Coffee, Xhosa breaking barriers

The Coffee & Xhosa session gets under way.

A soccer coach from Imizamo Yethu and a Hout Bay woman who started a choir are bringing people together over Xhosa lessons and coffee.

Coffee and Xhosa is a conversational Xhosa class that was set up in 2018 by Tanya Blacher and Thulani Mkoyo, to give residents of Hout Bay the opportunity to learn basic Xhosa in a “relaxed and friendly environment”.

“This is a great way to help bridge the communities and build mutual respect and understanding between our people,” Mr Mkoyo said.

“When I look at our community here in Hout Bay, we are a very small community, yet we are ‘shells’. We aren’t as accommodative of each as we should be. We have, in a way, built walls around ourselves. So I figured language is the best way to try to bring down those walls,” Mr Mkoyo said.

He got involved with teaching through Imbeko, a Xhosa-tutoring programme he completed in 2017, and he even tutored at the course for a couple of months. He then decided to go on his own, teaming up with the Ingoma Choir founder Tanya Blacher, who became his first pupil at Coffee and Xhosa.

“She was instrumental in setting everything up. We started with one class and soon moved onto two groups with some private lessons also on offer,” he said.

Mr Mkoyo was born and raised in Mdantsane, a township near East London in the Eastern Cape, and moved to Cape Town in 2012, before settling in IY where he started coaching soccer.

From the UK and currently living in Hout Bay is Sophie Corbett, who has been attending the classes for the past year.

“I’ve been learning Xhosa for nearly a year with Thulani, and I just love our weekly classes – they are always fun and interesting, and I’ve made new friends through the group,” she said.

She explained that learning Xhosa acknowledged the fact that at least 25% of people locally have Xhosa as a first language.

“I find that if you make an effort to speak in Xhosa, people respond so positively and warmly. It feels important for breaking down barriers,” Ms Corbett said.

Mr Mkoyo has now set his sights on starting a new beginners’ group, preferably an evening class, for people who are unable to come during the day.

There are currently two classes: on Wednesdays starting at 11am, at the Nutmeg Cafe, at Earthworx, and Thursdays, starting at 10am, at The Pelican.

● Mr Mkoyo can be contacted at 074 449 7523.

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