Creating a writing nation: In the month of October, FunDza ran creative writing workshops with Ikamva Youth in Macassar. The plan was to pilot a workshop and see if there was a need for it. Well, the need was there.
Ran by Sandra Hill with the assistance of a FunDza facilitator, our first session we were bombarded with about 70 learners. There was no way we could pull that off, so we asked for the group to be split in two groups. We would run one Saturday with one and then come back for the other group.
Both these sessions were amazing, and both Sandra and I were thrilled with the outcome. We were blown away by the calibre of young writers out there. We were, at first, concerned that our model workshop would be too much for them, as Sandra had adapted her memoir one that she usually does with adults. But we shouldn’t have worried: all the exercises were eaten up like hot muffins on a chilly Saturday morning.
The exercises prompted the use of sensory descriptions that the participants had to inject into their writing to make it come alive. It was alive alright, with bright and amazing adjectives and wonderfully natural craftsmanship. The kids didn’t know what gold they were sitting on.
We would use prompts to get them started. Writers sometimes struggle with where to start as there is so much they would like to cover, and we found that the prompts helped. They had to think of 3 memories, namely the first day they got a phone, their first day in high school and then chose a memory of their own they would like to write about. The workshop was tailored around free writing, and this too, was useful and fun.
The kids, being kids, would give us a hard time that they had to write again. They would mumble and grumble, all the while disturbing others. But when they finally put their pens to paper and words rained down, the silence in the room was amazing. They wrote and wrote and didn’t want to stop when the timer came to a buzz.
We left the second workshop feeling that there should be more. So we designed a Master Class. We wanted to see who wanted to be there and not just there because their friends were; who would benefit the most? We expected about 15 learners and to our surprise we had over 42 students for our last session.
Although the crowd was hard to manage between the two of us, the day was a great success. Here are two of the poems we got from them, using the prompt: Sometimes I feel like… Because…
Sometime I feel like a cheetah
Because I can take care of myself and my family
Because I can have a better future and achieve in life
Because I want to be something my parents want me to be and lead by example and be independent
Sometimes I feel like an open book
Because I have no secrets the towards people I love in my life
Because I can tell you when you’re right and wrong and I don’t hide it when it’s wrong
Because I tell everyone how I feel and I have to be open to you cause I don’t hide how I feel
By Chumisa Batyi
Sometimes I feel like a cat
Because I like roaming around
Because I like to cry when I’m ignored by the closest person in my heart
Because milk is my favourite thing when it comes to dairy
Sometimes I feel like a candle
Because I bring light where I am
Because I am bright in my studies
Because I am helpful in my community where I live
Sometimes I feel like a broken car on the N1
Because when my heart is broken I cannot go anywhere
Because I am easily hurt
Because I don’t like people to take advantage of me
Sometimes I feel like a loser
Because I am easily disappointed
Because I let people make fun of me
Because every time I am hurt I don’t fight, I just feel sad
And that is how I feel
These workshops reminded me again of why we do what we do. These kids, these future South African authors are out there. It is our job to make sure they know what gold they carry in their hands and having platforms like these that FunDza provides, helps them get closer to that. I could see myself meeting up with them on Saturdays and grooming and nurturing that talent they don’t even know they have. To spend time with them and breathe words of encouragement that they are our future writers and their stories matter. The kids left my heart warm and wishing knowing what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I could see myself…
Thank you to Ikamva Youth for lending us your jewels. Heartfelt thanks to Sandra Hill for compiling workshops that were both fun and useful. FunDza, thanks for the opportunities you keep providing us with, all of us.