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TELLING STORIES through iKaya Labuntu FM

by Asiphe Cosa

The founder of the recently established Kayamandi-based radio station, Thando Dyantyi, has always had an inkling for the arts. He says that was owing to a vibrant family home. But Dyantyi’s need to tell stories on the ground comes after traveling overseas.

Thando Dyantyi is a young creative, videographer and photographer born and bred in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch. Dyantyi grew up in a home of entertainers with a mom who always shared stories during their family leisure time which he then continued to share and treasure with peers during his high school days. Dyantyi confidently admits how his mother’s first love and hobby of listening to the radio as well as his sister’s singing routine had a significant impact on his childhood, without him realising it which ultimately led him into the entertainment industry.
In 2008, Dyantyi joined Kuyasa Kids. During his time with Kuyasa, he not only found purpose through the stage but also himself. He embarked on his very first international performing outreach to the U.S.A. which evoked his deepest realisation about his purpose. When the group traveled to Indiana, their vision was not only to impress but also to entertain the Americans by telling Africans stories through performing arts. They also hoped that they would be lucky enough to gain one or more sponsors. This experience challenged Dyantyi’s state of mind leaving him to pose the following question: “What is it that I can do to amplify African voices and what can we leave with the Americans as a reminder of us and our soil?”
He also adds that at some point it became puzzling to him when they were asked odd questions about African food, diet, and their living environment. From then on the burning urge of him wanting to tell stories. African stories and local stories never left his sight, stories about where he comes from. Raw stories!
Overall, being amongst the group brought him into the realisation that between dance and music, his true passion lies mostly in the entertainment industry. Acknowledging that during his time with Kuyasa Kids, there weren’t individuals that guided them in terms of career choices, those who had an eye to spot their potential and to guide them. Nonetheless, he continued to grow from performer to being choreographer, teaching and coaching other kids.
After matriculating in 2013, he still felt unsure of his career desires and goals. A gap year was exactly what he needed to explore more of his capabilities. That’s when he joined Film School Africa, by Katie Taylor whom he met through Kuyasa, kicking off his gap-year by doing what he truly wanted. His energy and drive led him to become a mentor for level 1 and 2 students that were passionate about film. His responsibilities included instilling lessons on how to structure a film, how to get started with just an idea, and more. He recalls 2015 as being a wake-up call for him and decided to finally spread his wings by enrolling for a BA degree in Motion Picture Medium at AFDA, a South African film school. “When I got there, I realised that it’s white-dominated so I felt really intimidated especially when I saw the resources that they had, like laptops and equipment, key resources that I didn’t have thought they were required to learn quicker and complete my tasks,” says Dyantyi.
Dyantyi also tells us about how he had to dedicate more of his time on campus to further educate and develop himself. A year down the line, he had to reflect and remind himself of his inner desires and inspirations of telling stories; he still felt that his voice must be heard and that the cinematography and BA degree in Motion Picture Medium didn’t fulfill that. Leaving no stone unturned in his introspection, he eventually answered his calling and faced his urging goal, enrolling for a course in Directing. “As a matter of fact on our first task as a group, we turned out number 1! On my very first project in AFDA as a director that’s when I started getting noticed by other students, to direct white people as a township boy I took it for granted and that was my wake-up call.”
You know what they say about following your calling and being on the right path, the universe reciprocated in 2016 when he won the best director award at the Ubuntu Film Festival, a recognition that harvested more fame; getting noticed by his lecturers who gave him opportunities to speak in AFDA events and leveling him up to be in a position of being the one who is entrusted to run open days. During this time, he was also on Bush Radio as a presenter running a show called “Sakhi Sizwe –building the nation “ as well as a freelancer for SABC 2 improving his camera work and Thando Dyantyi community directing potential. Closer to his graduation period he realised that he needed to shift his focus to completing his degree, so he decided that other tasks and work would have to wait.
“As I’ve said before, radio has always been part of my life because of my mom who loves radio and also me, I grew up as an ndiilinganisa abasasazi “commentator” looking at myself in the mirror or even as entertainment for my mom, so radio has always been part of me and part of my life.”

A vision for a “Local radio station” was born. A station where listeners would feel at home, where listeners could take ownership of the station, that’s when and why the station is called iKaya Labuntu FM – Home for the people

Dyantyi dwells on and explains how iKaya Labantu FM is meant to be a home where one feels accepted, recognized, and where those who are voiceless can be heard. It is no doubt that with the growing population in Kayamandi there is absolutely no better platform that gives the people credible information about career guidance, life, education and entertainment. He gives voice to many young people who have been in the entertainment industry singing, doing poetry and rapping for years with no growth or recognition for them or their voices to be heard. This is a radio initiative that benefits Stellenbosch as a whole, a space to give back their knowledge and skills to the community to inspire the current generation.
The radio is active 24/7 online at the moment, streaming pre-recorded shows and music, while minor issues are being attended to before officially going live. They are currently operating at www.ikayalabantufm.co.za. The minor issues they are attending to include sorting out studio space as well as (lack of) equipment issues which are what has been holding the station back. However, that still doesn’t stop you from listening to it as their website and social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are also active.
TEAMWORK Dyantyi’s efforts at the radio station are also based on the support that he is getting from the community and scholars. To date, he works alongside Sinesipho Sibuta who holds the position of marketing manager as well as Odwa Nomavuka, the station manager.
As they are planning to be on air in the near future, equipment to get started with a studio is that is holding iKaya Labantu FM back. Dyantyi mentions that the registration process to get approval for the radio frequency is a long process which adds to the delays they are experiencing. He is hopeful that the radio’s audience will rapidly grow within the following 2 years so that the application process for the number and frequency can speed up. To date, the Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography has donated computers to iKaya Labantu FM (this is where Thando currently works). You can reach out to them by sending an email to ikayalabantufm@gmail.com or visit their website: www.ikayalabantufm.co.za

images: supplied

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