Ndlovu Youth Choir, The Peace Ambassadors
They went to the competition without knowing how much they would make a mark on the world stage. The youthful energetic youngsters had the American and indeed the world music lovers sit up and not only take notice, but root for them. They did not win the competition, but, they won the hearts of the world. With every presentation, the colourfully attired choir members would jump, twirl and oh, sing with such boundless energy and reckless abandon that they never failed to have judges and the crowd on their feet clapping and swaying to their music.
Everyone who has followed the American and Britain got talent shows knows how one of the judges, Simon Cowell is the most feared of all the judges for his stern and ruthless judgement. Simon does not hesitate to brutally tear down a nervous competitor for substandard presentations. Yet to hear him say to the Ndlovu team, “we have always been looking for such a choir…” or “when you perform, I don’t know what it is, you guys if I could bottle it, I would drink it every day!” is really something. He even went as far as signing a music deal with the choir! Another judge, Gabriella during the finals as the choir performed their last song said, “You are the pride of South Africa, you are the pride of America, this whole performance, you have literary changed your entire trajectory with one performance, thank you!” and judge Howie, “You are a window to the world.” None could escape the charm of the youth from Limpopo, they and the audience, America and the worlds’ hearts and emotions were captured.
But who are these young people who on their arrival at the OR International airport, had the whole place in an uproar? The media personnel wishing for a word from the team members could only watch as throngs of people surrounded the youth choristers and ululated in jubilation, hugging, kissing and lifting the choir master shoulder high. The youth group, according to their leader and instructor Ralf Schmitt, started ten years ago in Limpopo province, in one of the poorest areas. The group was formed to help the youth keep from wrong activities and to give them something they could own, something that they loved and were motivated to do. Singing has cemented this group together over the years to become one of the most celebrated youth groups in the world right now.
Introducing the group during their first performance at the America Got Talent Show, Sandile Majola, one of the young people told the judges and audience that they wanted to show the world that it is ok to dream, dreams do come true. The choir conductor said, the children have come from one of the poorest communities in the world and they wanted to tell other children in the world that “just because you were born in poverty, it does not mean you are poverty!” What a positive mind set these youth have. Being born in poverty does not define you, coming from an impoverished background does not necessarily translate to one being poverty impersonated. South African youth need to hear this and hear it loud. Being from a black community, from a poor background should not automatically translate to one becoming a thug, robber, rapist or killer. It is not where you come from that matters, it is where you are going. It is not how you start off in life, it is how you finish that is important.
Most youth in South Africa seem to have it internalised in their being that just because they did not grow up in a rich neighbourhood, the world owes them something and it should be expected that they will take from those who have by force as this, they seem to believe, is what is expected of them. No! This is totally wrong. Young people, if the world throws you lemons like the young ones from Limpopo has shown you, take the lemons and make lemonade and share it with the world. Most of the members of the Ndlovu Youth Choir are orphans, often with younger siblings to take care of, or from a single parent impoverished background. Yet, they did not look at their life circumstances and choose to go the rogue route. They accepted their lot, took up the challenge, worked extremely hard and voila! They are now known all over the world and have put their poor village of Moutse in Limpopo on the world map. They did not sit with an attitude of entitlement, moving around with a grudge and anger as if the world owes them something. They took what they had, their musical talent and nurtured it till it lit up the world stage.
At a time when South Africa’s reputation has taken a beating due to the events that occurred last month of the so called xenophobic attacks against fellow black immigrants, at a time when the world is still looking on in horror as women and girls are killed all over the land mercilessly, what a beautiful breath of fresh air the Ndlovu Youth Choir is! For a moment there, not only South Africa, but the continent of Africa forgot the dark and painful goings on and laughed and danced in celebration of her young people. Comments on social media from other Africans, in countries like Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria, calling the South Africans “brothers”, “sisters”, and “cousins” and “you made Africa proud,” evoked emotion. This is as it should be. The rest of Africa was also rooting for the South African choir. “Thank you for supporting us cuz,” or “we are one people” are some of many responses from the South Africans to their brothers and sisters across the continent. Had Africa been able to vote, Ndlovu Youth Choir would have easily taken top position. Africa is still rooting for the beautiful young people, their dreams are valid and they will go far.
Such comments from around Africa and within South Africa go to show that we, as Africans identify with each other as brothers and sisters. We are family, we are one people. That is why when atrocities like has been witnessed recently occurring in South Africa, the larger community is left hurting and confused. Fighting and killing each other is not the way to solve our differences if and when they occur. When one wronged by another, there are other means such as the law and leadership in the jurisdiction where the wrong has been committed. The ordinary people should not take the law in their own hands and mete death sentences left, right and centre, to both the wrongdoers and the innocent.
With the Ndlovu Youth Choir jetting in on Friday night last week and the air of joy and celebrations they have brought with them, here is hoping that a new chapter is opening for South Africa and that healing of the sores that are still raw from past events may start healing. Thank you Ndlovu Youth Choir for being such good ambassadors for this great nation. A few more like you and we can be have hope that the South Africa of tomorrow will be in good hands. All is not lost.