by Wakhe Sebenza
Friday, 05 April 2019
A day filled with hope, solutions and the unexpected for Umbelebele secondary school
If the misconception amongst parents in public schools that education is the responsibility of the school and the government is still a “thing” well that’s no longer the case for Umbelebele Secondary School. For lack of a better word, a “special committee” set in a round table discussion with the school principal, Mr Khanyile about the challenges that the school is facing, most importantly the solutions to those challenges and bringing hope to children to achieve the unexpected. When the principal mentioned they are aiming for at least 80% from a 33% they achieved last year, it wasn’t a joke, it all seemed possible. Broken windows and old buildings with no lights are not going stop the school from achieving what they are aiming for.
Scratch the term “Special committee” we used earlier before we get caught in politics of special committee that no one knows about or no one elected, let me tell you about the kind of people who gathered in that round table. The renowned Visual Activist, Prof. Sir Zanele Muholi took with them alumnis of Umbelebele Secondary School and also brought their friends who can be able to assist as well as Inkanyiso crew, a non-profit organization. The group sat with the school Principal in order come up with programs that can assist the students with the skills that they need to eventually become successful and productive participants of their society. With the understanding that a nation that does not take care of its youth has no future and does not deserve one, as a South African anti-apartheid politician and revolutionary OR Tambo once said the African proverb: “it takes a village to raise a child.” This is coming to life for Umbelebele Secondary School. Take this journey with us, be part of it, let’s grow together, looking forward to what we will create together.
Signing out for now: Wakhe Sebenza
Saturday, 06 April 2019
Another approach to Environmental Education
It is our responsibility to take care of the environment. We must protect our environment from anything that leads to an unhealthy environment and threatens the health of humans, animals and plants. This has been the lesson for the longest time for a school child falling asleep behind the school desk, awakened by the school bell to get some snacks and let the packet fly all over the school grounds after finishing and we know what that does to our environment.
The truth is; environmental education will never stop just because people don’t care. This is a long-term health threatening issue, which leads us to another approach to this matter and that is where Inkanyiso comes in. It’s a non-profit organization established by the renowned Visual Activist Sir Zanele Muholi.
Of course you wonder, “Where do they fit in now “ when Sir Muholi’s work is presumed for focusing on race, gender and sexuality. Suddenly we learn there are no limits to this Visual Activist, in Celebration of 25 years of Democracy in South Africa, nothing will stop Sir Muholi to do what they do best.
Matric students from Umbelebele Secondary School were taken to Ushaka Marine to allow everyone to explore environmental issues, engage in problem solving and take action to improve the environment. That was not the only lesson for the day; all of them were given cameras and taught the skill of photography. Like any photographer would tell you it has taken them years developing their skills, so how fortunate are these students who are starting photography while they are in Matric? Thanks to Inkanyiso, Thank you Sir Muholi.
Signing out for now: Wakhe Sebenza
Sunday, 07 April 2019
Banyana Banyana vs Jamaica
We are moving closer to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in June and July 2019. In that Women’s World cup spirit, a FIFA international friendly match between South Africa and Jamaica took place at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Sunday the 7th of April 2019.
Class of 2019 from Umbelebele Secondary School had an opportunity to join Inkanyiso organization members to watch the game. I don’t even know how to pen down the excitement on those students, most of them it was their first time being at a stadium.
This may look like “Just for fun” but it was beyond just fun, some of the students were writing during the game while others were taking pictures and of course everyone was slowly becoming a soccer coach. That always happens when you are watching soccer, the feeling that you can do a better job than the people on the field. It was all beautiful to watch, both the match and the students. This also helps them in choosing their career path, it is very important to take these students to different fields to explore the careers out there for them to make better choices.
Banyana Banyana led at 1-0 at half time after a goal from Linda Motlhalo in the 20th minute but the game ended at a draw of 1-1.
Signing out for now Wakhe Sebenza
Monday, 08 April 2019
Another day in Umbelebele Secondary School with Inkanyiso organization, this time we were there for the “spelling bees”, Participants to spelling words orally being the class of 2019. Of course Inkanyiso always delivers more than the promised, therefore it wasn’t only the spelling bee day, guest speakers who are experts in their fields were brought along to encourage and share their expertise with the students.
One of the guest speakers was Ms Ruth Motau, a social documentary photographer influenced by photojournalism and the marginalization of black people and communities. Ruth’s message was clear, if you want to be fulfilled, happy, content, and experience inner-peace and ultimate fulfillment, it’s critical that you follow your dream. Unlike the old days when we were not exposed to a lot of career choices, students of today are fortunate they are exposed to these careers, well not all schools but that is what Inkanyiso is trying to assist Umbelebele secondary school with by bringing experts from different fields to the school.
