MusicWorks is a non-profit organisation based in Cape Town, South Africa, and offers psycho-social support through music to young people growing up in marginalised communities. In South Africa three hundred years of colonialism paved the way for Apartheid which left a legacy of waste, nepotism, corruption and the oppression of the majority of our country’s citizens. Its impact is still visible today and the consequences of past and current political, social and economic challenges has led to perpetuated patterns of poverty, gangsterism, unemployment, and family violence that are endemic to communities such as Lavender Hill where this MusicWorks project is situated. Encouraging and strengthening the resilience of young people within this community can empower them to not only break this cycle but also be part of the solution as they become contributing members of their community and society at large. Ebersöhn’s (2012) generative theory of relationship resourced resilience proposes that when individuals use relationships as a way to access, link, and mobilise resources, an enabling ecology is shaped that can foster positive adjustment in a largely at-risk environment. Drawing on this social-ecological understanding of resilience, this paper outlines the MusicWorks project in Lavender Hill and discusses case vignettes of music work with young people and the broader school community. The aim of the project is to co-create musical spaces where young people and those around them can access resourced relationships.
For the purpose of this paper the use of the term “gangsterism” is located firmly within the South African context, were terminology around “gangs” and “gangsterism” refers to a specific grouping of people who are involved in highly structured gangs whose criminal activity revolve mainly around illicit drug trade, with links to local and international organized crime networks ( Chetty, 2015; Goga, 2014; Shaw and Skywalker, 2016; Goga, 2014; Wegner et al., 2018). Several authors have linked the proliferation of gangs, specifically in Cape Town, to the forced removals of people during 1960 to 1980 as part of the Apartheid government’s Group Areas Act ( Chetty, 2015; Goga, 2014; Kinnes, 2017; Steinberg, 2004).
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