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#Heroes Buhle Sithela brings pop-up cinema to Cape Town Townships

Creating a safe space for kids in the townships of Cape Town, with the dream of bringing a cinema to his community.

At the age of 21, Buhle Sithela, brought pop-up cinema to the kids of his township, Khayelitsha. Four years later, Buhle still brings the best animations and South African feature films. Vuma pop-up cinema has expanded to other townships including KwaLanga, Gugulethu, and others.

I was working as a crew assistant, and that helped me to know everything about setup. I thought to myself, why don’t I bring this to the townships.

Buhle studied Event Management at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology but due to financial constraints, he dropped out. He did not give up, instead he looked for internships. His first internship was at Cape Town Drive-In and that’s when he saw the need to bring the pop-up cinema into his community. “I was working as a crew assistant, and that helped me to know everything about setup. I thought to myself, why don’t I bring this to the townships.” says Buhle. He soon realized it wasn’t going to be an easy journey since the equipment can be quite expensive.

The only way to raise money to buy the equipment was to start a dustbin cleaning service. He then gathered other young men in his community to help him wash dustbins and charge R50 per month.

The money went into paying stipends and he saved the rest to buy the projector, sound, and other equipment that would make it possible for him to start his pop-up cinema.

It was not smooth sailing. At first, his family were skeptical but now his mother is on board and helps prepare meals for the kids. He also manages to hire people from his community to help him with his weekly Vuma Pop-Up cinema set-ups.

Buhle Sithela's dream is to take Vuma Pop-Up cinemas to rural areas in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. He hopes he will one day own a van and expand his business so he can hire more people. “I want to reach communities where it's nearly impossible to set up cinemas,” says Buhle.

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