Backroom Mentality Launches Space For Artists in Tembisa

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A group of friends,  called Backroom Mentality, have launched a space for creatives in Tembisa, a township in the East of Johannesburg. The group have been operational for years in the township.  However, it was only officially launched on Sunday 1 November 2020.

Over thirty creatives attended on the cold, wet weather. One of the co-founders of Backroom Mentality, Sifiso Nene, was overwhelmed by the number of people who attended.

Another co-founders, Banele Mashinini, said artists in townships were “stigmatised”. He cites this as being one of the reasons for the formation of Backroom Mentality. Using an example of interactions in mainstream media, he said people in the townships had to connect in order to break out. Without interacting with other creatives – musicians, for example have nowhere to showcase their music, Mashinini said.

“We’re tired of being stigmatised,” he said. “If you’re alone, you have music in the studio…. [you need] that plug, that connection.”

Another co-founder, Gladwell Sello, echoed the same sentiment of connection and collaboration. “We believe in collaboration,” he said.

The co-founders went to school together. Backroom Mentality started as a meme, he said, and it’s located in the Matikweni section of Tembisa, at his mother’s house in one of the “backrooms”. Artists will enjoy free Wi-Fi, and can use the place as their office, he said.

“People can come work, be productive,” Nene said. “Not bazobhemi’nsango (smoke marijuana).”

Among the creatives who attended the launch were photographers, musicians, writers, advertisers, marketers and fashionistas.

A creative who goes by the name Boss G said that during weekdays he runs a construction company, and focuses on his music on weekends.

“During the week, I have a construction company,” he said. “On weekends, I push music.”


This article was submitted on 4 November 2020. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (, and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article

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