"I Loved everything... I attend every year because nature is part of who I am, and it's lovely to be outside connecting to my God's creation... It was inspiring. "
These were some of the comments made by Lotus High learners about the Just Earth Celebration and Procession on October 21 this year.
In the poems performed at the event, the Lotus learners commented on the calm and quiet that they appreciated at Princess Vlei. But on this day, the Vlei was filled with the sounds of drumbeats and children chanting, as 200 learners and adults joined the Just Earth Procession from Retreat Civic to Princess Vlei. The blustery southeaster added to the excitement, setting the tassels and wings of the giant bird puppets and dream catchers rippling in the breeze.
The day formed part of the Princess Vlei Forum’s ongoing programme to instil passion and knowledge about nature at Princess Vlei and beyond. In the weeks before the procession, learners gathered to paint creatures from Princess Vlei on T-shirts, and to create totem poles, with messages to promote social and ecological justice on earth, such as ‘We fight for birds of light’ ‘Make Mother Nature safer’ ‘Our goal: no coal’ ‘restore what we adore’ and many others.
Before the procession, learners gathered at Retreat Civic. Because of a roaring South Easter, the decision was made to do the performances at the Civic before the procession, rather than at Princess Vlei as was originally planned. Before the performances, the learners had an opportunity to create a headdress for the parade inspired by the Princess Vlei wetland. They also had their faces painted by the Lotus High volunteers.
Then it was time for the performances, introduced by Thimna Stokile in his colourful cloak. The nature-inspired dances were first, featuring young performers from Levana, Harmony, Buck Road and Rosmead Primary undulating like snakes, leaping like frogs and gliding like birds on the stage. As they danced, the creatures they'd painted on their t-shirts seemed to dance with them. Drummers from the same schools kept good time on their djembe drums. The dances invoked the spirits of our ancestors who would dance to connect with nature on the shores of Princess Vlei.
Next, the richly textured and evocative poetry written by the Lotus High Guardians was performed by Paige Eden , Nashiekah Louw, Deirdre Louw, Zia Booysen, Jade Witbooi, and Tracy Daniels. The poems were introduced by Toni Giselle Stuart.
The next performance was by Jungle Theatre Company of the Python and the Qunubu tree. This lively performance of Naledi Tlailane, Mario Matiya,Siyawandisa Badi and Marvin Safoor carried a strong message of the need to listen to and recall ancestral wisdom in caring for the environment and surviving times of drought. The audience watched with delight, especially when some of the audience were called on stage to help the characters with their mission to find the Qunubu tree.
At last it was time for the procession. The learners lined up outside the Civic, undeterred by the wind that was rippling the banners. Walking and jiving to the beat of the djembe drums, they set off through the streets of Sassmeer estate. The bravely held their bird totems, with their messages for a Just Earth, despite the gale buffeting around them. Sassmeer residents came out to enjoy the spectacle. The python from the play joined the procession, along with seven totem poles and three bird puppets. When they reached the vlei, the learners formed a huge circle and joined together in calling for a Just Earth.
The event was attended by learners from Levana, Rosmead, Buck Rd and Harmony Primary, Mkhanyisile Primary, Zenzeleni Primary, Azande Theatre Village Club, and Black Girls Rising.
Huge thanks to our funders City Grant in Aid and the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust managed by Nedbank Private Wealth, and to Pick and Pay Grassy Park for donating refreshments, as well as all our volunteers, teachers, facilitators and learners.
Posts by Bridget Pitt unless stated otherwise.