Things were tough at home – money was scarce and domestic violence pervasive – so around the age of 10, Jacobus decided to rather live on the streets. Handouts dried up as he grew older and he started using drugs as an escape. A chance meeting with a good Samaritan led him to a shelter in Salt River. He was able to go to school and sleep with a roof over his head for the first time in years. At the shelter children are given the opportunity to be part of Zip Zap’s 2nd Chance programme, which helps vulnerable youngsters develop their talents.
‘Trompie’ as he’s affectionately known, chose the circus and he’s never looked back. He matriculated in 2011 and after cycling through the programmes he became a full-time performer.
He now uses his craft to share his story on stage.
Trompie has flourished as a performer and excelled at circus disciplines. He’s performed around the world and was also the main character in a Canadian documentary ‘First Man’ for 5 months. He performs unicycle, juggling, hand-to hand, Cyr wheel, and is a talented acrobat. His sense of fun, comedy and his quirky character makes him an endearing audience favourite!
“You make your own choices in life. You can choose to stay on the streets forever or you can decide to step out of that life.”
Xolani is 24 years old and lives in Du Noon. In 2015 he saw a Zip Zap show in Khayelitsha and was so inspired that he signed up to join D2D. He recently graduated from the Dare2Dream programme and is now a Zip Zap instructor. He rises to the challenge, is responsible and well-respected. Xolani took ownership of the Beginners programme in 2019 when there was a shortage of staff and he excelled at assisting the rest of the team.
He created an amazing act on the scarf for his final year-end evaluation, enjoying much praise from the audience.
Xolani’s confidence has grown in leaps and bounds. He has taken the major step of finding his own accommodation and now manages his own home. He takes great pride in all he has achieved and seizes every opportunity presented.
He also successfully completed an Events Management course during 2019.
“My dream is to look back and connect all the dots and have my own house, car and be self-sustainable.”
Inathi’s family home is in Worcester which is 120km from Cape Town. When she first joined the Simunye Programme, she used to wake up at 4am on Saturday, to catch the 4:45am train that arrives in Cape Town at 8am. When Inathi joined the D2D programme in 2018, she had to attend classes daily. Moving into Our Beautiful Shell meant she no longer relied on public transport, which is often delayed and not always safe.
Once she had moved into the on-site residence, she enjoyed nutritious meals and felt safe. Living with a kaleidoscope of nationalities from all corners of the world also made her life more colourful and taught her valuable lessons about responsibility and cohabitating in harmony. Inathi is a self-taught contortionist and specialises in aerial hoop. She has also developed an interest in the technical aspects of Zip Zap shows, such as lighting and sound. Her best memory at Zip Zap was when her family watched her perform in Journey Returns at Artscape, with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra.
“What I like best about Zip Zap is that its doors are always open for everyone, it doesn’t matter what background, race or flaws you may have… you’ll always feel loved & safe.”
Lukhanyo was super excited when he was selected to join D2D in 2020. He is a self-trained acrobat and appreciates the supportive environment and team spirit at Zip Zap. Instructors are instrumental in teaching him the correct techniques and they challenge his abilities. He admits that the training is difficult, but is proud that he has adapted and continues to grow and develop.
Luhkanyo’s favourite memory is the “Match in Africa# 6” performance at the Cape Town Stadium where he performed to an audience of 51 945 spectators! This was his first performance and was a “once in a lifetime” opportunity for which he is very grateful.
This young student aspires to become a professional artist, performer, and an influencer. He is also dedicated to helping and supporting his family where he can.
“My wish for the world is that everybody is equal, and people can afford to look after themselves, have a full belly when they go sleep and to have a safe and warm place where they can sleep.”
Masizakhe Kovi was introduced to circus arts when he encountered the Ibhongolwethu programme in Khayelitsha in 2015, and he’s been in love with circus ever since! If he had not joined Zip Zap, he would be pursuing further studies and a possible career as a chartered accountant. Masizakhe is a promising contortionist, who also loves doing handstands and acrobatics. His favourite memory is that of performing as part of the Zip Zap showcase at the Match in Africa 6, at Cape Town Stadium, at the invitation of the Roger Federer Foundation. He was lucky enough to share the “stage” with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Masizakhe dreams of being the best male contortionist that Zip Zap has ever had and to be a role model to the other kids.
“My dream is to perform around the world, to go on tours with Zip Zap, and keep on doing what I do best. I also want to be a role model to other kids. I want to inspire them just like I was inspired.”
In 2021, Masizakhe was invited to perform in Zip Zap’s production of Journey Returns, in collaboration with The Artscape Theatre and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra.
Silumko Ndulula started his Zip Zap journey in 2009 in our Ibhongolwethu programme. He joined the Simunye programme in 2014, and in 2018 he successfully applied to join the Dare2Dream (D2D) vocational programme. At the end of 2021 Silumko exited the programme to further his career in the music industry. However, he returned to Zip Zap in 2023 to continue with the D2D programme.
Silumko is a talented and versatile performer, with good acrobatic and dance skills. However, he dazzles with his diabolo act. He has mesmerised young and old with his passion and skill in this circus discipline. He is a dedicated, determined and focussed student and sets high standards for himself, which he prides himself on achieving. He is well-liked and respected within the D2D team and sets a good example to his peers.
