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By Posted on 3 Comments1min read288 views

The play had finished. There were a hundred

or so children of Orange Farm township –

a large, informal city of mostly

shacks, few paved roads, limited clean water.

These seven, eight, nine year olds lucky enough

to be in school had shrieked with fearful delight,

laughed with wonder, their imaginations

transforming the double classroom’s bare,

austere walls into Dumisani’s

journey through English, Sotho, Venda

Xhosa, Zulu so he could play his drum.


To thank us, their teacher asked them to sing

a hymn, ‘Waiting at the Gate’. I expected,

as at home, unsteady voices reaching

for monophony but no, here, each child

sang the harmonious line that suited

her or him, an infinite polyphony.


I can see them still – serious, confident,

as if what really mattered to them then

was the eternity beyond heaven’s gate

the words long for – and hear them now, their

culture’s joyful, heartbreaking harmony,

that commonwealth of sound.




Note: UBUNTU has been posted on June 16thYouth Day in South Africa.





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