On 23 March 2018 I was at Beautiful Gate in Philippi East with Nandi Tshabane to commemorate Human Rights Day. We arrived in time to set up FunDza’s books so that the learners could browse and engage with them. In the hall where the event was held, there was a whole buzz of energy and excitement from everyone in the organisation – from management to the learners!
The event began with a short but a powerful prayer by Sis’Sibahle. This was no surprise as Beautiful Gate is a Christian organisation. Sam, Master of Ceremonies, called a learner up to explain to us why we were there and what Human Rights Day was all about. The grade 9 learner did this impressively clearly demonstrating the amount of planning and practice that took place before the event.
There were two in-house speakers and one guest speaker: our very own Nandipha Tshabane! The first speaker was Tshepang who spoke about children’s rights and the responsibility that goes with these rights. Just to elaborate a bit, here’s an example: the right to shelter, however one has to take responsibility by cleaning up in order to assist their parents. That went down quite well with the learners as they listened attentively. The second in-house speaker was Dr Vaughn, Director of Beautiful Gate South Africa, who shared the history of Human Rights Day – a reflection on the Sharpeville Massacre – with the learners. He told them about the 69 lives that were lost and the 180 people who were injured in demonstrations against the apartheid government’s pass laws in 1960. The learners listened attentively to the talk. This was proven by the accurate answers they gave when they were quizzed later. Freshly baked muffins were given out by Sam as prizes for correct answers.
In between the talks there were a few performances. There was a choir which sang beautifully, a group of boys wearing 1960s-type clothing who danced to kwela kwela baba, and a Grade 9 learner who read us a short story she had written. It was impressively well written! Even though this learner was only in Grade 8, she had written a coherent well-structured story. After finishing her story she spoke about how FunDza books had helped her to improve her English. We were so pleased to hear this!
Then it was Nandi’s turn to speak. She spoke about FunDza and the work that we do, and she touched on the Rights 2.0 – Bridging Divides project. She told learners about the small pocket booklets that we have with stories that illustrate our rights. She said that if learners wanted their own booklet to take home, they would need to fill in the five-lined Freedom poem first. We received more than 30 of these poems from the learners.
I loved the energy the learners had and the enthusiasm they showed throughout the human rights event. Learners from SAEP and work-seekers from Harambee also attended the event. I appreciate the hospitality that Beautiful Gate showed us. Most importantly, I got to eat two hot dogs because Nandi is allergic to them!