GangStars Inspire Honesty and Optimism
All the staff at the Gangstar Café are former prisoners that have made the decision to change their ways and follow a more honest inspirational path. The feeling in the air is of positivity, perseverance and honesty. It’s a dope place filled with faces of all different colours, shapes and sizes. Rappers jump in, producers pass by while filmmakers record their latest interviews. It’s an open and free spot that welcomes everyone with open arms, preaching the word that all can be forgiven and that anyone’s future can change.
All the aesthetics are simple and sweet, almost everything black and white. The black and whites in the air create a feeling of life’s choices and changes, but if you stick true, these choices can change your story to be one that is reflective of your soul. It’s a great spot for students, start-ups or saints, especially considering the free Wi-Fi and cheap filter coffees.
Coffee & Food:
The coffee is real good too, tasting quite earthy and leaving a real sweet aftertaste in your mouth. It’s an easy drinkin’ coffee and at R20 a flat white, it’s a real steal. The food is good too, Alex gobbled up his minty chocolate explosion in an energetic elegant style saying it tasted “decadently dark.” They’ve also got some tasty sarmies and muffins on offer, if you’re feeling peckish.
I sat down with Shepard and Xola to get the inside scoop, to try understand the fire behind the soul of the former gangsters. Both guys are brilliant baristas behind the bar but also guys with great hopes and dreams. Shepard was born in Khayelitsha but after feeling ‘ashamed’ about being illiterate, turned to gangsterism for a different type of fame. He then began drug trafficking, bringing cocaine into South Africa through his stomach. He was eventually caught and sent to prison but this was where his life began to change. Shepard told me: “For others, prison can be a curse but for me it was a blessing, a disguised blessing.” Shepard began to learn the word of God and began to preach it to his fellow inmates. Shepard is now working towards his matric and is so excited to be furthering his education.
Xola got involved with drugs from a young age, smoking weed, tik and buttons, which led him to a life of housebreaking. He got caught twice by the police and was sentenced to jail and years behind bars at Pollsmoor. However, a day after giving his life to Jesus Christ, his housebreaking trial was delayed for three days and then finally withdrawn. Since that day, Xola has been preaching the word of God, being a youth leader and house father at various halfway houses in Cape Town. Xola is now loving working as a barista saying: “I get the opportunity to be with the people, to cheer the people up with a smile in the morning.”
If you’re feeling peckish or you’re feeling blue, the boys at Gangstar Café will have your back. Pop into 65 Main Road, Mowbray for a true tasty tea, coffee or a chittering chat.
Writer: Sebastian Daniels
Photographer: Alex Thompson
Check out GangStar’s website and what they do at: http://www.gangstar-ent.org/