Daylin Prins grew up in Lantana, a community outside Paarl, South Africa, which is riddled with gangsterism.

Many young people in this community grow up in negative and uninspiring situations.

Life was not different for Daylin. His mother passed away due to skin cancer and his dad was never present in his life, leaving him without direction.

At the age of 15, Daylin fell in with the wrong crowd. He got involved with a gang and they would roam the area close to Tiffany’s Community Centre (TCC), always on the lookout to commit acts like arson, theft or vandalism.

It was also at this age that he dropped out of Paulus Joubert Secondary School and the gang became his life. Their motto was “no mercy” because nothing and nobody was safe from their destructive behaviour.

The Invitation That Changed His Life

In 2017, a drama teacher at the Monte Christo Miqlat Drama and Writing School, Gaireyah Fredericks, invited Daylin and his friends into the safe space at Tiffany’s Community Centre.

She asked if they were interested in writing poems or doing theatre and music. This intrigued Daylin because he was always curious about the TCC building.

I used to vandalise everything around TCC, and here they were asking me to come in and involve myself in something good. I have always dreamt of writing music and this felt like a great opportunity to follow my dream,” says Daylin.

Daylin started to spend more time at TCC. He got absorbed in rehearsals and acting and this shifted his focus from gangsterism to something more positive. He cut all ties with wrong acquaintances and stayed away from people that could influence him negatively.

Discovering and Honing His Talent

The theatre group at TCC started working on a drama piece titled Hanne innie lig, voete oppie grond. They performed at various events and won the best script award at a 2017 competition hosted by the Western Cape Department of Sport and Culture.

According to Gaireyah, Daylin’s confidence levels grew stronger and attracted light into his life.

He started believing in himself and saw the potential he possesses,” says Gaireyah.

I only show them what is already inside their hearts. We are all precious gems, we just need some guidance toward the right direction,” she added.

Daylin began writing poems, since his biggest dream is to be a rapper. Through TCC he also got to meet his number one hero, the Afrikaans rapper, HemelBesem.

Spreading Hope through Rap

Daylin has always been creative and this was his opportunity to combine rap and poetry to create positive messages in his mother tongue, Afrikaans.

“When I rap, I think of my mother and of the type of legacy I would like to leave behind one day,” says Daylin.

He is now also the lead actor in one of the centre’s new productions, Voetspore. He plays Mannetjies, a boy whose life story is quite similar to his own.

Daylin broke into spontaneous rap during this interview. Here are the lyrics in his home language, Afrikaans:

“Die Almagtige Vader leef binne my;

Die Bybel is ‘n storie en vir ons geskryf;

Jy moet jou naaste lief hê soos jou eie lyf;

Al beteken dit die duiwel gooi sy goeters in jou ways;

Jy moet sterk staan

En jy moenie vergeet om te pray

Die Here is my herder; ek wil by die Here bly;

Ek is een van daai manne

Wat Sy Woord wil versprei;

Jy moet net kan praat

Dan is die storm verby.

The MCM drama school showed me how to earn respect by doing positive and uplifting things, and by living out your talent,” says the rapper who seems to have a bright musical future ahead.

Photographs and original words by Marzahn Botha.