Tucked away in the heart of the Kayamandi township, set against the backdrop of the Stellenbosch mountains, is where you will find the lively Amazink theatre-restaurant. In fact, with its colourful walls and large white letters spelling “Wamkelekile” painted on the front of the building, this jewel on the corner of Masitandane and Hani Road is hard to miss.
“Wamkelekile” translates as “Welcome” – and Amazink and the bustling streets of Kayamandi do indeed exude a warm and welcome atmosphere. Children laugh and play outside in the streets, friendly dogs run up to greet visitors, and somewhere in the background someone is playing music. The soulful atmosphere is contagious and curiosity lures one into the vibrant hub that is Amazink.
Focusing on a culturally authentic, interactive South African musical and dining experience, Amazink aims to give visitors an unforgettable taste of township culture and cuisine.
Amazink is known to have been South Africa’s first township theatre-restaurant, where visitors enjoy a three-course South African meal followed by a performance by local performers. Think boerewors, mealie pap and chakalaka. Traditional food at its best and local talent that will most definitely take your breath away. Amazink tells the story of a township through the magic of music, and before you know it you will find yourself tapping your feet to the feel-good sounds of the local musicians.
“The unique setting within the township, with a magnificent view of Simonsberg from the amphitheatre, the ability to host indoor and outdoor events, and the food and the culture all make Amazink special,” explains business partner of Amazink, Markus Coetsee.
According to Amazink’s website it is a place where “sights and tastes of South Africa are brought together to create an unforgettable experience that will capture your imagination and, as the moon rises over the mountains outside, the drumbeat calls to every heart …”
“The fact that Amazink brings people together from different backgrounds and cultures makes it truly South African, as was so evident when we watched the Rugby World Cup final together there a couple of weeks ago and everyone spontaneously burst into “Shosholoza” when Cheslin Kolbe scored his try,” Markus explains.
“Kayamandi” translates to “home sweet home”, or “nice home” in Xhosa, “kaya” meaning “home” and “mnandi” meaning “nice” – and Amazink proves just that. Amazink proves that this is the place where people from all walks of life can come together and truly feel at home. Amazink is open to people of all races and cultures. Wamkelekile – everyone is welcome.
Markus explains that Amazink in its current format was started by Jan Viviers and a few business partners in 2010.
“Before that it used to be a tavern and an eatery, but Jan went to great lengths to develop the property into its current format and to launch the dinner and theatre venue, first in partnership with Barnyard Theatre and in later years with Woordfees.”
It was about two years ago that Markus and born and bred Kayamandi resident Odwa Nomavuka took over Amazink.
“Odwa and I became involved two years ago after the venue was closed for a few months and the owners at that stage were looking for possible routes going forward,” he says.
Their mutual interest in community development led them to wanting to collaborate on a project for a while, and Amazink was the perfect opportunity.
“We had dreamt about a coffee shop in the township of Kayamandi that could serve as a meeting place for locals, and could serve as a bridge-building tool between communities. We then reached an agreement with Jan Viviers whereby we would collaborate going forward, but Odwa and I would run with operations and vision.”
In addition to the inside dining and performing area, Amazink also has an outside area with an amphitheatre and braai area that is also used for events and performances. Over the past few years they have worked hard to expand the Amazink initiative and make their visions a reality.
“Amazink Coffee therefore came to life, together with the relaunch of Amazink Live and more recently Amazink Unplugged – open mic sessions for artists to showcase and grow in their skills,” says Markus.
“And apart from the coffee shop, dinner/theatre events and Amazink Unplugged, we also host drum circles, year-end functions and rent the venue out for corporate events.”
There is definitely no stopping this dynamic duo, who only dream of even more bigger things to come. For them it is important that Amazink should contribute positively to the community and work at bridging the gap between the different communities within Stellenbosch.
Sharing a positive township experience with visitors is at the forefront of Amazink’s mission and this is clear from the moment one walks through the doors. Amazink celebrates diversity and colour, as is evident from the colourful walls and decor all the way through to the colourful personalities, cuisine and cultures represented.
As they put it in their own words, celebrating life and laughter.
For more information visit Amazink’s website or Facebook page.
- Photos: provided