Sunshine cinema sparks conversation in Africa

Posted by Elise Kirsten on 11 September 2018

Sunshine Cinema has a wonderfully upbeat moniker, which is fitting as its purpose is to promote understanding, inclusivity and confidence, by converting ‘solar energy into social impact’.

Since 2013, this solar powered mobile cinema has been screening a carefully chosen selection of African cinema content to a wide cross section of communities across the continent. These mobile movies have made their way through Africa on the back of ‘Lamu the Landy.’ This Landrover has an MLT solar power generator mounted on its roof and permanently installed batteries that charge as the vehicle is driven.

When the Sunshine Cinema arrives at a location, the fold-up screen, speakers and projector are set up and plugged into the solar power from Lamu. Then, up to 300 people get to watch at a time.

It’s not just about giving people who don’t ordinarily have access to a cinema an experience, but each screening is followed by a discussion. These interactive screenings touch on topics such as health rights, discrimination and gender norms.

After an introductory short focusing on climate and wildlife conservation, the films being screened include; Winnie; The WoundStrike a RockI am Not a Witch and other others.

We attended the launch of Sunshine Cinema’s ‘Ignite Your Rights Tour’, hosted by Travel Designer at Just like Pappa in Cape Town. There have already been a number of screenings in Nyanga and Khayelitsha ahead of the tour and next month the mobile cinema moves on to Alice (Eastern Cape), followed by Qwa Qwa (Free State) and Lebowakgomo (Limpopo) in the beginning of November. Fom there it’s on to Kitwe in Zambia and then Kwekwe in Zimbabwe.

In addition to the mobile Sunshine Cinema, the group have miniature mobile cinemas housed in a bright yellow boxes, known as ‘sunboxes’. At each site that they visit they deposit these and employ a Sunbox Ambassador to continue hosting educational screenings with discussions. The ambassador will do these screenings for up to 40 people three times a month for six months, and report on, and document each free screening. Each kit has a sponsored Canon camera, the cinema and a training guide. The ambassador signs a contract, which enforces age restriction rules, no sharing of content with third parties and no charging entrance fees.

We met Mzukisi ‘Parraddox’ Ndabeni a Cape Town Sunbox Ambassador at the launch, who after introducing himself as ‘Parraddox, spelt with two r’s and two d’s’, told us a little about some of the difficulties in trying to achieve anything growing up in a township. ‘No one supports you,’ he said.

Despite the harsh realities and lack of support that he faced as a youth, Pararddox is invested in uplifting those in his community and supporting others. He is involved in teaching drama in addition to his recent Sunbox ambassadorship, for which he is very thankful.

The aim of the Ignite Your Rights Tour is to build a network of youth ambassadors, like Parraddox, who will spark conversation about gender rights and youth dialogue across Southern Africa for the next six months.

Cape Town Sunbox ambassador, Parradox.


Sunshine Cinema has worked with Movies That Matter, The Bertha Foundation, UNAIDS, Open Society Foundations Public Health Program, Childrens Radio Foundation, Waves4Water, Green Peace, WWF, Volkswagen and Red Bull.

Follow the Sunshine Cinema tour on social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.