Michelle took me to the Cavalleria Primary School in Kraiifontain today. Every Thursday, she teaches around 60 kids traditional African drumming and marimba. It takes about 30 minutes to get the school. Theres a drug house right across the street from the main entrance. Michelle said she’s seen one of the older students from the secondary school not far down the road get shot and killed by another student. Some of the students’ shoes are worn and their toes are exposed. Many wear clothes that do not fit them. One girl I met has AIDS. Another little girl was shot in the leg by a drive-by when she was out to buy bread. But nothing compares to how happy these kids get when they see Michelle coming for weekly rehearsal.
Michelle teaches four different groups of kids for an hour each: two are the performance groups (junior and senior), and the other two are beginners. The classes are a mixture of fourth through seventh graders. The school has no official music program, so they convert the staff meeting room as a practice area and move all the chairs and tables to the side to make room for all the instruments. Michelle is paid by an organization called One Love Foundation that is run by a woman in Atlanta, Georgia. This foundation not only bought the drums and marimbas for the school and pays for Michelle to be there once a week, but it also pays for a school garden that is well maintained by full time workers and students. The garden is then harvested and the food is used to feed the students. For many of them, this is the only meal they receive a day.
In order to be in the music program, the students are required to audition in front of Michelle at the beginning of the year. Even though this is a completely optional music program during school, it is thought of really cool to be in the music classes; unfortunately, Michelle only has the time and equipment for 60 kids. These classes teach much more than African music. Michelle requires each student in the program to know how to take care of the instruments provided, how to take them apart, and how to properly store them. This teaches responsibility, teamwork, and respect. These kids learn what it’s like to be apart of group that shares one commons goal: to make music and have fun while doing it.
At the beginning of each class, Michelle let the students ask me a couple of questions about life in America. Some of my favorite are:
– Are taxis really yellow?
– Do you know Drake?
– Are you a cowboy?
– Who are your parents? You look familiar.
The kids were so great I told them that if they are even in Texas, they can stay with me. Naturally, one little girl told me she’s telling her mom she’s moving away and traveling with me. That was just too adorable. (You better be saying “aww” to this, because it is indeed heartwarming). Check out the kids performing for me below and in the “Videos” section of my website!
Anyways, tune in next time for my next blog about my good friend Nidhi!
I wish I had as much sass as this little guy