In September and October, young Princess Vlei Guardians were hard at work preparing for the Just Earth Celebration to be held on October 21. Their preparations included composing and practicing dances, painting T-shirts, creating totem poles and composing poetry.
Respect, love, joy, kindness, gratitude, protect, calm, empathy… these are some of the words that learners painted on their t-shirts to honour the creatures at Princess Vlei.
Seventy-five learners from Rosmead, Levana, Harmony and Buck Road Primary came together to paint T-shirts to wear at the Just Earth Procession and Celebration.
Before painting the T-shirts, the learners discussed the meaning of the Just Earth logo, which was printed on the back of the T-shirts. We talked about what a Just Earth might mean for human and non-human species, and why we need social and ecological justice to make the world a kinder and safer place for all. We discussed the significance of the Khoe figure holding up the earth, and how our ancestors taught us lessons of how to live in harmony with nature and each other, many of which have been forgotten.
Learners were invited to choose an animal species which lives at Princess Vlei, and to paint it on their T-shirt. They were also invited to think of a word that they would like to give to that creature. At the end of the day, we had a parade of colourful birds, insects, crustaceans and amphibians to walk with us on the procession.
Creative activities such as this help to forge a strong emotional connection between the children and the species they are depicting on their shirts, while giving learners a sense of empowerment and achievement at their creations.
Even the Principal joined in...
In addition to painting the T-shirts, the learners were also hard at work practicing their dances for the procession. The dances were inspired by the learner’s observations of how creatures move at Princess Vlei. They were choreographed into dance pieces by our talented dancers and movement teachers, Thimna Stokile and Xoli Fuyani. In Thimna’s words, ‘When the Principal joins from the back you just know it’s a vibe.’ - this after Ms Charity, Levana Principal, joined the learners as they wriggled like earthworms and hopped like grasshoppers.
Jungle Theatre Company’s Siyawandisa Badi and Marvin Safoor taught learners how to keep time on djembe drums so that they could give the dancers a beat for their jive .
Rhymes for restoration
While the younger Princess Vlei Guardians were painting t-shirts and practicing their dances, fifteen senior guardians came together to create totem poles to carry on the procession.
The poles were topped by bird heads made by learners in previous year’s projects. Each had a pair of totemic wings with a message from the birds to the local community and beyond, and a woven dream-catcher like hoop to represent the web of life. Inside this was painted animal or plant linked to the bird.
The learners brainstormed all the issues facing planet earth, and devised messages to be painted on the wings. Their poetic inclinations came to the fore, as they devised slogans such as Stop pollution and find a solution; We fight for Birds of Light; Stop plastic, be fantastic, Just Earth for its worth, Our goal: no coal, Restore what we adore, Go on a mission to stop carbon emissions, and many others. Fourteen of these were chosen to paint on to the wings. The learners also painted the animal boards and wove the webs.
The end result was seven stunning totems to carry at the procession.
The Just Earth Project is a collaboration between the Forum, Jungle Theatre Company, Peter Clarke Art Centre. Xoli Fuyani and Thimna Stokile provide the dance expertise, and Toni Giselle Stuart the poetry input. The overall project was funded by the City of Cape Town Grant in Aid fund, while certain elements were funded by the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust, managed by Nedbank Private Wealth.
Posts by Bridget Pitt unless stated otherwise.