One of the things I loved most about living in Africa was the vibrancy of the various cultures there, and how it shone through in everyday living. In the USA, school assemblies in the morning typically consist of the Pledge of Allegiance and morning announcements. In South Africa, my school gathered for whole-school assembly three times a week. And those assemblies consisted of announcements and sometimes singing the national anthem. But they also had singing, dancing, prayers, and occasional skits.
Nearly 400 school children singing a cappella and moving to the music always made me happy. The depth of the melody and the joy on their faces never got old. And in that moment, the schoolgrounds were filled with life. Vibrant life.
This became a regular part of my time in South Africa, and I saw the kids come alive at assemblies in ways I never saw in the classroom. In general, music and dancing are important parts of African culture, and that’s true in Setswana culture as well. Unlike in our Western mindset, kids weren’t afraid to sing or dance in front of other, without the aid of instruments or musical training.
It was a natural part of life, and it was a normal part of their school day.
In Africa, life beats to a different drumbeat.
Watch this video of some of the Xitsavi girls singing during a choir practice. Beautiful, isn’t it?
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