Today most of the music and the art and the life. is gone. But not all of it. Sis’ Oueeneth Ndaba still fights to keep the place alive. She rents rooms for her dressmaking business called Jazz Creations. But she doesn’t make much money from her beautiful Swazi prints and seShoeshoe dresses.
She spends too much of her time trying to help the old musicians.
“1 can never understand this disco stuff,” she says. “Today our children don’t even know the sounds of those old groups that played here. So some of us had this idea. We wanted to start a big jazz band with some of the old timers from those swinging days. So some time back we started the band called the African Jazz Pioneers.”
Ntemi Piliso is the leader of the Jazz Pioneers. And Dorkay house is their home again.
And up on the third floor, music is still flowing (through the veins of Dorkay. About 200 students learn to play piano and big brass horns. And when they play they can see the old posters on the walls of the building. Like the poster that says’ “Come and see Dollar Brand – Non whites on Tuesday and Thursday only.”
The students belong to AMDA – the African Music and Drama Association. AMDA was started by Union Artists back in the fifties – and it is still alive today.
So next time you rush past Dorkay House, stop for a moment. Step inside. You will see a place of history that is old and broken. And you will want to cry inside.
But you will also see that Dorkay still has some blood in its veins. AMDA and people like Oueeneth and Shumi are still fighting on. They are keeping the place alive.