A Little More



Established in 2013, Eyethu Lifestyle Centre was founded by Mandla Tshabalala.

As a premier art and entertainment venue, Eyethu is a cultural hub in Soweto - a cosmopolitan area that is home to more than 2.5 million people and is renowned for setting trends as well as its plethora of cultural treasures. The name “Eyethu” (which means “our own”) emanates from the historical background associated with the area in which the venue is situated in Mofolo, Soweto. Eyethu Cinema was the first black-owned cinema that opened in 1969. Through the years the cinema became a hub of culture and entertainment where the latest films were shown and where local and international live shows were shown. The cinema also became a springboard for then emerging stars who are now well-renowned artists such as Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.


Founded in 1969, Eyethu Cinema is an iconic venue in the heart of Soweto, in Mofolo.

In addition to showcasing the latest local films, the venue, which was the first black owned cinema also served as a performance centre for the crème de la crème of black entertainment. Established at the height of segregation in South Africa, Eyethu Cinema had the likes of the “Father of Black Theatre” Gibson Kente and Ladysmith Black Mambazo launching their fledgling careers on its premises, while it also doubled as a cultural hub frequented by defiant international performers. International stars such as Percy Sledge, Brook Benton and Timmy Thomas graced the stage and entertained the masses while also lending their voices towards ending apartheid. In its heyday Eyethu was known to screen films that were later banned by the then Apartheid government.

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Even though the cinema ceased operating, its impact on the community of Soweto has never waned. Through Eyethu, the Tshabalala family is rebranding this cultural hub by establishing a precinct that will contribute towards the promotion of the arts ecosystem in Soweto. As Eyethu Lifestyle Centre we host an array of functions, including private, corporate and government functions. Through a range of initiatives and events such as art exhibitions, wine tasting evenings, live band performances, night markets and book fairs, we seek to be the ultimate art and entertainment venue in Soweto. Through collaborations with various stakeholders within the creative economy within Soweto and beyond, it’s our aim as Eyethu Lifestyle Centre to encourage cultural exchange with the greater African diaspora on the continent as well as on a global scale. We’ve established ourselves as the premier wine lifestyle venue in Soweto and through Eyethu Cellar Door we seek to create more networks and to develop a platform for African food pairing with wines. Eyethu Gallery is at the forefront of driving the contemporary arts sector within Soweto. We aim to invest further in the development of a vibrant creative economy as well as that of young talent in the creative industry. In the long term we envision our brand as a world-renowned arts and entertainment venue that anchors the nucleus of tourist attractions, playing a pivotal role in the sustainable development of the township economy.
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Specialising in screening films that featured local film talents including the likes of Cynthia Shange, Ken Gampu, Joe Mafela and Sophie Mgcina, Eyethu Cinema was also a cultural sanctuary during a tumultuous time in South Africa. With a seating capacity of 1200, Eyethu Cinema cemented its place in the hearts of the community of Soweto by also giving back. Funding initiatives were created to donate and assist old age, disabled and children’s homes. Its pioneering founder Ephraim Batana Tshabalala was instrumental in instilling the culture of cinema in Soweto when 16mm film projectors were dominant in schools, backyard garages and community halls. Through Tshabalala’s dedication Eyethu Cinema became a vital cog in the development of arts and culture in the township. Since its doors closed in the early 1990s when black people were allowed to freely integrate, Eyethu has remained standing –with its walls being repurposed by street artists. The Tshabalala family are restoring Eyethu Cinema, priming it to be a central attraction in an arts and cultural precinct that celebrates the vibrant heritage of Soweto. Housing a treasure trove of culturally significant historical moments within its walls, Eyethu Cinema tells the story of “our own” and steps into the future as a vital and celebrated landmark in the Sowetan cultural landscape.






Our Founder

Mandla "Bra Mandla"


063 616 1038

"Art, music, food, tourism and wine" - five themes that drive the spirit of Eyethu Lifestyle Centre according to founder Mandla Tshabalala. With extensive experience as an entrepreneur, Mandla Tshabalala envisions Eyethu Lifestyle Centre as one of the key stakeholders within the township creative economy. Through a range of collaborations, Eyethu Lifestyle Centre will be at the forefront of highlighting the need for cultural awareness as well as driving investment in authentic local cuisine, culture and art. Through Eyethu he envisions a growth in the support of local creatives who are active about developing and recognizing "our own". Eyethu will be the driving force behind cultural exchange programmes within the creative sector, with the ultimate aim of fostering sustainable partnerships between Eyethu and viable cultural initiatives. Eyethu also seeks to promote the cultural tourism sector by creating a range of networks within the township creative economy.
Make your vision so clear that your fears become irrelevant.

Marketing Manager

Lerato "Lovers"


076 546 6599

Lerato, granddaughter of Batana Ephraim Tshabalala who built Soweto's first cinema, is passionate about changing African stereotypes by venturing into African people's lives to uncover a truth that speaks to communities, cultures and magical stories of life, love and relationships that unite us as a people. She is the founder of Next Generation Media, a company that specializes in generating content for all online platforms. As the Eyethu Lifestyle Centre's Online Marketing Administrator, Miss Tshabalala is in the process of producing and directing content for Eyethu TV, with the aim of supporting businesses and community members based in Soweto.
Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.