Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Wendy singing starts

Wendy Alexander finally got into doing some of what a party leader should be doing - holding her first ever Parliamentary press conference as a party leader.

You can imagine the tension, pens poised, notepads at the ready, ears straining for every nuance. The star of the hour takes her seat, smiles at the assembled scribes like a siofra at a spelling bee, and clears her throat.

Half a dozen scribes take out their penknives and cut the air for a better view, Wendy frowns them into stillness, opens her mouth, and the air is filled with the sound of children's voices singing:
Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika
Maluphakanyisw' uphondo lwayo,
Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo.
Disaster!

As the journalists expressed their sympathies Simon Pia was despatched to hush the choir from Zwelibanzi High School in Umlazi - one of South Africa's poorest townships. They were under the watchful eye of Tricia Marwick MSP, though, and not even Simon Pia is daft enough to hush school pupils in front of her - he just waited till they finished.
If only Wendy could have appreciated the second verse:

Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso,
O fedise dintwa la matshwenyeho,
O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso,
Setjhaba sa South Afrika - South Afrika.

Banishing strife? Would have been music to her ears! Poor Wendy.

Enough of politicians - what about the pupils?
The children singing are part of a quite extraordinary exchange programme organised by James Gillespie's High School in Edinburgh called "DiverseCity" which has now been running for 10 years.

Umlazi, situated outside Durban, is one of the poorest townships in South Africa, but Zwelibanzi High School pupils get some of the best qualification results in South Africa.
Gillespie's twinning with Zwelibanzi High School helps - the school's fundraising supports Zwelibanzi's educational and other needs, helping to build a kitchen to feed the poorest children, a new sports field, a school library and a music room - all from funds raised in Edinburgh.
Gillespie's pupils have a fantastic cultural change programme, I believe that 50 Scots a year go to teach and learn in Zwelibanzi. A couple of the pictures above have been quite shamelessly purloined from the school's website - http://www.jghs.edin.sch.uk/

That's what I call a school of ambition. Well done Gillespie's! Miss Jean Brodie's creme de la creme has nothing on this lot.

1 comment:

James said...

Yeah, this is a great exchange. The Gillespies students and the Zwelibanzi students both get their eyes opened by it. Other schools across Edinburgh and Scotland should be showing similar imagination.