Update: 23 Walmer Township learners raise SA flag in Germany

JULY 7, 2016

Twenty-three learners from Walmer Township, in Port Elizabeth, who are touring through Germany as part of the Masifunde Youth Choir, are doing very well and flying the South African flag high in Germany, the Masifunde Learner Development said on Thursday.

"As we speak, they are on their way to the last city in Germany before they leave for Switzerland on Sunday," said Laura Klapper at Masifunde Learner Development.

Klapper said that since they left Port Elizabeth on the 25th of June, the learners and their conductors have visited 4 cities in Germany (Bensheim, Lich, Mainz and Berlin) and is now en route to Reutlingen.

"After almost 24 hours of travel, the group was welcomed warmly by their host families in Bensheim where they spent the first 3 days in Germany and got the chance to experience a day at a German school," she said.

"In most of the cities, the choir members stay in small groups with host families, which gives them a deep insight into German culture but helps them to share information about South Africa, too."

Klapper said that the stay in each city highlighted in a big concert. All concerts so far have been exceptionally successful and well-received by the audience, the Masifunde Youth Choir and other choirs involved. Hundreds of people came to each see the Masifunde Youth Choir so far, leaving venues – mainly churches – packed, with people having to stand or sit on the floor. Each concert is free of charge and open to the public.

"So far, all local newspapers have been ecstatic and full of praise for the performances of the youngsters from Walmer," she added.

"After the concert in Bensheim the Bergstraesser Anzeiger wrote: 'Together with the youth choir of the Altes Kurfuerstliches Gymnasium [local high school] the youth presented a very special listening experience. The audience was excited and praised the variety of music styles, the dynamics and the musical quality of both choirs. However, the atmosphere culminated without any doubt when our guests from South Africa entered the stage – emotional, passionate and thrilling.'

"Conducted by Tarryn Mintoor the historical building almost started trembling. Their performances - powerful and tender at the same time – left the audience speechless”, the Giessener Allgemeine Zeitung wrote in reference to the concert in Lich."

Besides their musical exchange with German schools, the choir has also been on some exciting and educational excursions:

  • visit of the Marburg castle and the St Elizabeth Church where they were asked to perform spontaneously in a cathedral older than 750 years, 
  • excursion to the German parliament and the Federal Office for Foreign Affairs in Berlin, 
  • boat cruise through Berlin, 
  • nature hike to “Felsenmeer” (sea of rocks), and 
  • tour through the city of Mainz along the river Rhine.

Whilst on tour, the choir also had the chance to meet and perform for some high-ranked German politicians and Ministers.

What the learners are saying about their tour

Thabiso Flitshane, 15: “It was an interesting experience to sing with other choirs and link our voices together.”

Yonela Maposa, 20: “We really have made friends with our host families and siblings. Some of them even came to our concerts in other cities – that was super cool and motivated me.”

Sibabalwe Komani, 16: "I thoroughly enjoyed all our concerts so far. The audience loved our songs, because they are different to the music they usually listen to. Spending time with my host families has been great, too."

Nandipha Baliwe, 18: "I am enjoying this tour so very much and so far I have learnt some very interesting things about German culture and history. People are super nice and friendly."

Ntombezintle Jacobs, 17: “My highlight so far was to walk around the city of Berlin. We saw many sights and interesting buildings. Staying with our host families was amazing, they gave us much love and welcomed us with warm hands.”

Chumani Blou, 17: “I really enjoyed listening to the other choirs. We learnt a lot from them, and I hope they learnt from us as well.”

Tarryn Mintoor, 21, choir conductor: “The Germans really appreciate our music and are very welcoming. The biggest challenge of a tour like this is, however, to keep the kids motivated when they are tired and exhausted from all the new experiences.”

The tour is funded by the Goethe Institute, the Federal Office for Foreign Affairs Germany and the National Arts Council South Africa.