Heritage rules

2018-09-25 06:01
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“We are nature and nature is us.”

This was the message of the Lotus High School rap, performed at the Princess Vlei Flight of Dreams parade on Saturday 15 September.

“It was a day of old stories and young voices, of old and young dancers, of flying birds and flying dreams, and the boundless creativity of nature and of the youth who came together to celebrate it,” says Princess Vlei Forum secretary Brigett Pitt.

Over 150 children from a number of local schools from the greater Princess Vlei region have been preparing for the parade for several months, observing and learning about the birds of Princess Vlei, to guide their creation of puppets and masks for the parade.

Lotus High School learners cut out and painted the wings for their eight giant puppets. The parade also featured the eMzantsi Carnival Blokka band and eMzantsi Carnival puppet chameleons, as well as the Fairmount High marching band.

The parade is a collaboration between the Princess Vlei Forum, the Peter Clarke Art Centre, the Jungle Theatre Company, and eMzantsi Carnival.

It is held each year to raise awareness of the rich bird life and other nature at Princess Vlei, and to give the youth an opportunity to showcase their creative talents. Artworks created in this process were also on display at the PVF/PCAC art exhibition at the Grassy Park Library which ended on Friday 21 September.

The parade was followed by performances at Princess Vlei.

“The Jungle Theatre Company enacted an ancient Khoi legend, When Lion had Wings, which recounts the story of how the lion once could fly and terrorised all the creatures. The clever vultures and an insubordinate frog steal the lion’s sky magic, so that now the vultures can fly and the lion has to creep on earth. This was followed by a performance by the Lotus High learners, recounting the ancient Khoi legend of the Great Bird Race, in which a sunbird outwits an eagle to become the leader of the birds. Their performance finished with a rap declaring that they are the guardians of the Vlei, and encouraging all to care for the fynbos and other living things,” Pitt says.

The learners at Lotus High have formed a Lotus Princess Guardians Club, which does planting and cleanups at Princess Vlei.

The Constantiaberg and Elephant’s Eye Cave, visible across the waters of the Vlei, provided a powerful backdrop for these old stories, imagined into being by the people who lived near the great wetlands around Princess Vlei thousands of years ago.

“A highlight of the afternoon was Emile Jansen and Mixed Mense, who performed hip-hop songs and dances. Jansen pointed out the similarities between hip-hop culture and the ancient Khoi culture, and encouraged the youth present to take pride in their Khoi heritage. He told them: ‘One day we will wear T-shirts with the characters of our own legends, like /Kaggen, instead of Spiderman and Superman.’ He also encouraged people to get involved and take ownership of their neighbourhoods, rather than letting the gangs have control,” she adds.

Mixed Mense got the crowd dancing, although no-one could quite match the moves of dancers Charlie Eftha and Stefan Benting.

“It was a beautiful way to celebrate our cultural and natural heritage – and the passion and dedication of these learners certainly gives us hope that this heritage will cherished in the future.”

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