Edmund Mhlongo

Edmund Mhlongo was born in 1956 in the village of Nkwenkwe near Melmoth, Northern KwaZulu-Natal. He later moved to KwaMashu when his parents relocated to Durban. He matriculated in 1983 at John Dube High School in KwaMashu and went on to obtain his BA Honours degree at the University of Durban-Westville following which he went to Sussex University in the United Kingdom where he graduated with his Masters degree. In 2005, he was awarded the Durban Theatre Award. He is also a producer graduate from the Hollywood Film Institute.

Mhlongo, a writer and an entrepreneur, is the producer and renowned artistic director. With his name linked to the internationally acclaimed Lion King Productions, and a number of his plays – “Cry Not Child”, “Street Kids” and “Bayede Shaka” – having been performed internationally, it would be easy for Edmund to sit back and enjoy his success. But not so – this is a man who wants to see his community thrive. And to help it on its way Edmund assists local artists through K-Cap (the KwaMashu Community Advancement Projects) based at the Ekhaya Multi Arts Centre that he created. K-Cap is an award winning non-profit organisation that seeks to develop local talent, and at the same time expose the surrounding community to quality arts and entertainment. Through the use of theatre, music and dance the organisation also tries to educate the youth on social issues, such as HIV and Aids. K-Cap also offers learnerships for the performing arts and financial assistance for Grade 12 learners, and works with ex-prisoners as part of a rehabilitation programme.

Ekhaya Multi Arts Centre

In 2003, Mhlongo built the only community theatre in KwaMashu, the Ekhaya Multi Arts Centre which is the home of K-Cap. Ekhaya is a multi-purpose space for showcasing presentations and performances. This includes facilities such as Ekhaya Imagination Computer Lab (with Internet), recording studios, theatre hall, dance studio, workshop space, and editing multimedia suites and facilities. The centre involves the community in radio drama and creative script writing, video production, film festivals, traditional arts and cultural activities and African arts. The Ekhaya Multi Arts Centre offers a wide variety of programmes each year.

In 2014, Mhlongo came up with the KwaMashu Achievers Awards which seeks to honour the people who are excelling in different walks of life, and are from KwaMashu. Among the recipients in 2014 were Thembi Mtshali-Jones; Melusi Yeni; Leleti Khumalo; Nomzamo Mbatha; Nonkululeko “DJ Le Soul” Mdlalose; Madala Kunene; Khanyo Maphumulo; Baleka Mbete, and Jeff Radebe among many others. In the same year he also directed Amambazo: The Musical in 2014 which pays homage to Ladysmith Black Mambazo and which he described as by far his proudest moment.

Besides theatre and film, Mhlongo was instrumental in setting up the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park Authority’s Heritage Site Cultural Programme between 2001 and 2004. Mhlongo is still based in KwaMashu, and is still running the KwaMashu Community Advancement Projects (K-CAP) which has won awards and has become an internationally acclaimed organisation.