ORANGE FARM – Young South Africans enthusiastically performed Zulu dancing and traditional African music as part of the lessons provided by the Jabulile Arts and Culture Society in the poor Orange Farm township, 45 kilometers (28 miles) outside Johannesburg.
Amid the classes in dancing and marimba music, a leader of the culture group paid tribute to Britain's Prince Philip, who died last week and whose Duke of Edinburgh Awards helped to fund the cultural group's activities.
“As an organization, we are quite saddened by the loss of His Royal Highness, but we also celebrate the life and the hope that he gave to millions of young people across the globe. This is really going to go beyond just the life that he has lived but we will continue his legacy,” said Palesa Matuludi, head of development for the Jabulile cultural group.
The South African youth group has been operating for the past 11 years as part of The President's Award an initiative empowering youths aged between 14 and 24. It has been operating in the country for the past 35 years.
Originally formed as the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award in 1956, the organization was rebranded in South Africa as the President's Award in 1994, and its activities are overseen by the Duke of Edinburgh Foundation. The foundation supports youth programs in more 130 countries and territories around the world, including 18 countries in Africa.
“It’s an amazing non-formal education program that empowers young people with various universal skills such as leadership, teamwork, confidence, being able to adapt to new environments," said Matuludi. "All those soft skills that are required (in life) but are not necessarily attained in a classroom.”
Sinehlanhla Mthethwa has been dancing in the Jabulile group for the past 6 years and has dreams of starting her own group in the near future.
“I want to open my own group and give people knowledge that I have from dancing,” she added. “It has helped me gain more skills and it saved me from being involved in things such as substance abuse, drug abuse, and alcohol abuse.”
Karen Melaphi, 34, is a choreographer who also teaches the marimba and started out in the Jabulile program 16 years ago.
“I have a passion for transferring skills to young people to develop young kids so that they cannot do bad things around the street because nowadays most people are smoking drugs," she said. “I teach them discipline and respect through arts and culture.”