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Nelson Mandela Bay Farm School wins National Schools Choral Eisteddfod

Dec 15, 2017
Nelson Mandela Bay Farm School wins National Schools Choral Eisteddfod

Rocklands Intermediate School won two national categories in the ABC Motsepe National South African Schools Choral Eisteddfod (SASCE) held in Randburg, Gauteng.

The rural farm school won the Sextet and Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass (SATB) Chamber Choir categories of the national Eistedford which forms part of the Department of Basic Education’s school enrichment programme. The competition focused on promoting unity in diversity, national reconciliation, positive values, a new South African national identity, social transformation and social cohesion among school-going South African youth.

“We represented the province at the competition and won nationally,” Rocklands choirmaster, Buyisile Plaatjie said.

The choir, which started in 1997 has an 80-member mass choir made up of learners from grade 8 - 12. There is also the smaller choir consisting of 30 to 40 learners.

Melikaya Adams a Grade 11 pupil, who joined the choir in 2014, said being part of the choir helps him stay away from negative elements in his community.

“In my community youth of my age are involved with a lot of crime. Being part of the choir helps me to stay away from crime,” Adams said. He wants to be a political analyst one day.

Ntombikayise Mbovane a Grade 12 learner said she loves the choir because she loves to sing.

“I love singing and when I am sad or in a bad space I sing because music makes me happy. Having won the Eisteddfod is an amazing feeling. It was my first time in Johannesburg and this competition made it possible for me to see things I never saw before but only see on tv,” said Mbovane.

Principal Andile Mabele said the school is surrounded by impoverished communities.

“Some of the areas that the children are from there is drug and alcohol abuse and the choir keeps them off the street and they focus on their academics. When the learners attend the choir competitions the matric results of the previous year is mentioned and this motivates them to know that there is an increase in the school’s matric pass rate,” Mabele said.

The school’s matric pass rate increased from 62% in 2015 to 65% in 2016. They are hoping for further increases this year.

“Sovereign Foods played a major role in us winning the competition. They provided much needed sponsorship to get us to the competition.

“The donation not only helped pay for transport but made the children feel as if they were home. Knowing that they felt this comfortable and well taken care of helped them focus and participate their best in the competition, and this enabled us to win,” Plaatjie said.

Mabele describes the relationship between Sovereign Foods and the school as very good. “They help us a lot,” he said. 

 “The school, learners and parents worked hard to increase the pass rate. The whole community and parents around the school pulled together. They used a few class rooms, added mattresses and got the matric students to sleep there. This was to ensure that the matric learners were catered for because in the past children would go home and had nothing to eat and would therefore be hungry and/or tired during the examinations. The community then decided to come together and help each other to raise the standard of results at the school and that was amazing. This is one of their success stories that make me very proud; and the parents and teachers did that,” Maepa said.

Thuto Maepa, Sovereign Foods Group Executive Human Resources, said that Sovereign Foods is committed to developing its surrounding community.

“Rocklands Farm school has a long history with Sovereign. The land the school is built on was donated to the school by Sovereign. We have a very good relationship with them and have a conversation every year around what their needs, issues and challenges are.”

“The choir has been incredibly successful over the past few years and we are very proud of them,” Maepa concluded.

The school was established in 1953. It is situated in Rocklands, just outside of Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape. Today, 755 learners from grade R to matric occupy this space.

Image: SINGING VOICES: Thuto Maepa, Sovereign Foods Group Executive Human Resources with some of the Rocklands Intermediate School choir members, Ntombikayise Mbovane, 19 years, (Grade 12), Nomvuzo Daweti, 17 years, (Grade 11), Thobela Takane, 18 years (Grade12), Thembikaya Nxopo, 19 years (Grade 10) and Melikaya Adams, 20 years (Grade 11).