The Siyakhona Project

Siyakhona – We can do it! Creating change by giving a voice to disadvantaged communities

Siyakhona is a project that trains young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to be video journalists. It uses the power of the media to create change around critical social issues like xenophobia, corruption, HIV-Aids and homophobia.
Siyakhona is implemented by Hillside Digital, a South African non-profit media development organisation that aims to create sustainable media ‘hubs’ to give communities their own voice.
Our Vision
We aim to bring a voice to the voiceless. Our vision is to empower disadvantaged communities to find solutions out of poverty from within. We believe that by creating socially responsible filmmaking units within these communities we can raise awareness, create action and promote accountability.
Our Mission
To train young men and women not currently in full-time education or employment to be video ‘citizen journalists’, trained and accredited to a professional standard, socially-conscious, aware of the media’s role in civil society and able to create income, become sustainable and train others.
Our Obectives
– To train young filmmakers how to create social change through the media
– To give disadvantaged communities the impetus to create change from within
– To create sustainable hubs of video citizen journalism

Why Siyakhona?
In 2010 the world’s leaders met with international development agencies and corporations at the United Nations Millennium Development Goals summit in New York. The message was clear: the world is falling far short of its promise to help those most at risk from poverty, disease and despair. In 2002 the World Bank asked people around the world living on less than $1 a day to identify the single greatest barrier to their own advancement. Above even food, shelter or education, the need they identified was access to a voice.
We believe that the only way to achieve long-term change is to give people the means to find solutions from within. ‘Siyakhona’ means ‘we can do it!’ in the common South African languages Zulu and Xhosa and embodies the spirit of the project: to empower Africa’s most disadvantaged communities to find the means to help themselves out of poverty. We believe that video journalism and the internet, together with new media and mobile and emerging technologies, have enormous potential to: eradicate poverty; protect human rights and civil liberties; expose incompetence and corruption; create dialogue and action and; empower communities to allocate funds in their own interests.
How does it work?
Siyakhona trainees go into the community and find out what the most critical issues affecting people are. They then produce a 30-minute news magazine show on these issues together with culture, local news and community success stories. These magazine shows are screened directly back into the community through ‘mobile cinema’ events attended by thousands of people. The community is invited to the screenings to discuss and find solutions to the challenges in the films. Local health and social services and NGOs are invited to use the screening events to disseminate vital information – right into the heart of the community.

Siyakhona screening event in Khayelitsha township, South Africa

Siyakhona – community change in action
In August 2010, Siyakhona trainees working in Alexandra township in Johannesburg found out that residents were concerned with rats- some of which are giant- infesting their houses and biting their children when they are sleeping. The Siyakhona trainees made a film about the issue and screened it within the community and with local stakeholders. Later that month, with the support of the City of Johannesburg, Siyakhona trainees mobilised hundreds of volunteers for a three-day clean-up campaign in the township to remove the rubbish and address the pollution problem that was allowing the rats to breed.
Where do we work?
Siyakhona hubs are currently operating in two of the most economically deprived communities in South Africa- Alexandra township in Johannesburg and Khayelitsha township outside of Cape Town.
What do we provide?
Siyakhona harnesses Sony’s position as a global leader in creative media to provide state-of-the-art digital video equipment including video cameras, laptops, editing software and equipment for community screenings- including a projector, speakers and a large screen. Trainees are selected by working closely with local community organisations to identify motivated young people in need of opportunities. Each trainee undergoes an intensive, ten-month course in all aspects of video journalism, including pre and post production and in new media techniques like blogging and creating content for internet television. They also learn how to conduct post-viewing discussions and surveys as well as how to locally market, monitor and evaluate their work.
Siyakhona and the 2010 FIFA World Cup South AfricaTM
Siyakhona is part of the social legacy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and began as part of Sony’s collaboration with FIFA on corporate social responsibility through Football for Hope, the movement led by FIFA and streetfootballworld.
Siyakhona is working with ’20 Centres for 2010’, the official campaign of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa which aims to build 20 centres of education, public health and football across the African continent. Each centre is designed to become a hub for all kinds of community development including media and communications. Siyakhona is currently working at the Khayelitsha Football for Hope Centre in Cape Town and is exploring plans to expand to other Football for Hope Centres in South Africa and across the African continent.


  1. This is really a great initiative football or rather sports in general can be used as the vehicle to solve many problem of the world. How can I get involved?

    • Siyakhona says:

      Hi Wilson,
      Thank you for the great response. Our mission is to open community production units throughout Africa to become the strongest and truest voice coming from the grass roots. It is my hope to open a unit in Kenya in the next year. I could use your help in sharing your skills with the citizen journalists we train in Kenya. In the meantime we need as much support as we can get, help us by spreading the word and please feel free to contribute with comments, discussions and ideas to make this revolutionary dream a reality.


  2. […] what the press are saying.The Siyakhona ProjectSupport SiyakhonaAcknowledgements and SupportAbout […]

  3. short says:

    up…up.up guys! your vision motivates us in mozambique as well.

  4. Clive Mopeleti says:

    I reside in Cape Town, studying Film and TV studies & Media and Writing in UCT. I would like to be involved in any way possible, especially on Khayalitsha since im closer to it. Please here’s my email address: if you can help.


  5. Teboho Sello says:

    Thanks to the siyakhona team! It really inspired me to take a step towards community development without overlooking the social and cultural aspects.

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