Silumko’s hard work was rewarded with being included in the team that performed in the Ivory Coast in March 2019. He performed in 7 sold-out performances of the Zip Zap show, Greatest Little Circus Show, in April and October 2019. A huge highlight for Silumko, and a proud moment for Zip Zap, was when he was selected to perform his act at the Annual Festive Lights Switch-On in Cape Town at the start of the festive season in December 2019, to an audience of 150 000! He was also selected to join the performing troupe on a 34-show tour in Menlyn, Johannesburg later in December 2019.
Silumko was awarded the Performer of the Year Award 2019.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on the D2D programme and performing opportunities. However, it did not diminish Silumko’s resolve, and he was invited to perform with the professional performers in the production of MOYA, An Acrobatic Art Film in 2021. He continues to apply himself and has again been invited to perform alongside the professional performing troupe in the stage adaptation of MOYA, to be performed at the Artscape Opera House, Cape Town, and The Teatro at Montecasino, Johannesburg, in August and September 2023 respectively.
Madison is 10 years old and joined Zip Zap Beginners in 2019. She has made some great new friends at circus and calls them her “special circus friends.” When she first started at Zip Zap she was very shy. Her fondest memory is from her first day, when a boy invited her to join in. He encouraged her not to be shy and now he is her best friend. Maddison has blossomed at circus since then.
Her favourite circus skill is trapeze. She dreams of becoming a good trapeze artist, a chef and a painter. Maddison is also very proudly learning to juggle!
“Learning trapeze has helped me cure my fear with courage.”
Shyleen was born in Malawi and moved to South Africa to live with her father, Mark. He was a gymnast in his youth and attended one of Zip Zap’s adult classes. Mark was instrumental in introducing Shyleen to Zip Zap.
Shyleen joined the Beginners programme in 2019 and, because of her extraordinary enthusiasm and motivation, she has recently progressed to the Zappers programme. She has a special love and talent for acrobatics and contortion, and really shines out in classes! She was saddened that classes were suspended during the national lockdown due to Covid-19.
Nevertheless, Shyleen has made a special effort to keep practicing and has been an incredible inspiration to others as she continues to send videos and pictures to her peers in the Simunye programme. One day, she wants to travel the world as a performer.
“It is very important to persevere and never give up! We must stay strong, respectful and disciplined. These are qualities I have learned from Zip Zap.”
Thea Haywood is 15 years old. She first joined Zip Zap in 2015, when she was just 10 years old. At the time her mother worked at the Cape Town Multi Service Centre and she saw the great progress that other Zip Zappers, Trompie and Remember, were making so she enrolled Thea into the beginner classes.
She re-joined Zip Zap in 2018 again and absolutely loves it. She enjoys the mini-trampoline and the fact that everyone is super-friendly.
Personally, Thea dreams of the world becoming a safer place, of a greener environment and of more facilities like Zip Zap all over.
“I don’t know what I would do without Zip Zap because I have learned so much and it keeps me busy in a positive way. My dream is to join the Zip Zap professional team and to perform with them locally and abroad.”
– Thea Haywood
Shaunwin is a 16-year-old learner at Florida School of Skills. He joined the Jumpstreet programme in 2017. He faced challenges at school because he was a resident at SOS Children’s Village.
It was very difficult for him to cope with peer pressure: his friends at the Village had very different interests and he found himself sacrificing his interests to satisfy friends: if they did not attend workshops at Zip Zap, he felt pressured not to attend either.
However, he persevered and continued to attend the workshops. His instructors report that he has natural leadership qualities and has displayed great progress on the scarf act. He quotes them as his role-models. Shaunwin’s proudest moment is the first show he performed in as part of the Jumpstreet programme. His aspirations while at Zip Zap is to be the best in the programme and to be the best teacher to other kids! His dream for the world is that every child be given an opportunity to do what they are good at.
“To be a good role model to my siblings and other kids, and to have a career that will help me to provide for them and take them out of SOS.”
It was love at first sight for Ayanda when he saw his first Zip Zap show at the Waterfront in 2009.
He enjoys everything they do at Zip Zap and discovered his passion for mini tramp and the unicycle. His favourite memory was learning to do a double front summersault on the mini trampoline, it was so exciting and felt amazing! The instructors are his role models as they are always helpful with new tricks and encourage him to do better.
Ayanda also shared another of his talents with Zip Zap by doing all the beautiful illustrations in our children’s story book ‘I Can Fly’. All proceeds from our book benefit Zip Zap programmes. Ayanda is now 20 years old and enjoys sewing and fashion design, he has also recently progressed to the Dare2Dream programme.
“There are lots of problems in the world. I would change all the violence and hate to make the world a better place. My personal dream is to perfect the three-man unicycle act so that I can tour the world with my friends.”
Amogelang Hlitana was the recipient of the 2022 Fellowship Award in the Simunye programme, in recognition of being a shining example of the Zip Zap values!
Amogelang is 12 years old and is a Grade 6 learner at Vukukhanye Public Primary School in Gugulethu, Cape Town.
Amogelang joined Zip Zap’s Beginners programme in 2019, at the age of just 8 years old, and she looked forward to all that she would learn at Zip Zap. All her hard work and commitment was rewarded when she was selected to progress to the Simunye programme in 2022. She has a keen interest in aerial disciplines, having tried the scarf, lyra and trapeze. Her favourite is definitely Lyra, which she boasts she is best at! Her best memory is her performance at Show & Tell in 2021, which was her first on-stage performance, and she followed this up with her first solo Lyra act at Show & Tell 2022.
Amogelang is a humanitarian at heart: if she could change something in the world, she would “change the inequality of people so everyone is on the same level or, if not, the poor ones be in on a better level”.