Tembisa Pantsula group shines on world stage
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There is a group from Tembisa that is flying the South African flag high in Paris.
The Red Devils, whose name stems from the popular Manchester United team’s nickname, represented the country in the current reality TV competition France's Got Talent.
The crew, made up of 15 members, flexed their pantsula skills for the world to see with the help of Tv Yabantu.
Tv Yabantu is a cultural television channel on YouTube that empowers African cultural artists in order to educate, restore and promote African culture to the world.
The group initially started in the year 2000 with eight members until four pulled out. The remaining four registered the group and became a solid crew in 2005.
“The streets of Tembisa are not safe sometimes, we come from poor background families. Life here is so quick. We wanted to do something different as boys. We have faced a lot of challenges in this life and finally received some help in the form of financial and spiritual support from Pastor Bushiri and Tv Yabantu who helped us to get passports and visas,” said group leader Solly Phahlamohlaka.
The crew ranges from 6 to 32 years of age.
It was a video of their dancing that they recorded that got them recognised as the best among 200 pantsula groups that sent their entries through as well.
“We are the first group from SA that has been called to do France's Got Talent. We went all the way through to the semifinals and made it to the Top 6 in the final.”
For the head dancer, making it that far was the most important goal for the crew.
“In life you can’t just be chasing money, otherwise you will run into problems. You must work hard and that hard work will show your worth. Our group has now been exposed to bigger opportunities for us to perform at carnivals, state shows and the like which is the main thing we wanted.”
Travel costs for the group were sponsored by Tv Yabantu
France's Got Talent was the first major international show they performed in for international audiences. Back home in 2018, the group won a major title for their Pantsula dance in the Arnold Classic Africa Multisport Festival.
They have also featured in a spread for a magazine in New York.
“My hope for the group is to see Tembia change for the better. We see our brothers lying on the streets high on nyaope and other drugs all the time. I just want to see change in my community; people to use their talents and get the help they need to pursue their dreams. Right now all we see is drugs and abuse. Hopefully they can learn from us and we can help them with their skills and connect them to others who may be able to help and change their lives.”
The crew is open to expanding their team.
“People are welcome, as long as they are patient and confident in their skill. Our time on the show was great. We weren’t even nervous. We went to Paris to show them Pantsula dance, something that originates in South Africa. They were not going to get it anywhere else. So going forward when they need anything Pantsula related, workshops or entertainment, they will contact us. These international talent shows only get to see the same type of acts- singers, magicians, hip hop dancers and musicians. We came with a different flavour altogether that we are proud of because it belongs to us as South Africans.”
France's Got Talent is currently on Episode three, showing the group’s talent and journey.