Makhanda residents were spoilt for choice when it came to celebrating Heritage Day on 24 September.
Visitors to Church Square woke up to a unique performance on Heritage Day morning. Three poets, Dumisa Mpupha, Dudu Saki and Mandlenkosi Dyakala related the story of how the site of the Cathedral was once believed to be a kraal of Chief Ndlambe. A small kraal stood as their backdrop and inspired them to explain its symbolic significance for the regaining of African values. For more information on how to see the performance (it was video-recorded), contact Dumisa Mpupha 083 505 3452.
Also focusing on place and local history was Ramie Xonxa, who in addition to being one of Makana’s most active councillors is also a history tour guide and heritage researcher.
He spoke to a group of fascinated schoolchildren, parents and teachers about the socio-political and cultural history of Fingo Village.
Sizwe Mda’s Princess Zila Lobengula Museum in B Street, where the event was held, is at the heart of the history of pride and heartbreak that Xonxa touched on. He spoke of outrage at apartheid officials’ destruction of old graves at kwaNdancama; the tragedy of vandalism today at monuments built to commemorate fallen warriors in the Battle of Grahamstown at Egazini; the spiritual significance of Ntaba eZono (popularly known as Makana’s Kop) and the richness and value of the indigenous languages that are among South Africans’ heritage.
The former teacher engaged his mostly high school audience with questions about local history and hands shot up as he asked questions such as the exact date of the Battle of Grahamstown (22 April 2019, in case you’d forgotten!) and South Africa’s 12th official language (Sign Language, of course!).
Late in the Extension 9 Hall, a lively audience enjoyed performances by students from Access Music Project and the Sakhuluntu Cultural Group among others.
As an icy rain turned the dust outside into mud, the enthusiastic crowd was pleased to be inside and the performers enjoyed a warm reception.
The performances were very good and the mood was festive.
But the Extension 9 hall is an acoustic and safety nightmare. The floor, stairs and ramp leading up to the stage are lined with ceramic tiles that send dancers and anyone else active to an unforgiving landing at the smallest sign of anything slippery underfoot.
Musical sound – no matter how well executed – beats its way around behind the proscenium before thrusting itself, scrambled, towards the main hall. There it balls up with the conversations of dozens of excited kids, already amplified by echoey tiles, to create a deafening noise.
Thank you to the organisers for taking the trouble to create this opportunity. The hall’s design is not their fault – but our talented young performers deserve better.
The St Andrew’s College Highland Games last weekend saw pipers travel from across the country to take part in the festival. There were excellent performances from the pipers, as part of the various pipe band competitions, during the Highland Festival.