Ricochet News

Sarah Baartman District Marimba band arrives back from China

Feb 16, 2017
Sarah Baartman District Marimba band arrives back from China

Sarah Baartman District Municipality Executive Mayor, Khunjuzwa Eunice Kekana, on Wednesday joined several happy parents, who gathered at the Port Elizabeth International Airport to welcome back a group of eight learners, from Sea Vista, in the Kouga Local Municipality, following their trip to China.

The learners, who are part of a local Marimba band, were invited by the Chinese city of Jincheng to perform at its celebrations to mark the Chinese New Year, which fell on the 28th of January this year.

They departed from the same airport for China on the 25th of January and spent about two and a half weeks there.

Speaking of their trip, Bafana Santi, a member of the Marimba band, said that it had been an “unbelievable and memorable experience”.

“The trip was great. We got a lot of experience in China with the people and it was lots of fun and the people are very nice there,” he said, adding; “We all missed our families a lot though; we bought them small presents from China as well.”

He said that he hoped that the trip to China would be the start of greater things for the band and more visits abroad.

A growing relationship between Sarah Baartman District and China

The trip to China was made possible through a blossoming relationship between China and the Sarah Baartman District Municipality, which dates back to 2008, when the former Cacadu District Municipality entered into a partnership agreement with Jincheng City Municipality, in the Shanxi Province of China.

The purpose of the agreement was to find ways of alleviating three major challenges within the District, namely unemployment, poverty and inequality. A number of areas were identified for cooperation between the two entities, including economic development, technology, skills development, health care, education, sports and culture.

Following the initial agreement, a number of interactions occurred, strengthening the relationship between these entities. In 2015, the Sarah Baartman District Municipality hosted a Chinese delegation comprised mainly of members from a musical Chinese group, known as the Ba Yinhui. The group successfully performed at the 41st National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Another delegation visited the Sarah Baartman District in June 2016.

During this visit, another MOU was signed, committing the parties to the facilitation of a mutually beneficial learner/student exchange programme. In August 2016, a delegation of 20 from Jincheng City arrived, comprised of 15 students, two teachers and three municipal officials.

The delegation spent time in Kouga and was treated to a performance by the Steel and Marimba band from Sea Vista, amongst others. Shortly after the delegation arrived back in China, an invitation was extended to the band to perform during the Chinese festival.

A group of traditional dancers from Paterson was also considered to accompany the band members, however, due to adverse weather conditions and several other factors it was decided that only the Steel and Marimba band members would travel to China.

Delegation was very impressed by band

“When the band performed for the Chinese delegation at the Cape St. Francis Resort in September last year, they were blown away by them,” Lesley Moore, Coordinator at the Talhado Children’s Haven, in Sea Vista, where the band is based, previously told Sarah Baartman News.

Talhado Children’s Haven is a pre-primary school and after-care facility that also runs youth development programmes as well as drug and alcohol abuse counselling for its community.

Moore said that without the Sarah Baartman District Municipality this trip would not have been possible.

“The Sarah Baartman District Municipality covered the band’s expenses from here to China, where the Jincheng City Municipality took over as host,” she described.

Making a name for themselves

While the trip to China boosted the marimba band’s prestige immensely, the group has already built up a good reputation for itself locally.

The band has, since it was started in 2001, provided entertainment at various international and local events and conferences that have been held at the Cape St. Francis Resort.

“The Cape St. Francis Resort attracts tourists and visitors from all over the world. Whenever tourist groups stay at the resort, the band has been invited to perform for them in the evenings – just before the guests have their supper,” added Moore proudly.

Dean Kalo, the band’s leader and teacher, emphasised that the band’s success has brought positivity to the disadvantaged children of their community.

“It gives them something to look forward to and builds their self-esteem. They get plenty of enjoyment out of hearing themselves play. It also steers them away from drug or alcohol abuse,” he explained.

The band is made up of boys between the ages of 10 and 16 years old.

Image: HIGH FLYERS…From left to right: Ayanda Hlela; Sarah Baartman District Municipality Executive Mayor, Khunjuzwa Eunice Kekana; Dean Kalo; Band Teacher, Jo-Andre Swarts; Abulele Silolo; Sagin Rala; Grant Logan-Harris; Banele Speelman; and Bafana Santi.