Mi School: Celebrating diversity through faith-driven teaching

At The Love Trust’s Nokuphila School in Tembisa, the school celebrates cultural diversity daily. Supplied image.

At The Love Trust’s Nokuphila School in Tembisa, the school celebrates cultural diversity daily. Supplied image.

Published Oct 2, 2023


Johannesburg - Heritage Day is a day of national unity and a celebration of our rich cultural landscape. It was originally observed only in the province of KwaZulu-Natal as “Shaka Day”, a commemoration of King Shaka’s presumed date of death.

Under the new South African government, it was marked as an official public holiday to be known as Heritage Day. Nationally, this is taken as a day in which we celebrate our differences and spend time honouring the traditions our different cultural groups hold.

Faith as a unifying force

At The Love Trust’s Nokuphila School in Tembisa, the school celebrates cultural diversity daily. The chatter that rings through the hallways is made up of several of our 12 official languages, and many of the learners observe different cultural rituals and traditions at home.

However, a common thread that runs through the school and fills the hearts of the learners and teachers alike is its faith. As a not for profit educational institution, its learning outreach is faith-based, and its aim is to deliver quality Christian-based teaching.

As much as the community enjoys the school’s annual event, the teachers driving the Heritage Day concert love it even more. Teachers Asakhe Gidimisane, Abigail Musvosve and Sheila Madzikanda are the driving force behind the concert

Having celebrated Heritage Day with a concert for over a decade now, concert organiser Gidimisane said they enjoy switching up the components of the concert every year to make space for as many learners to participate as possible. The learners are selected based on their willingness to participate, and many of them will practise for months in advance.

This year, the Nokuphila School included an interactive storytelling session where the educators enthralled the audience with traditional folk tales, allowing the learners to partake and experience traditions passed down through generations of their ancestors.

They also included more contemporary performances, such as dance and a fashion show that allowed learners to showcase traditional dress from their cultures.

The teachers said the Zulu dance is one of the most popular in the school, and is widely done, with Zulu being the first additional language taught at Nokuphila. Zulu dance forms like Ukugida and amapiano are a great way for the learners to express themselves and their culture through movement, while many learners enjoy adding in elements of Western culture through their music choice or trendy dance moves.

The fact that modern music and dance moves are embraced by the teachers is indicative of the open-minded policy the school holds towards cultural differences, with teacher Abigail Musvosve saying that amapiano is enjoyed by many of their learners because of its use of Western instruments in its songs and movements.

Teacher Sheila Madzikanda was instrumental in putting together this concert, and she is passionate about what an effective tool for cultural promotion it is.

“The Nokuphila School’s Heritage Day concert proves its effectiveness in promoting and protecting cultural heritage – through this activity, students gain a greater grasp of their roots but also a wider perspective on the rich diversity of cultures that make up South Africa,” she said.

The learners at the Nokuphila School are comfortable talking about their different cultures and traditions, as this forms part of their curriculum. Aside from the Heritage Day concert, the learners also celebrate Africa Day at school to increase their understanding of how other cultural groups live.

As part of the learners’ regular timetable there is a Culture period once a week, presented in either English or Zulu, where teachers can stage dance, drama or poetry that highlights certain cultural groups. Learners are also encouraged to role-play by dressing up as a prominent figure from their own culture and educating the class on what this person has done to make them significant.

The Saturday Star