‘We are nature and nature is us’
This was the message of the Lotus High rap, performed at the Princess Vlei Flight of Dreams parade on Saturday, 15 September. It was a day of old stories and young voices, of old and young dancers, of flying birds and flying dreams, and the boundless creativity of nature and of the youth who came together to celebrate it.
Over 150 children from a number of local school have been preparing for the parade for several months, observing and learning about the birds of Princess Vlei, to guide their creation of puppets and masks for the parade. Lotus High learners cut out and painted the wings for the eight giant puppets. The parade also featured the eMzantsi carnival Blokka band and eMzantsi carnival puppet chameleons, as well as the Fairmount High marching band.
The parade is a collaboration between the Princess Vlei Forum, The Peter Clarke Art Centre, the Jungle Theatre Company, and eMzantsi Carnival. It is held each year to raise awareness of the rich bird life and other nature at Princess Vlei, and to give our inspiring youth an opportunity to showcase their creative talents. Art works created in this process are also on display at the PVF/PCAC art exhibition at the Grassy Park Library until 21 September.
The parade was followed by performances at Princess Vlei. The Jungle Theatre Company enacted an ancient Khoi legend “When Lion had Wings”, which recounts the story of how Lion once could fly and terrorized all the creatures. The clever vultures and an insubordinate frog steal the lion’s sky magic, so that now the vultures can fly and the lion has to creep on earth.
This was followed by a performance by the Lotus High Learners, recounting the ancient Khoi legend of the Great Bird Race, in which a sunbird outwits an eagle to become the leader of the birds. Their performance finished with a rap declaring that they are the guardians of the Vlei, and encouraging all to care for the fynbos and other living things. The Lotus High learners have formed a Lotus Princess Guardians club, which does planting and clean-ups at Princess Vlei. The Constantiaberg and elephant’s eye cave, visible across the waters of the vlei, provided a powerful backdrop for these old stories, imagined into being by the people who lived near the great wetlands around Princess Vlei thousands of years ago.
A highlight of the afternoon was Emile Jansen and Mixed Mense, who performed Hip Hop songs and dances. Emile pointed out the similarities between Hip Hop culture and the ancient Khoi culture, and encouraged the youth present to take pride in their Khoi heritage. He told them, ‘One day we will wear t-shirts with the characters of our own legends, like /Kaggen, instead of spiderman and superman.’ He also encouraged people to get involved and take ownership of their neighbourhoods, rather than letting the gangs have control.
Mixed Mense got everyone in the crowd dancing, although not no-one could quite match the moves of Mixed Mense dancers Charlie Eftha and Stefan Benting.
It was a beautiful way to celebrate our cultural and natural heritage – and the passion and dedication of these learners certainly gives us hope that this heritage will cherished in the future.
Huge thanks to Mixed Mense for performing, and Brent Roberts for doing the sound - both free of charge; to the Neighbourhood watch for marshalling; to the Calvin Protestant Church, to our amazing volunteers and especially to the teachers and learners who made this all possible.
Grassy Park library was atwitter last month as several bird inspired artworks were put on display. The works were created in workshops held by the Princess Vlei Forum to introduce local learners to the rich bird life at Princess Vlei; or they were produced through the Peter Clarke Art Centre's Ibhabhatane community outreach project.
Learners were hard at work preparing for the Flight of Dreams parade. Here, learners from Floreat Primary and Harmony Primary create bird masks with some help from PCAC's Fabian Hartzenberg
Lotus Primary learners created colourful kingfishers on sticks
John Graham Learners worked with black paper to create some exotic kingfisher masks.
The learners around Princess Vlei know their coots from their kingfishers, thanks to Alice Ashwell's fabulous introduction to bird species around Princess Vlei. In these sessions, learners research their birds, get to know what food they like, where they prefer to live, how much the weigh. how big they are, and what sounds they make. First it was FLoreat Primary's turn
Then Harmony Primary learners came to meet our feathered friends
John Graham Science Club was next
Then the Lotus Princess Guardians from Lotus High - this was very useful when they came to perform the Great Bird Race on September 15.
Posts by Bridget Pitt unless stated otherwise.