The School of Hope is a place of learning where we value HOPE FAMILY TRANSFORMATION RESPONSIBILITY AND GIVING. We are education-junkies, sold out to breaking the cycle of crime, poverty and unemployment by giving every person the chance to complete their education. There is nothing more important that we can do for South Africa today!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Creating Hope

I was pleasantly surprised by a letter written to me by our enthusiastic Creative Arts teacher, Sipho Banda. Having just taken over the overactive, difficult-to-please and sadly underachieving Grade 8 class, he had a moment of joy in the integrated music/poetry class. He writes:

Last week, during Creative Arts, the Grade 8 class had to read aloud or perform a poem. The poems were randomly selected - I had never read the poem ‘Ou Krouskop’ before, and certainly assumed the learners never had either, but within minutes it was performed with an edgy and creative Hip-Hop flow ! I certainly don’t think the author intended ‘Ou Krouskop’ to be read that way, but that’s the beautiful thing about poetry and creativity. The group’s interpretation of the title had some local twang to it which was most entertaining. I smiled…and my smile turned to pure enjoyment. I wanted someone to walk into my class so that I could share the moment.
Learners should want to perform, present and learn with their peers.  What musical creativity! I didn’t know what to do with myself – and it was good. It was great to hear the murmurs of enthusiasm in the class.  One learner in particular displayed great confidence. Her voice was strong, and she was very good in her delivery. Something has happened in that learner.

So, with all the other important business that comes with teaching, I know that creativity is splendid and should always be encouraged in class.
Mr Banda does not have to convince me. The difference in the Grade 8 class since he became their teacher is obvious. All it takes is the courage to allow for something a little out of the routine for the learners to achieve something great.

Take the story of Masixole Feni. Masi left School of Hope after completing his Grade 12 exams in 2010 to pursue his love for photography. This month the South African Centre for Photography will exhibit his work: Water is Life. This is the first in a series of solo photographic exposés by Masixole Feni, showcased at the Alliance Française during the Month of April, 2014. The series has won a South African Centre for Photography award for its quality and relevant discourse related to 20 years of Democracy in South Africa. The prize includes the production and hosting of a further two linked showcases during the Cape Town Month of Photography that will showcase in October 2014 as an Official World Design Capital Project.

The exhibition opened on the 3rd April by Ian Landsberg, photo editor-in-chief at the independent Newspapers, where Masixole Feni has been a freelance photographer for the past two and a half years. Says Dimitri Perez, Alliance Française cultural coordinator, “As a cultural centre, with a mission to promote cultural diversity, as well as French culture, we are proud to welcome Masixole Feni and co-facilitate his solo debut in South Africa with Water is Life, curated by Jenny Altschuler of the South African Centre for Photography. The Alliance Française, in collaboration with the SA Centre for Photography, will host and support the month long showcase, as well as facilitate a public program which invites interaction between the community, the photographer and the work. It is also an honour to have Masixole Feni at Alliance as he has previously won the South African leg of the Alliance Française International Photography contest. This is a continuation also of our recognition of his beautiful work and the social topics he shares.”
Renting the space where he has placed his shack, as a ‘backyard dweller’ in the Mfuleni settlement near Khayelitsha, Cape Town, Masi has limited access to water and electricity from the main RDP house and no access to a toilet. Having grown up in the Sakhumzi Orphanage down the road, Masi still feels, however, that he has had more than many other people in the area. The South African Centre for Photography describes him on their website as follows: "Feni’s work has the self-awareness of a seer within his community".

So, we continue to celebrate creativity at the School of Hope and trust that many more creative minds will be nurtured and developed from within our walls. Perhaps, the next great musician-poet will emerge from Mr Banda's Grade 8 class.

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