about is corruption and crime. Let’s tell happy stories. Let’s bring back the hope.”

And hope can still exist amongst reckless realities…

B-Boys in Khayelitsha, Eersterivier and Langa:

bliksemstraal-khaya Above: Cape Town breakdancer and MC, Bliksemstraal, kicks it in Khayelitsha, Cape Town
kideo-lakakintle Above: Local rapper Kideo Lakakintle poses for a portrait after passing by for a freestyle. Khayelitsha, Cape Town
rubin-11yrs Above: 11 year-old B-Boy, Rubin, kills it in Eersterivier, Cape Town
dance-eersterivier Above: Locals have no skaam in the circle. Eersterivier, Cape Town
constant-miles Above: Local rapper, Constant Miles (18 years-old), poses for a portrait after a mind-blowing freestyle. Eersterivier, Cape Town
wheelchair-eersterivierAbove: Local teenage girl watches dancers from her yard. Eersterivier, Cape Town
keenan-blauw-15yrs-eersterivier Above: Keenan Blauw, 15 year old skater. Eersterivier, Cape Town
eerste-longshotmartha-cooper Above: Legendary photo-journalist, Martha Cooper, snaps some local B-Boys from the roof of the Red Bull music truck. Langa, Cape Town

Open Streets Festival, Langa:

sisanda-mapoma-langa Above: Langa resident, Sisanda Mapoma, poses in front of a mural in Langa, Cape Town
musician_langa Above: Local musician jams on the stoep. Langa, Cape Town
castor-oil Above: Red Bull Amaphiko participant, Thabang Mabapa, explains how he is converting castor oil into renewable energy. Langa, Cape Town

Street art in Langa:

olwethu-mtoto-RESIZED Above: Olwethu Mtoto, 11 year-old skater from Langa, poses for a portrait in front of mural by Falko One. Langa, Cape Town

Check out street artists Falko One (SA), Mundano (Brazil), Monstarium (Kuwait), Skubalisto (SA) and more in Red Bull’s short video ‘Taking Art to the Streets’:

Read the full story on the street art in Langa done over the Red Bull Amaphiko Academy and see more images here: www.mahala.co.za/art/the-window

* In-text images supplied by Red Bull

** Lead image caption: Social innovators in energy, Lukholo Funde, Shalton Mothwa and Thabang Mabapa, pose for a portrait during the Red Bull Amaphiko Academy in Langa, Cape Town, South Africa on November 5, 2015.

*** Images of B-Boys, Open Streets and Street Art © Robyn Perros

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