Monday, July 23, 2007

Wits Choir guest of the King of Bafokeng

Up to date…
Since 1994, the Wits Choir is under the direction of Dalene Hoogenhoot, one of South African best choir conductors. The choir has traveled a lot and has always brought back in the country items from its culture-exchange. So far, the Choir as traveled to Argentina, Kenya, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and last December in Szech Republic. Its repertoire is much diversified. The Choir performs traditional, classic, secular and spiritual songs in languages such as English, French, Spanish, Swahili, Latin, Xhosa, Zulu, Tswana, Afrikaans, Venda, Sutu and many others. Three words which may define the best this choir are; Unique, Melodious and Energetic. Apparently, one of its strength should be its multiculturalism and its racial embracement. The color of skin doesn’t matter in the choir. White, black, colored, Asians, and Africans constitute its members. Musically, this is one of the best choirs in the country. The Choir performs in academic meetings, international conferences, birthdays, weddings, funerals and all kind of functions. Wherever this choir goes, it portrays and reflects what should be the new multiracial South Africa.
Wits Choir connected...
The Royale Bafokeng is one of the wealthiest tribe in the country. Most African presidents in visit in this country have paid visit to the Bafokeng territory as to acknowledge its success in social corporate responsibility enforcement toward mining companies. The Bafokeng territory is a large wild space with small towns and mining plants. Wherever you are you can see efforts to up lift local communities. Many projects are under way but educational-projects seem to have taken priorities on the municipality agenda. Recently, the King of Bafokeng and his commitee has acquires the service of Mr Ian McLachlan who has worked for many years as headmaster of Saint Stithians Boy’s college (one of leading boys school in Gauten). Commissioned by the King, Mr. Ian McLachlan has designed a project in improvement of education of something like ninety schools under his supervision. For this cause, a group of experienced teachers has resigned from Saint Stithians and moved to Rustenburg. It’s in this perspective that Wits Choir have been contacted to give its support.
Wits Choir's Journey in Bafokeng territory...
We arrived at Bakubung Lodge a five start***** hotel (King’s guests-lodge) at 6pm on Monday after leaving Joburg at 3pm. We have been advice by the tour committee that the King wanted an exceptional treatment for us and that wasn’t a joke.
Reaching the main gate of Bakubung lodge we realized that this was not the same type of lodges we saw along our road. From the gate to the reception is 200meters of a zigzag way up the mountain. Once up, we had a fantastic panoramic view with nothing in the surrounding then mountains and animals in park. This lodge has its own tour 4X4 cars, its own security guard and all services required in such circumstance. Once in our beds-rooms, we all have been amazed about its glamorous inside. Here residents have high design beds, furnishers and bathroom. They have DSTV on flat screen, fridge, electronic safe and optional local and international calls. Each bedroom has a balcony which leads to a luminous swimming pool, Jacuzzi and bar-pool table. The lodge is surrounded by parks. Here birds and monkey usually feel free to pay you a visit in case you leave your door open.
It’s obvious that we have been told that breakfasts and dinners were free. Those among us who like food got lost as a 30meters table has been dressed every morning and night with strange and healthy food. Everything was of an exceptional quality at which extend that we felt a morale obligation to ask for I much it would cost us if we should come back with friends and girlfriends. The answer we heard just made us laugh and stopped straight our hopes. The price of one night during the week for a single bedroom is 1850 R and 2650 R for bedroom with two beds. Choir members have traveled a lot but no one could ever afford such high price accommodations. Shocked, we realised why few people we met there were either old-white couple, Japanese or Chinese businessman.
Wits Choir performs in Rustenburg...
On Tuesday morning we toured in three schools with the “Spoonproof” a choir from Yale University (USA) and performed together a night concert at the Civic Theater of Rustenburg. We shared value time with them before they left for Cap town the following day while we were on road for a solo tour in three more schools. We have enjoyed each performance. We in Wits Choir believe that we have something special that can give hope and transform lives. Therefore, before children, parents or officials, the choir still gives its best.
The cleavage between white and black is still strong in Rustenburg city. As one can imagine, one of Wits Choir aims when going there was to break barriers and show off how should look the new South Africa. As usually, in such environment we are used to defiant look but once we sing one or two items we can then start to see some facial smiles. Our ending is always the same as we finish our performance with a non-stop applaud of the audience as people look so amazed.
Indeed, singing some items in Tswana, English and Afrikaans did open to us people’s heart in Bafokeng. As at the end of each performance we got surrounded by parents, teachers and scholars who wanted just to present their appreciation. People we don’t know stop us in our way just to tell us that we do quality work. This is inevitably one of the reasons which stick each and every one of us to this choir; this feeling to have impacted on someone’s life.
Wits Choir still have more to offer and finding an efficient producer is our main objective this year. The University management is like telling us that it has many things to care about then a bunch of singers. But what the University doesn’t understand is that Wits Choir is one of its organisations which represent the most the Witwatersrand vision of openness. All other universities choirs are either black or white. Wits Choir is the only choir which has opted for diversity of race and culture. This is its value and its strength. Unfortunately, till now the chancellor and is committee never get it right. I am just scared that as more and more projects and institutions start finding interest in the Choir, we may change soon our name and belong to another cause.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Does he fit to Govern? Let the Populace decides

Fit to Govern: the Native Intelligence of Thabo Mbeki, by Ronald Suresh Roberts has been launched at the 2nd annual Cape Town Book Fair. Since, critics still rise against this Roberts’ work.
We have done in a short time for poor people in this country more than Hugo Chavez in Venezuela….if we don’t see it is because the publishing world want to tell us what to believe”, says Ronald S. Roberts.

During “Interface” a Sunday 19:30 SABC discussion-program, Mr. Roberts explained himself. Is this a tool for Mbeki electoral agenda; I don’t know. But I think it is questionable to see how publishers and newspapers’ editors are vigorously telling us that this book doesn’t deserve credit from public. Who gave press practitioners mandate to decide for everyone? By saying that Roberts covers more on Mbeki’s policy on HIV and ZIM instead of discussing also about the economy… isn’t that an attempt in censoring by defining the content? What about freedom of expression?
Personally, I don’t see any problem if Mbeki should find some good singers among his friends and try to fight back criticisms because even the publishing world plays drum sometimes for some hidden forces. Democracy means also that no one should dictate what to believe in.
As we are at the task of writing a book with my friends on what we have learnt out the work place training, I realise more and more how the press business worldwide is conservative. Neologism is not welcomed. I wish we stand steady once our idea is inevitably exposed to what I can call a “Professional Red-pen treatment”.