National Children's Day Celebration
The focus for the activities was to develop a national identity through the popularization of our national symbols. These symbols are our identity and our heritage that can develop a sense of belonging among all its citizens. This sense of belonging is especially relevant for the youth who have a greater need of belonging and who are more vulnerable to exclusion. It is a serious challenge given South Africa's diversity.
During August-October 2005 grade 10-11 learners of South Africa were invited to submit written essays (1000 words) that capture their understanding and views about our national symbols.
A national panel evaluated these essays and schools of successful pupils were invited to receive their awards on Children's Day.
What are those things that make us believe we are one nation united in our diversity? It is our national symbols, which are the flag, anthem, coat of arms, orders, tree (yellow wood), animal (springbok), fish (galjoen), bird (blue crane) and flower (protea).
The Office of the Premier provided support to the process in the Western Cape and a task team were formed which included the Office of the Premier, Social Services, Education and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, which facilitated the preparation of the children for the presentation in KwaZulu Natal. The Department of Social Services and Poverty Alleviation provided the budget for the flights, transport and accommodation and managed overall logistics. The Department of Education facilitated the liaison with the participating schools and represented the province on the national panel to adjudicate the essays.
The Presidency identified the most improved schools in South Africa, 2004 and successful candidates from the winning schools in the various provinces attended the national event in Kwazulu Natal. 20 children from Edgemead High School, Muizenberg High School, Zola High School and Atlantis High School represented the Western Cape. The children were accompanied by 4 educators/chaperones to oversee their safety and protection. Karen van der Merwe (Arts and Culture), Derrick Schroeder (Social Services) and Irene King (education) were the coordinators of the Western Cape delegation who departed by plane from Cape Town International Airport on 4 November for Kwazulu Natal and returned on 6 November.
As children seated in one of halls at the Show Ground of the Royal Agriculture Society, the Sondolani Zulu School of Dance lead the dignitaries into the auditorium. A big screen came to life with a collage of pictures of South African Youth. The national Children's Day flag was hoisted to herald the beginning of the celebrations while the children united by singing the national anthem. A child praise singer was followed by a performance of the Hush DC hip-hop dancers and the Intinyane School, before Minister Pahad addressed the children.
The children discussed their views with Mr Essop Pahad, Minister in the Office of the President within the framework of a national Thakaneng session. A Thakaneng is a Sesotho term that means a space that is created for children to express their childhood through play, discussions, planning and purposeful interface with adults.
Although it is the children who submitted these essays and art forms, the awards went to the schools of the winners. The winning schools and learners received prizes that will contribute to their own development and that of their school:
- The winner of the 1st prize for the Western Cape was Sibongakonke Mama who were supported by fellow learners from Edgemead High School. She received an encyclopedia and R500 in cash and the school received an amount of R75 000.
- Ncumisa Hardy from Zola High School was the winner of the 2nd prize in the Western Cape. She also received an encyclopedia and R500 in cash and an amount of R30 000 was received by her school.
- The 3rd prize for the Western Cape went to Anil Kalan from Atlantis High School, who she also received an encyclopedia & R500 in cash and a computer & printer were given to her school.
The vibe and spirit in the auditorium was one of proudly South African unity when the children of the rainbow nation joined in by singing the following theme song for Children Day:
"One day it will be grand if all the children in the land
Will live as one, in peace and harmony
We will stand tall and be proud
and sing our anthem to the world out loud
As our flag flies free in the wind and our souls cry freedom
Like the real yellowwood forests
Like the springbok and the blue crane
We'll be the children of this land
Like the galjoen in our sea
Like king proteas we will be
Children of this bountiful land
We know it must be right
diverse people unite
to built this land into the shining light
It is destined to surely be our forbears
have shed blood so that we can live
as one let's all join hands and sing in harmony
Let's care for the land that is ours and she will care for us in return
Let's nurture it all for the future
Then the future will always be bright
NKOSI SIKELELA SOUTH AFRICA"
The national Children's Day celebrations are in line with the strategy of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport that outlined the provincial vision of a home for all with social inclusion and social cohesion as its ultimate outcomes. Cultural Affairs deals with the soul of the nation and speak a language that all people can understand, especially the youth. With the emphasis on the youth Cultural Affairs support the following social capital formation initiatives:
- Uniting our people
- Provide alternatives to our youths
- Build a sense of patriotism
- Develop role-models
- Celebrate our unique history; cultures and societies
- Contribute to highlighting our history and preserve our knowledge for future generations
- Contribute to the holistic development of especially our youth.
Children are our future leaders and have to be integrated into processes of defining and forging a national identity that must unite South Africans in their diversity. These are the signposts created by our forbears who have inspired our history and who watched over our leadership as they deliberated our future. A future filled with promise and guided by national symbols that inspire and inform our lives.
The celebrations and interview (questions by the children) with Minister Pahad will be broadcasted on Friday 11 November at 16:00 on SABC2 on Kidz news.