It was a tale of two cultures this evening as I hot-footed it up to the rural village of Boncath in the Preseli’s to the Urdd Eisteddfod, (where my youngest was performing) – while a few miles away another group of youngsters was preparing to showcase the songs, dancing and beats of their home village too – from Madadeni, South Africa.
As loyal mums and dads trudged through the rainy muddy fields to a large temporary Pavilion building where the main Eisteddfod performances were taking place, about 30 young African children were heading for Narberth. They had earlier in the day experienced (some for the very first time) the seaside – up at Pembrokeshire’s finest White Sands Bay (where some jumped straight into the sea in their enthusiasm) before performing in St David’s and then heading down to a sell-out show at Narberth’s Plas Hyfryd Hotel.
I managed both gigs, and in one evening was reminded of all that is good and joyous about youthful energy and enthusiasm. These bright and engaging children – our future – singing and dancing – and carrying with them dreams of the future.
The young singers and dancers from Sithobelumthetho Primary School, Kwazulu Natal raised the spirits with their high energy singing, dancing and drumming in a joyful and exuberant performance that raised the roof of the hotel, along with much-needed funds for their school’s sustainable energy scheme.
They plan to install solar panels once suitable funds have been raised, and to do it they are undertaking a series of performances across the UK. The children were accompanied by a small adult group who chanted and displayed high kicks and resonating harmonies before singing what seemed to me to be a sad song to the cries of a mourning mother, apparently clutching her baby before laying it down on the ground and stepping away.
The young boys stomped and chanted and played drum beats on their heavy gumboots, displaying a culture that has its roots in the mining community of South Africa. They then donned traditional costumes and with spears and shields displayed the power of their new-found masculinity. The girls swayed and performed high kicks too and sang to the beat of ear-splitting drums. The effect was instant. The whole audience smiled, cheered and clapped along.
While I would have loved to have found a way to bring these two groups of young people together as they showcased just a few miles from each other the best of their cultures and talents in Pembrokeshire and Kwazulu-Natal – both sets of children left me feeling really hopeful for the future.
Pics: Sarah Hoss