In photos: First Thursday in Mitchells Plain

To help turn Mitchells Plain into a tourist spot, RLabs have created a number of experiences under the “Westridge Tourism Precinct Project”

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Abigail Cookson, Zachary Skippers, Hannah Kilowan, Natanael Afrikaner and Sherri Adams of the Mitchells Plain Music Academy perform at the Mocha Lounge during First Thursday in Mitchells Plain on 2 May. Afrikaner says he loves music, especially performing. “I love when people come to listen.” Afrikaner says that when people clap and sing along, “it makes me happy. It’s a nice feeling to know that people are enjoying what you bring to them”.

When First Thursday began in Cape Town 2012, it was created to give visitors a safe space to explore art, retail stores and bars, at night all on foot. But what if this idea was brought to the Cape Flats? That is exactly what RLabs (Reconstructed Living Lab) has been doing for the almost two years in Mitchells Plain.

“When people think about tourism they don’t think about Mitchells Plain”, says Chenique Jacobs, Project Lead for RLabs House, a non-governmental organisation.

She says that in Cape Town, tourism is Table Mountain and the winelands, and although these places are important, we also have “hidden gems” like Mitchells Plain.

To help turn community into a tourist spot, RLabs have created a number of experiences under the “Westridge Tourism Precinct Project”. First Thursdays Mitchells Plain is one of those experiences.

People admire the art in the RLabs gallery.

The monthly event is held in Westridge and gives people access to food, stalls, art and live entertainment. The vendors and performers are from the Cape Flats.

The event is hosted at the RLabs space. From here people can view graffiti on the walls down the streets, artwork at the nearby RLabs house, or live entertainment at the Mocha Lounge, a venue for events run out of a resident’s garage.

The theme for the event is “It’s the small things”. Jacobs says that they are focusing on “underdogs in the community who are overlooked”.

The environment is safe and there’s a constant stream of people.

She says that they want the community to be aware that they can experience art, music and entertainment in their own neighborhood and spend money locally. The event has over 30 vendors.

She says that Mitchells Plain is known for a lot of bad things, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The event has security and they’ve not had any issues with crime, Jacobs says.

She says that the Mitchells Plain First Thursday events are “for the community”.

Chenique Jacobs, Project Lead, and Mareldia Wentzel, head of business development and support programs at RLabs. Jacobs says that with the local talent in the community, they want to turn Mitchells Plain into a tourism hotspot.

Tina Swiegelaar is one of over 30 vendors at the event and owner of “The Grillfather”, a food truck. She is being assisted by Denver Chrystie. Swiegelaar says that the name of the food truck comes from her late husband who adored the movie “The Godfather”. She says that First Thursdays Mitchells Plain is “an awesome initiative” as you get like-minded people together to showcase the talents in the community.

TOPICS:  Society

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