Popular musician, drummer and theatre producer and play writer, Atlas Philani Duma established Sagiya Foundation out of his love for both art and entertainment and his commitment and passion for community development.
Having launched the Dim-Dep Enviro Blitz under the umbrella of Sagiya, Duma is now busy with rehearsals for the Dim-Dep: Faces of Environmental Success – an ongoing interactive and creative theatre production.
Duma is the founder, author and director of the musical.
The title Dim-Dep is inspired by the sound of that is made by the African drum when hit using hands (dim dep, dim dep), and is also the abbreviation of “Drum and Indigenous Music Development Project”.
His passion for the environment and culture is evident in his theatre, writing and music initiatives.
Duma is the sole director of Sagiya Foundation. He graduated from the former Natal Technikon in 1999 with a National Diploma in Light Music.
Duma’s accolades include being declared a KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Legend of Jazz and a host of other awards.
The Dim-Dep musical received an award in 2016 by the Ethekwini City Council’s Durban Solid Waste (DSW) for being the best Community Environmentalist group.
Speaking about the importance of Dim-Dep Duma said he wanted to inspire change in the public’s attitude towards environmental issues.
“I noticed that people are not aware about the importance of taking care of the environment but rather focus on how they can make money from it. Through Dim-Dep we want to raise awareness and remind the general public about the need to be self-sufficient, to take care of the environment and reduce the carbon footprint.
“The production stresses that taking care of the environment is not just a middle-class issue but a dilemma that involves everyone. We are also teaching small communities to integrate their behaviour towards fighting pollution and addressing issues. Not leaving out that sustaining the environment is everyone’s issue,” said Duma.
Duma said the audience should look forward to having a refreshingly unique experience with the Dim-Dep cast and expect to be taken on an adventure.
“We will be taking the production to the local townships as well as conducting mall and community activations. The audience should anticipate to be taken on a great adventure from the Stone Age into the modern era,” explained Duma.
“I have received feedback from various schools with regards to the marks of children who attend the live shows. They highlight that there has been an improvement in their results and their understanding of the importance of preserving the environment,” he added.
Apart from running the Dim-Dep Environ Blitz, Duma’s organisation conducts community engagement initiatives and motivational talks in schools to educate pupils about the importance of preserving our planet throughout the year.
Duma hails from Bulwer, a small township in Pietermaritzburg. After he completed his matric, he relocated to KwaMashu.
He was a member of the band Renaissance for five years.
After leaving the band, he joined a production called We are Alive Kids with Edmund Mhlongo as the lead for two years at Kwa Mashu Community Advancement Projects (K-CAP).
After the production, he started his own musical band titled Sagiya Band.
Some of Duma’s other achievements include the 2002 Old Mutual Jazz Encounters Award for Best Composer.
Taking Dim-Dep national for the first time has not been easy according to Duma.
“Dim-Dep has been only done at a provincial level and not nationally. Because of shortage of sponsorships and limited resources it never reached out the way I wanted it to. We are now hoping to change that,” he said.
Dim-Dep features a multitude of musical genres that changes the historical landscape: from Afro Blues to mainstream Jazz, Bebop, Cool Jazz, Modern Jazz, Pop, Hip-Pop, Maskandi, and House music.