Portraits of Crossroads is a limited interview series published by Ikamva Labantwana Bethu, a nonprofit operating in the Crossroads Township in Cape Town, South Africa.
Ten Interviews featuring prominent and remarkable individuals affiliated with the Crossroads Township and Ikamva Labantwana Bethu.
Exploring themes of adversity —poverty, gangsterism, and crime — along with showcasing the tremendous community, culture, and resilience of Crossroads.
Crossroads is one of Cape Town’s oldest informal settlements. Along with the neighboring communities of Nyanga, Philippi, and Gugulethu, Crossroads is located in the Cape Flats, part of an expansive territory of unincorporated and informal settlements east of Cape Town's city center with approximately 2.5 million residents. Despite the end of apartheid, these communities continue to suffer from a lack of resources, widespread poverty, governmental neglect, and racial division. As a result, gangsterism, drug use, and youth unemployment continue to define the area. According to the most recent figures from the 2011 census, Crossroads has a 45% unemployment rate, 73% of the population has not completed grade 12, 47% live in informal housing or shacks, and 81% of households have a monthly income of R5 500 or less (350 USD). These statistics continue to define the outside perceptions of Crossroads. In the face of this narrative, organizations like Ikamva Labantwana Bethu are on the ground working to better their community.
Ikamva Labantwana Bethu—“Our Children’s Future” in Xhosa—is a grassroots nonprofit organization in Crossroads Township addressing the crisis of youth unemployment and educational deficiencies in local schools. Founded originally as an after-school program, ILB provides educational support for primary school learners starting in grade 4, with the aim of both placing them in local, high-performing high schools and instilling good study habits, strong characters, and a lifelong passion for learning. To address youth unemployment, ILB partnered with the provincial government to create Youth Cafe, a comprehensive program designed to prepare out-of-school young adults for the job market.
Over the past half-decade—in response to the community’s tremendous need— ILB has added new branches and expanded its focus on community development. Where governmental efforts have failed, ILB has stepped in, striving to change the community from within. As ILB founder and director Siviwe Dlukwana says, “ILB is the light in Crossroads."
Our Production team is led by Ben Harris and Mateo Bolado, university students from Dartmouth College in the United States and the American University in Cairo, respectively. In the spring of 2021, the two spent the semester working at ILB, focusing on education and media, and created Portraits of Crossroads.