The Izivunguvungu MSC Youth Band, started as a navy project in 1996, was temporarily silenced by Covid-19 but is now back in the swing of things.
Based at Kleinberg Primary School in Ocean View, lessons and rehearsals have resumed, mostly in outdoor areas, says Commander Mike Oldham of Fish Hoek.
On top of Covid restrictions, the students also have to take care because of ongoing gang shootings in the area, Commander Oldham says.
He organises the music tuition, with help from former students, some of whom have been in the project for ten years, and have performed in various venues, both in South Africa and in Germany.
Retired teacher Margaret Kindo ensures the students take the safest route home in the afteroons.
Ms Kindo says she volunteered to help, with no idea that 25 years later she would still be involved. And involved she is, in every aspect from admin to washing and ironing the band uniforms. She organises transport and food and accommodation when the band travels.
Her top priority though is the children’s safety, and her job is only done when every child is safely back home after each band practice.
She says the children have great respect and discipline, and once they become involved, they show immense dedication.
“I was a strict teacher, and I taught many of the children’s parents at school, and Commander is all about discipline too, so the children have structure and they learn to work as a team,” she says.
Her years of loyal service brought her two surprise overseas trips as a guardian with the band when they travelled to Germany in 2012 and 2014.
“It was the first time I ever flew or visited another country; it’s a good experience and opens your eyes. I am so grateful for it, and also that the children experienced this so young. It changes your thinking, the way you see the world.”
The band learns to read music and play a variety of instruments, and Ms Kindo says the positive affect of having such good learning experiences in Ocean View cannot be stressed enough.
Some band members have gone on to take part in their church bands, and the senior band members learn responsibility and leadership by helping teach the younger band members. “It’s all team work,” Ms Kindo says.
Commander Oldham says: “Living in the heart of Ocean View, with all its problems, Margaret knows the community extremely well, and her contribution is beyond measure.“
Another section of the project teaches sailing, managed by Kader Williams, an ex-student himself who also lives in Ocean View with his family.
The band hopes to perform again publicly later this year. For more information or to offer support to the band, contact Commander Oldham at firstname.lastname@example.org or 082 445 6857.