Back to School
"Ezifundeni High School"
After our walk we headed to a local school, Ezifundeni High School. We were given the opportunity to go and buy pens, paper and exercise books to take to the school and then drove out into the countryside.
Drifters had previously taken tourists to a Zulu museum, what I can only imagine is the Zulu equivalent of the Black Country Museum, but had had bad experiences, partly because the resident Zulu dancers got drunk on their tips! So instead the company had struck up a relationship with a local school and village. In return for singing us some traditional Zulu songs the school got donations from Tourists, and the Tourists got a great experience too. We were shown around by an ex-pupil who has since gone to college to study tourism and is making a living out of the industry.
The children must have been used to tourists coming around frequently but seemed please to see us, and what we may have bought them. On arrival in the class rooms we were asked to introduce ourselves, and where we were from. The kids replied to each of us with very enthusiastic applause, and found some of our names really amusing!
I left without any pens in my bag (above and beyond the ones I had bought to give away!) and one of our party gave away most of her (costume) jewellery, and had an offer of marriage! The kids also liked seeing the pictures of themselves on our digital cameras.
"Ladysmith Black Mambazo watch out!"
The children sang for us, when I say they sang, in my school we had a school choir, who were OK. Here whichever children wanted to just got to the front of their class and sang some songs of their own choice. They had amazing voices and the songs literally made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
Dancing and singing is so clearly a natural part of their life, and there was no self consciousness or inhibition, compared with that which you’d get walking into a British school at least! One of the dances they did involved stamping, and I’ve since learnt the dance that originated in the cramped confines of the mine dormitories imitating a bull with the arms held aloft and the legs brought down with a thump.