It’s lights, camera and action at Aha Setjhaba Primary School in Parys
On Tuesday 4 September 2012, learners and educators at Aha Setjhaba Primary School in Parys, Free State, received a sensational donation.
At this under-resourced educational facility in Parys’s Tumahole township, Videovision Entertainment, MTN, award-winning radio personality Tsepiso Makwetla and representatives from the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory came together to launch a one-year pilot programme that aims to grow learners’ career understanding of film, and offer them the opportunity to share their stories on camera.
“Today we are here to supply the Mandela Day container library [installed at the school in 2011] with not just books, but also equipment and material that relates to film,” said Nilesh Singh of Videovision Entertainment, the South African film and television company that is wrapping up production on Long Walk to Freedom, a film that documents Nelson Mandela’s epic journey to democracy.
“We have so many hidden talents across the country and we hope that you will be inspired to use this equipment and share the stories you encounter within your communities,” he added.
The handover included a donation of books about film, a 40-inch flat-screen television, a Blu-Ray DVD player, four handycam video cameras and three Kodak cameras, along with SD cards, AV cables and camera bags and batteries.
The library also received a pile of Videovision DVDs that tell the story of South Africa’s social and political struggle, including Red Dust, a movie about SA’s Truth and Reconciliation process, Cry the Beloved Country, Yesterday and More than Just a Game, a movie that shares the story of the Makare Football League, a soccer club founded and developed in Robben Island prison.
And although Aha Setjhaba, which means “build a nation”, is the first school to take part in this project, it certainly won’t be the last.
From humble beginnings
Aha Setjhaba is actively involved in growing its Soul Buddyz club, which comprises around 25 young learners who participate in making a better community.
“The Soul Buddyz system encourages young learners to help each other and uplift those around them by tackling social issues within the school and the community,” explained Frank Meintjies, of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.
Dora Qulunga is the Soul Buddyz facilitator at the school. Her passion for learners, and for the learning of life lessons, is what inspires her to give of her time after hours to mould these young learners into leaders.
It was via the Soul Buddyz initiative that learners put forward the request for a Mandela Day container library in 2010.
Committed to taking action and inspiring change
The Mandela Day container library opened in July 2011. SAfm’s Tsepiso Makwetla attended the opening ceremony as an invited guest. After that first glance into the lives of these young learners, Makwetla knew she’d be back. She just didn’t know how soon.
After being awarded the MTN Y'ello Rose earlier this year for her astounding contribution to addressing social issues in the media, Makwetla decided to donate 50% of her R100 000 prize money to a cause that is close to her heart: Aha Setjhaba Primary School.
“My mother is a great educationalist, and so she had a formal education plan set out for me from the start. After dabbling here and there, I decided to follow my heart and pursue a career in broadcasting,” said Makwetla.
It because of her mother, and other strong women who she associates with, that Makwetla is where she is today.
“It is imperative that you surround yourself with people who have a will to succeed and who can steer you in the direction you want to go,” she advised the learners, adding that this audio library project had been made possible by the joint commitment of a group of people who supported the vision of a container library with a difference.
“Lead by example,” she said to the Soul Buddyz leaders. “Don’t let anything deter you as you follow your dream.”
Books and films would help them travel the world and learn about leaders who have shaped our country, she added: “Use these resources to capture the stories in your communities and communicate these to your peers. This is an opportunity for you to say things you feel you can’t usually say. Use it!”
Make the change
Arrie Pieterse is the Director: Corporate Services for Inclusive Education in the Fezile Dabi District Municipality, in which Aha Setjhaba Primary School is located. One of the shortcomings of today’s education is the provision of career information at primary school level, he said.
“We don’t have enough material or course work that can help learners decide what career to follow,” he said. “With this type of intervention, though, the kids will be inspired and can really learn about the career of film.”
Principal Patrick Letloenyane agreed. “This is another way of telling our stories that encourages a passion for cinematography and sharing of the moving pictures,” he said.
For MTN, finding ways to uplift communities and help people realise their dreams was just another business perk.
“Via the MTN Foundation and via our 21 Days of Yellow Care initiative, we’ve helped identify and address social issues such as education across the country,” said Ryan Gould, General Manager for Brand and Communications at MTN.
“Since Tsepiso is the recipient of our Y'ello Rose award for critical women in media, we are thrilled and honoured to be a part of making her dream come true here at Aha Setjhaba.”
Anant Singh, CEO of Videovision Entertainment, also had a poignant message for the learners. Speaking from the set of Long Walk to Freedom, Singh urged the learners to make use of technology that enables us to tell stories in different ways.
“Get out there and make it happen! We want to hear your stories!” he said.
Aha Setjhaba Primary School is the first in a long line of Mandela Day container library projects that the trio (MTN, Makwetla and Videovision) hopes to initiate. With such innovation and excitement happening in rural and township schools across the country, it can only bode well for learners and future filmmakers in South Africa.
To view more images of the event, click here.