– Hopes for a joyful future
The streets are crowded with busy people, mamas running around with their babies on their backs and street vendors living their everyday life. When you drive into the township of Mamelodi you have to be prepared to stop for cows crossing and aggressive taxi drivers, which apparently have the right of veto in the streets. The taxi-horns characterize the sound of Mamelodi and their internal conflicts can sometimes be a big worry for the residents. Mamelodi is a township near Pretoria and is a mixture of formal and informal settlements, crime is commonplace, for many, life can be a struggle. You will find big malls, hairdressers placed in small shacks and people selling African handcrafts along the streets. The pumping stereos from the local shebeens are playing house music and gospel. This is a place where you can really feel the South African vibe.
Inside the safe fences of Balebogeng primary school, kids from Mamelodi gathered to have their Field Band camp and end of year performance this weekend. The event was initiated by Lisa and Vemund from PULSE and was made in collaboration with the staff members of the Cullinan/Mamelodi Field Bands. The aim was to give the members a motivation and common goal to work towards. This was also an opportunity for PULSE to work with music-, health- and life-skills topics with the staff. The members have rehearsed in groups and as individuals to make the performance something unique and something the community could be proud of. They collected money to help finance the four-day long camp. 100 young members from the Field Band Foundation participated as well as a big group of volunteers from the local community. In the kitchen there were up to six Mamas cooking meals and preparing snacks for all the participants throughout the camp. The atmosphere was joyful within the groups of mamas. Mama Edith, who is a life-skills teacher and a dedicated Field Band supporter, was present during the whole camp and ensured peace and order among the members. Her authoritative way of being and powerful voice can even make the greatest rebellions keep their curfew.
A normal camp day starts at 5 o’clock in the morning when the members wake up eager to start. The Field Band tutors have arranged morning exercises with dance and aerobics before breakfast. After this the rehearsals start and keep on going through out the whole day, until late. Even after the mandatory rehearsals larger groups of members jam together through out the night with random passers as audience. The camp was a great opportunity for the members to get to know each other and the preparations to the concert became an intermediate object for the social activities. The youth supported each other, learned from each other and the youngest members were making banners with powerful slogans about why the field band activity could contribute positively their lives and the community. As one of the members said; “At the camp, we are one big family”.
On show-day the performance started as planned with a parade in the streets of Mamelodi. Similar to a Norwegian 17th of may parade, the band danced, played and carried their banners through the small streets. People peeped out from their houses and hailed the band as it approached. The parade ended at the school where the performance took place. The audience consisted of parents, brothers and sisters of the Field Band members and for many of them this was their first time seeing their relative perform. People from the local community, local media, and even VIPs from the head office was represented in the audience.
The performance turned out to be a great success and the members seemed really satisfied about the outcome. The members were proudly showing their attendance certificate to their relatives. The community was really delighted of the Mamelodi youths´ hard work and well-performed show.
Vemund Strand Aspeggen and Lisa Svenden
Check out this movie from the event: