South Africa Eastern Cape Day 5

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July 25th 2013
Published: July 25th 2013
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Last night we were not exactly lulled to sleep by the sound of the crashing waves: it sounded like a storm was brewing. However, we were awoken by birdsong and the tail end of the sunrise (tomorrow we hope to see it properly). There was time for a spot of bird watching over breakfast before setting off for Sandi.

This morning we met some Zimbabwean contractors who were quoting for fitting out a library and kitchen in the new building funded at least in part by our school. We also met a couple of members of staff that were absent yesterday and have a vital role in maintaining the link between our schools. This was followed by another gathering of staff, during which time we presented the gifts that we had brought along: footballs, netballs, a ball pump, a new South African flag and a compact video camera. The presentation was followed by more singing and dancing in which we were both invited to join. I don’t think we did too badly.

In the meantime, the playground was being prepared for the Sandi talent show, which was a proper treat for us, staff and pupils alike. I couldn’t help but make the comparison between the Sandi and Berkhamsted versions. Although the Berkhamsted talent show is performed in a proper theatre with all the technical wizardry of sound and lighting and the Sandi one just had a small sound system, a couple of speakers and some mics, they really weren’t all that different. There was singing, dancing, poetry reading, the same calling out from pupils, a token staff act and great hilarity ensued when some of the boys decked themselves out in the skirts and headdresses used by the dancing girls and did a send-up of their act. At Berkhamsted we have envelopes in which to put donations to charity (usually supporting Sandi alongside others) naming the act in order to decide the winner. At Sandi they throw coins and sometimes even notes at the act and other pupils scramble to collect them up to pass them to the performer, unsurprisingly more often than not girls when boys are performing. Sometimes pens, pencils and chalk were thrown and I even saw a jar of Vaseline end up at the feet of a performer...perhaps it was an in-joke.

At the end of the afternoon we were given sandwiches and drink and then a group of staff announced that they were coming with us to Hluleka (I’m still struggling to pronounce it...the first part is a kind of guttural shh sound and no matter how hard I try it always goes wrong). Anyway it was a lovely surprise. They oohed and aahed over the chalet, we had a drink – they were disappointed at our lack of alcohol though and had to make do with coffee – and then we all headed down to the beach and had a laugh, until it was time for them to jump back into the truck and leave.

Tomorrow we are heading back to Sandi and will also visit the junior school that is linked to our prep school.

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