Josette Cole is a social activist, development consultant, and writer. She was born in Cape Town, South Africa, grew up in Toronto, Canada, and later returned to Cape Town in December 1975. Since the late 70s, she has worked in a variety of spaces revolving around non-profit work, social development, and activism, including a large portion of her life working in and writing about Crossroads Township. In 1987 she published her first book Crossroads: The Politics of Reform and Repression - 1976 to 1986. She currently runs her own non-profit while also working as a consultant for other NGOs.
From the J Cole Collection:
MAYENZEK Development Initiative Summary
The Mayenzeke Development Initiative (Mayenzeke) was registered as a non-profit organization in late 2019. While relatively new on paper, its genesis and roots go back to 2001 when the Mandlovu Development Initiative established a pilot project (Mayenzeke e New Crossroads) that aimed to explore and test a theory of change for taking forward community development in a post-apartheid context. The theory, conceptualized by its founder and director (Josette Cole), argued that for an approach to community development that integrated memory, arts, and culture into its practice to inspire citizens to become active agents of social change in their respective communities. Between 2001 and 2006, the project facilitated a suite of micro-level socio-economic and cultural initiatives that were owned and driven by a collaborative partnership between the Mandlovu Development Initiative, residents, and a diverse group of strategic partners. The project implementation team was comprised of a community-based inter-generational team, the majority of whom were youth from New Crossroads.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, Mayenzeke has not been fully operational since its registration in 2019. Work to date has been largely focused on establishing an Advisory Think Tank/Board, doing strategic planning, and building a loose network of activists and development practitioners in Cape Town and beyond who are keen to become part of future Mayenzeke projects and initiatives.
We are currently mobilizing resources and partnerships to launch this work in Cape Town in early 2022, starting with a collaborative Beyond the Museum Project that builds on previous work undertaken through the Mandlovu Development Initiative linked to the history of Crossroads. As of writing, there is interest from community-based groups and activists in New Crossroads, Old Crossroads, Lower Crossroads/Philippi, and Khayelitsha. The project will focus on youth and elders from these communities, mobilizing memory/history, arts, and culture to build a common narrative of black African settlement, life, and culture in Cape Town that can inspire social agency and social innovation aimed at social transformation in and across their respective communities.
A key building block for this initiative is the digitization of Josette Cole’s extensive archive of photographs, slides, tapes, and documents covering the history of these areas in and around Crossroads since the 1960s. If you would like to learn more, make a donation towards the digitization of this archive, or support the planned work of Mayenzeke, contact Josette Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.