I went to Simonstown High School for the second time with Michelle and the eMzantsi group. This will be their 8th time coming to the high school working with stereotypes and the carnival bloca.
This week’s stereotype lesson was called a “flower power”. Each petal of the flower had two layers. (You can see my flower power above) Inside each petal was a category and you had to color in the petal that pertained to you. Some of them were easy. Like if you were a boy or a girl. Others required the kids to give more thought. One category was race, and the students had to either fill in “white” or “non-white”. They immediately had questions if they were neither white or non-white. What if you weren’t poor but also not rich? This really confused the kids for a while, especially with most of them being of mixed race. That was the entire premise of the exercise: to show that it is human nature to put people into groups and categorize. For example, when you associate someone being white, many of these kids would think of a rich male. But in life, there are a thousand other petals for each of these questions. There is no black and white, but many shades in between. Another pair of petals were if you were heterosexual or homosexual. Some of them laughed at the idea of girls liking girls and boys liking boys, but I could see some of them really thinking about who they are as a person. It made them think about maybe not seeing someone’s color of their skin or what brand shoes they have and to automatically put them into a group.
On to the more interactive drumming bloca:
From my last post about Simonstown, you know that Michelle is somewhat grooming and watching the two Ocean View women leading the bloca. From the video you can see below, Anusha is the woman in the front, acting as the leader of the ensemble, or drum major. With certain rhythms, she can tell the ensemble to keep on playing, stop, or go on to the next cadence, or song. Wanisha is the woman in the back with the “surdo”. The surdo is a Brazilian samba drum that acts as the heartbeat of the ensemble. If the surdos and the bass drum stop playing, the rest of the ensemble will not really be together and would ultimately fall apart. Wanisha is in the back to make sure the surdos and bass section are always keeping a steady beat, and supporting the djembe and snare drums.
Michelle said it was practically impossible to get Anusha and Wanisha out here to lead the Blocka. Honestly, I wouldn’t be too keen on the idea if Leo (the leader of the Ocean View Bloca) was against me leading and doubting my abilities. Michelle wanted Anusha and Wanisha to lead this program so they could gain experience leading a group of young musicians while having Michelle there to assist if anything went downhill. Michelle was helping a lot in the beginning sessions, but she knew she needed to step back and let them make mistakes and learn how fix them on their own. Of course Anusha and Wanisha wouldn’t be able to successfully lead an ensemble because they were convinced they weren’t good enough to be leaders. Leo set them up for failure right from the beginning without giving them a chance. Yes they are still beginners when it comes to facilitating high school music ensembles, but this only happened because Michelle actually gave them a chance.
I could tell the kids truly respected Anusha and Wanisha as leaders. The kids could easily relate to them because Anusha and Wanisha grew up in the same community as them. They act as role models for the girls at the school and show them that it’s possible to do something even when you have a group of people behind you hoping that you will fail.
After the rehearsal, my friend Sandy was pet sitting two pugs down the street. He loathes pugs, and we all know I’m borderline obsessed, so I asked if I could take them for a walk. Poppy and Penny the pugs were a pretty interesting little pair. Poppy is 14, so we had to carry her up the stairs and for the majority of the walk we took her on. Penny was kind of a little shit. But a cute one.
Simon’s Town is known for two things: the k-9 officer who would assist drunk policemen home, and the penguin reserve. Dusk is when all the Penguins are done with the water and curl up into their nests on land. Sandy and I decided to go watch the literal “march of the penguins” to their nests. My heart practically burst when I saw one of the penguins try to hop up a single stair and tripped. Cute little clumsy things. Fun fact: the species of penguin here are called the Jack Ass Penguin because they literally squawk like a donkey.
Read my continuation of my time with Michelle in Adventures with dogs and Michelle: Part 2!