'Zip Zap changed my life' - young performers reflect on leaving streets behind

The Zip Zap Circus School has transformed the lives of many young people in the Cape.

The oldest circus in Cape Town has devoted itself to inspiring and empowering young people to do better for themselves and society.

Budding circus performers and former street kids Phelani Ndakrokra and Jacobus Claasen opened up about how Zip Zap changed the course of their lives.

The 22-year-old Ndakrokra was born and raised on the streets and moved into a shelter in Salt River after 15 years on the streets.

That is when he was introduced to the Zip Zap circus in 2010.

He has since become an instructor and programme coordinator, specialising in juggling, acrobatics, straps and the Cyr wheel.

Read: Zip Zap Circus School helping Cape kids soar to greater heights

I grew up with a life that no kid would want. It was difficult and I had to choose between right and wrong.

Phelani Ndakrokra, performer at Zip Zap circus

I was born on the street and stayed there for 15 years.

Phelani Ndakrokra, performer at Zip Zap circus

It was life-changing. They introduced me to the circus in 2010. That was when I was free and felt like a kid again.

Phelani Ndakrokra, performer at Zip Zap circus

Also read: How Zip Zap Circus School got to perform for Obama (and what's to come)

Claasen also grew up on the streets in Paarl before moving to a shelter in Wellington and later relocating to Cape Town.

He specialises in flying, clowning and acrobatics.

We had to make tough choices between drugs and a healthy life. It wasn't easy taking care of yourself while living on the streets.

Jacobus Claasen, performer at Zip Zap circus

I used to be part of the gangs when I was out on the street. One day I saw something happen and I told myself I'm going to make a choice.

Jacobus Claasen, performer at Zip Zap circus

Since I came to Cape Town, I told myself that I don't want anything to do with drugs or gangsterism.

Jacobus Claasen, performer at Zip Zap circus

I got to be in Zip Zap and Zip Zap changed my life.

Jacobus Claasen, performer at Zip Zap circus

The choices we've made in life were a success for both of us.

Jacobus Claasen, performer at Zip Zap circus

The pair spoke about the circus skills and life skills that they have learnt through Zip Zap and the international exposure they've received through their performance.

Take a listen to their inspiring stories:


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