Update: An article I wrote about this event was published on the Reserve Force Division website. Here is the PDF document.
At the start of October 2011, during the mid-term school holidays, there was great excitement at at the historic Castle of Good Hope in central Cape Town. Built between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India Company (or VOC) as a replenishment halfway station between Europe and the East, the Castle is the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa. Originally the centre of life at the Cape (civilian, military and administrative), it remains until today the seat of the military in the Cape (official website).
Three talented youth groups were invited to perform in this magnificent venue with its massive stone walls and towering battlements, as part of the School Holiday Youth Development Program 2011 that is run under the auspices of the South African National Defence Force – and specifically the Defence Reserves.
This youth development and skills training program is organised by the Defence Reserves Provincial Office of the Western Cape (DRPOWC) (Lieutenant Colonel Johan Conradie) in close cooperation with the Castle (Captain Francois Morkel) and the SA Army Band Cape Town (Director of Music Major Martin Chandler and group liaison officer Warrant Officer André van Schalkwyk), with the support of the Officer Commanding Army Support Base Western Cape in Youngsfield (Colonel Pieter Kobbie).
For the last seven years, the Army Band has given youth groups from previously disadvantaged areas in the Western Cape and with an interest in marching and bands an opportunity to participate in various kinds of events. Their programs often take place during the school holidays, which is a good way of keeping the kids out of trouble and doing something positive instead. The neighbourhoods in which many of these youngsters live are riddled with social problems, such as drug abuse, alcohol abuse, gang violence and crime.
The Army Band, which is a firm favourite at events such as the military tattoo in Cape Town, is strongly committed to building bridges between the community and the SANDF. They reach out to youngsters who are at risk of falling prey to the lure of gangs, drugs and crime, and encourage them, instead, to be good role models for their peers and fellow learners.
Being part of marching bands or drill squads teaches them positive skills and values, such as self-discipline, self-confidence, teamwork and leadership. The physical exercise of drilling after school not only improves their levels of physical fitness, coordination and concentration, but also teaches them to work together with others. A drill squad has to operate as a single unit, which requires cooperation and team spirit.
Remember that series of posts I wrote last year about the Army Band training the WP SMDEA Drill Squad in preparation for the 2010 Tattoo? The Squad had wowed audiences at last year’s tattoo. I hadn’t seen them since then, and was looking forward to their performance, almost a year later. (It’s incredible how quickly almost an entire year has passed!)
As a result, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday found me at the Castle, dashing around with my camera, taking copious amounts of photos of the various performances. As there were waaaaay too many photos to put into a single slideshow, I have selected the best ones, and uploaded these into separate posts.
Here are the links (here’s hoping that they work, as I am not sure how to put in links to posts that have not yet been published!):
- Monday – Drill Squad from the Western Province Schools Marching Drill and Exhibition Association (WP SMDEA) from Mitchell’s Plain
- Tuesday – The St Joseph Worker Church Lads and Girls Brigade, a fife and bugle band from Bishop Lavis
- Wednesday – the Marimba Dancers of the Likhwezi Arts Project from Gugulethu, Nyanga and Khayelitsha