Funda Centre

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[Funda = “learning”]

Also referred to in some sources as Funda Arts Centre. From 1994 known as Funda Community College.

Founding and Ethos

Founded in 1984 and run by Matsemela Manaka. Sponsored by the Urban Foundation. The centre was specifically dedicated to the arts.

From Xaba: "The ethos at Funda was to decolonise African theatre and to create original theatre productions that did involve Eurocentric themes or formats. This also applied to other art forms that were taught at Funda, namely dance, music and fine arts. The centre framed its ideas on socio-political interaction (within urban and rural communities), academic discussion and art making from an Africanist perspective. The Funda Arts Centre comprised the Soyikwa Institute of African Theatre, the Soyikwa Dance Project and the Madimba Institute of African Music."

To fulfil their aspirations of establishing Funda Arts Centre as a nexus of African culture, the centre invited the Soweto community to Saturday readings and debates on various cultural topics. The African Writers Association often held public meetings at Funda. The association also collaborated with the Council for Black Education and Research to present short story and poetry awards .


Members of staff at Funda included Professor Ezekiel Mphahlele, Matsemela Manaka, Sibongile Khumalo, Ali Hlongwane, Job Kubatsi and Motsumi Makhene (who directed the music programme at Funda Centre’s Madimba Institute of African Music).


Performances/productions staged at the Funda Centre included International Hot Talk ’87 written and performed by Andrew Chabeli and John Ledwaba, Crisis of Conscience by Walter Chakela (1986), The Clover Play (1987), Mothobi Mutloatse’s Lakutshon Ilanga (1988) and Baby Come Duze (1990), Top Down, Golden Gloves, Channel 48, We Shall Sing for the Fatherland, Stronghold, Moloko my Home, my Prison, Jika, Last Down (directed by Owen Sejake and Poppy Taira), Fair is Foul, Amagoduka, Pula.

By 1994, theatre activities at the Funda Centre had moved to the Windybrow Theatre in Hillbrow.


Andile Xaba. 2021. 'Collective memory and the construction of a historical narrative, analysis and interpretation of selected Soweto-based community plays (1984–1994)'. Unpublished PhD thesis.

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