The legendary musician Winnie Khumalo was also the guest along with her Daughter Rethabile Khumalo who is also a musician. Winnie Khumalo who is a South African Soweto born singer, actress and pop star, shared her journey with the students. Saying she was introduced to the music industry at the tender age of 15 and she has worked with some of the big names in the music industry, including people like the late Brenda Fassie. Questions like how does she handle bad publicity were asked which shows we had young musicians in that class who also want to make it big within the space. Did I mention we actually had musicians from the students? Course yes they sang and we were left in disbelief at how some people just sound angelic.
One last word, can the schools focus more on spelling? The students have lost the ability to spell words correctly and spelling remains the most relentlessly tested of all the literacy skills, but it is the least taught.
Signing out for now Wakhe Sebenza
Tuesday 9 April 2019
Reflecting and compiling a report on work we have done from Day 1, Friday, 5 April 2019 to Day 4.
Wednesday, 10 April 2019
Articulate Africa Book and Art Fair
God created diversity, man created bigotry, who do you trust?
Durban is hosting the 2019 edition of the Articulate Africa Book and Art Affair to celebrate the best authors and artists in South Africa and Africa. This fair also brings together other creative fields such as Crafts, Food and Music. Let’s talk about the seminar I attended this day, it focuses on religious rhetoric that has been frequently used over history to exclude the LGBTQ community from worship. The conversation is created around questions such as, Is it really a sin? Is both society and religion moving towards being more accepting of sexual diversity? What type of challenges are still being experienced? Under the subject: “God created diversity, man created bigotry, who do you trust?”
Meet the Panellists:
Chwayita Ngamlana, B member of LGBTIAQ+ community, author of “If I stay right here,” a book based on abusive relationship she was in for 2 years with her ex girlfriend. Yes, LGBTQ couples also experience dating abuse just like heterosexual couples do, Thank you.
Siya Khumalo, known for his controversial take on current affairs, author of “You Have to be Gay to Know God”, Where he unmasks techniques used by the power-brokers of our time and shows how gay people, in particular, bear the brunt of politicians’ and pastors’ schemes to gain wealth by fleecing the poor and harnessing popular prejudices. He tackles DA vs. ANC, unpacks corrective rape, and African cultures and communities and how these things affect gay people. Splicing in political and religious commentary, and using his own life experiences to make sense of these topics.
These are the only two panelists who made sense, yes there were other panelists who were there but they were not members of the LGBTIAQ+, they couldn’t even say the acronym correctly. I suggest we don’t go there. Those people left me questioning the purpose of that seminar, in my understanding that was to unpack the religious objection of the LGBTIAQ+ and engage in solving that issue, but the Brothers and Sisters in that panel were not about that life. They kept talking about the gospel of love, meaning that God loves everyone but also saying something about standing for the “Truth” and that Ladies and Gents means a man must marry a woman, yep that’s their “truth”. Where does that truth of theirs leave the LGBTIAQ+ community? What exactly were they on that panel for? I was left confused.
We can’t force you to love the LGBTIAQ+ community because we understand what love is and how it works and we can live without being loved by yo., We can love ourselves enough, but can we get some respect from you? Can we be recognized as human beings?
Thursday 11 April
Articulate Africa Book and Art Fair
Getting young people hooked on books
Children are undoubtedly the future builders of the nation. The love for books and reading is a value that should be introduced in children from a young age as literature shapes the way we live. It is our responsibility pass down our knowledge, skill and values to the future generation.
Articulate Africa Book & Art Fair invited young exhibitors to show us that “age isn’t anything but a number”. The panel consisted of the following Children’s books authors:
Lebohang Masango, Author of Mpumi’s Magic Beads, a story about friendship, self-esteem, discovery and beautiful hair in the big city of Joburg. It follows the sudden adventures of Mpumi, Asante and Tshiamo as they see the world around them from new heights and realise all of the fun waiting to be discovered outside of their classroom. Can you already imagine how delightful is this story for Children?
Thabisile Mthethwa of Dudu and Sipho, a kiddies’ brand that focuses on two animation characters of colour. The brand has two main characters: Dudu, a girl with a trusted companion the Calabash; and Sipho, a mischievous boy who has a springing stick that rescues him whenever he gets into trouble. She says Dudu and Sipho are here to tell Afro centric stories that have not been told before, infusing the old with the new. “The beginning of many adventures.
Elinor Sisulu, a human rights activist, political analyst and an author of The day gogo went to vote, a picture book about a historical event of voting for the president of South Africa. It is seen through the eyes of a little girl named Thembi. The story captures the emotion between Thembi and her great grandmother and it covers the election of Nelson Mandela and the struggle to be allowed to vote.
Did you know that we have child authors aswell? Yeap, on the panel also there was an 11-year-old writer Amr Sallie to encourage other young people to read and write as South African Storyteller Ms Gcina Mhlophe said, in order to be a writer you need to be a reader, she also joined later as a panellist who also encourage children to read.
Parents are urged to buy books for children and encourage them to read because that’s one of the challenges our authors are facing when trying to get a publisher, they are told they don’t have a big buying audience. Amongst other challenges they are facing, cost are high to get published which leads to self publish and that’s a challenge on its own getting a book out there in terms of marketing and promotion of the book.