Bulelani Ngcako grew up on the street looking after himself as his mother was not able to take care of him.
Despite lacking a home, the ‘street-child’ still attended school, he enrolled late but still excelled in every subject. The regular street-fair-like drugs, alcohol, breaking into people cars and other criminal activities never really took his interest.
The young boy saved up money that he had received from all the odd jobs he was doing and bought a skateboard… the thing that would kick off a series of changes in his life.
“I used some of the money I had from helping out vendors and bought myself a skateboard. I would skate my life away, everyday until I was seen by a group of tourist who where staying at a backpackers and invited to surf with them.”
From that day on, every weekend Ngcako went down to Muizenberg to watch all the surfers. The friendly teen spent so much time there that he became friends with most of the surf shop owners. They all got to know his story and gave him the resources so that he could surf for free.
During highschool the talented young South African attended computer classes at Herschel girls high school every Wednesday, and later he was invited to a program called Molo Songololo where he met Thuthukile Zuma, we became friends but life happened.
“I matriculated in 2008 and I applied for entry into four universities across the country for an LLB degree, but my applications were declined because I didn’t have a home address.”
During this mist of confusion and disappointment, the Dankie Kasi idea came to his mind… he spent the next few years in various jobs, living off and on the streets and trying to find his way.
A breakthrough came in 2010 when he graduated from a life skills and computer literacy and office management course. After graduating and with no work experience he found a job as a runner at a club eventually returning to college and graduated. He got a job as a taxi coordinator. Bulelani is using his job to save money for his brand.
“Dankie Kasi is a T-shirt business initiative I established, which I intend to grow and sell other products such as hoodies, track tops and so on. I have always had a love of fashion, style and grace as I termed it, though I could never afford any clothing. 'Dankie' means thank you in Afrikaans, an expression of gratitude. Kasi – is short for lokasie. It is also a South African national slang for 'community'.”
“I eventually was able to save up for accommodation at the shelter and I was given an opportunity to sell my Dankie Kasi T-shirts and journals every Sunday at the Dreyer Street Market. I hope to study in the near future and be a symbol of hope to those who have lost hope,” Bulelani said.
Dankie Kasi is a brand established to sell pride memorabilia. The brand promotes the image and identity of where we as South Africans come from, to both local and international audiences. It is dedicated to the age of happiness and intended for people who take pride in their appearance as well as their communities.
Bulelani opens his Dankie Kasi store at the Cavendish Square, Dreyer Street Market every Sunday between 8am and 4pm. His T-shirts are sold for R100 and the journals and notebooks are sold for R20. Anyone interested in supporting his business and his cause can contact Bulelani on 061 284 8032.
Written by: Brent Lindaque