EDUCATION AFRICA is a South African non-profit organisation that has over 22 years of experience working together with disadvantaged communities to address the issue of inequality in education, a legacy left behind by the system of Apartheid. Our motto is: “Making real change happen; poverty alleviation through education”. Currently we run 10 projects that address various educational needs in South Africa from early childhood development workshops to scholarship funding; from the distribution of bicycles to school children who would otherwise have to walk long distances to school to maths buddy programmes facilitating improved mathematical literacy.
One of these ventures is The International Arts and Culture Project. There are a variety of endeavours that fall under this main project: International Marimba Tours; The Annual International Marimba and Steelpan Festival and more recently the establishment of Marimba Hubs in under-resourced areas and the annual fund-raising concert: Sounds of Celebration held at Emperor’s Palace and hosted in partnership with the Sydenham Highlands North Shul and Community Centre. One of the chief aims of a marimba hub is to give children a safe place to be after school hours. Here they can be engaged in productive and creative activity rather than spending after school hours on the street where they are at risk in numerous ways.
As a direct result of the first Sounds of Celebration concert in 2013 a Marimba Hub was opened at Ithute Primary School in Alexandra near Sandton. Ithute Primary School is also the sister school of King David Primary School, Linksfield Johannesburg. In 2014 both King David Linksfield and Ithute Primary started their marimba programmes. At the end of April 2015 another remarkable initiative by King David Linksfield started. Grade 3 children from both King David Linksfield and their sister school Ithute Primary in Alexandra, began meeting every Wednesday afternoon to play marimbas! 30 children aged 9 and 10 are learning to share music and create harmony in our beautiful but racially scourged South Africa. These children are making friends through music and are creating bonds that hopefully will transcend racial boundaries.
This year, the 2nd Sounds of Celebration concert held in March saw King David Linksfield performing alongside The John Wesley Community Centre Marimba Band from Etwatwa on the East Rand as the pre-concert entertainment. The John Wesley Community Centre Marimba Band had just returned from a highly successful tour to the United Kingdom with Education Africa. A great friendship struck up between these two bands as they watched each other perform and within minutes of them getting to know each other the John Wesley Marimba Band was encouraging the novice King David Linksfield Marimba Band to dance and interact with them when they performed.
This year, Education Africa is proud to present the 4th International Marimba and Steelpan Festival, taking place on the 1st and 2nd August 2015. King David Linksfield is partnering with their new John Wesley Community Centre Marimba Band friends to compete in the category “strictly classical”. They will be playing a medley of tunes by the great composer Beethoven! The two bands are working on the music in their own communities and will practise together to hone their final performance! The combined band of grade 3s of King David Linksfield and Ithute Primary will also be competing together in the “open large ensemble” category.
The Sounds of Celebration concert and the opening of (thus far) two marimba hubs has resulted in remarkable partnerships. The Jewish youth of King David Linksfield have benefited enormously from meeting and performing with their far more experienced peers from the John Wesley Marimba Band which has twice travelled with Education Africa to the UK. They have graciously welcomed their novice contemporaries from the King David Marimba Band guiding them through the art of dancing with their instruments and initiating them into the marimba community.
This year the Sounds of Celebration concert brought together 150 children from 11 different institutions and schools, performing in 14 acts on a variety of instruments, a choir, gumboot dancers and Jewish singing sensation Choni G all on a single stage. If that single event gave us the inspiration for the possibility of social cohesion then these ongoing partnerships prove that peaceful harmony can endure both through and beyond the music created. These children are living, breathing symphonies of hope and optimism and are forging the path forward, creating a world where we are all citizens together in fellowship and goodwill.
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Nelson Mandela
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Issued by JT Communication Solutions of Behalf of Education Africa International Marimba and Steelpan Festival – www.internationalmarimbafestival.org