Freedom is a poet’s beat

2017-05-09 06:01
Award-winning author and poet Haroldene Tshienda (centre) with Grade 11 learners and teachers of Kensington High School.

Award-winning author and poet Haroldene Tshienda (centre) with Grade 11 learners and teachers of Kensington High School.

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“Schools don’t educate the learners enough about our freedom fighters, our human rights and the Constitution of South Africa,” says Award-winning author and poet Haroldene Tshienda.

Tshienda says there is a need to educate the new generation about the history of South Africa, especially the freedom fighters who gave up their lives to fight the apartheid government.

This was her impression after learners of Kensington High School became emotional when she shared the history behind and reasons for celebrating Freedom Day.

About a week ago, she had a four-hour session with Grade 11 learners after she was invited by a teacher to share her inspirational knowledge through poetry.

Her sessions for different classes in the library emphasised the meaning of Freedom Day and the need to commemorate the people who sacrificed their lives for South Africans to have freedom of education, speech, voting and more.

“A few learners were in tears as they related to the stories I told of rejection, racism, discrimination and freedom of movement in our own communities.

“I realised then that schools don’t educate the learners enough about our freedom fighters, our human rights and the Constitution of South Africa.

“It is time to get more access to schools to portray these beautiful and authentic stories of South Africa using performance poetry, song and literacy,” says Tshienda.

“The interest shown by these young people was astonishing as they took to heart each and every word spoken by me and my team.”

Besides reciting poems to the beat of a djembe drum, Tshienda sang the national anthem followed by the struggle song “Senzeni na”.

Most of the poems she shared come from her new book, Black Poetry.

Tshienda comes from Kuils River and is a founding director of Tshienda ­Publications.

Hazel Manuel, deputy principal of the school, says the idea behind inviting Tshienda was to make learners aware that 27 April is more than just a public holiday.

She says the majority of the learners appreciated the session, saying it had made them aware of facts they never thought about.

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