Something to Ponder

Ndlovu Youth Choir
Ndlovu Youth Choir

Nurturing Our Youth’s Rich Talent

Ndlovu Youth Choir’s rendition of ‘My African Dream’, conducted by choir director Ralf Schmitt and composed by South African-born Alan Lazar, aired on US TV on Tuesday night. The video, widely shared online was something to behold. The youngsters, all from Limpopo proved to the world once again that when our youth have mentors to help nurture their God-given talents, they can match any other youth of the world on level ground and win.

What Schmitt and Lazar have done is see beyond the poverty, and hopelessness of these children’s  backgrounds, recognized their talent in singing and decided to work with that. Ten years down the line, the youth from Limpopo on Tuesday lit not only American but the world stage.  Not only did they sing, they poured out their soul and even the world’s harshest judge on these talent competitions could not find fault with the delivery! With all the judges giving them the nod, the Ndlovu Youth Choir sailed smoothly to the next stage in the competition. We are all rooting for them. May they go all the way to win the talent show and help in cementing the name of South Africa on the world map as others before them have done.

Our youth fall into a life of drugs, crime and recklessness out of desperation. They begin school and from a young age are encouraged to study hard in order to land a good job as a doctor, engineer, teacher or whatever. The university or college graduate who cannot find a formal job losses hope in life because he believes employment is the only way he can make a living. He lacks guidance, someone to encourage and show him that he can still become someone and earn himself a living while using the knowledge he has acquired in formal education to enrich what he already has been endowed with naturally and grow his own talent to a point that it can start to sustain his life. The Ndlovu Youth Choir started in 2009 as an after-school activity community programme for disadvantaged young people in rural Moutse village in Limpopo. Members say that for them, the choir is not just a hobby, but a means to escape the many social problems surrounding them and their communities.

What the South African young people need are more Schimitts in our townships, in our schools and institutes of learning.  People who understand the youth and like talent scouts will help identify and guide these young ones in the way they should go about exploring other avenues to keep themselves self-employed.  Mentoring them from a young age and encouraging them to form groups with others of similar interests and together not only have fun, and keep out of trouble, but eventually, make something for themselves. Talent can be groomed together in groups or developed in individuals. This is one avenue that if properly utilized can help bridge the gap of unemployment.

We have a responsibility to train our young ones from an early age not to ever look down on themselves. It is not where one comes from but who they are as a person that matters. The fact that one is poor does not change his name to poverty. Education background or the lack of it should not be the determining factor of how successful one can be in life. No situation is permanent and things do change with the right mindset, guidance, moral support and hope. There are many successful young people like Caster Semenya who have become a success story because they have made good use of their talent by working hard to develop it. Hard work is the key. As the good book says, whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might. That is the description of hard work. In the end, it pays.

The Ndlovu Youth Choir have been at it for a good ten years. I am sure when they started, not even their choir master could have seen that far in the future. To have them on the world stage, mesmerizing the world with their well choreographed and belt up “My African Dream” anthem. Of the many things that have caused me to be proud of my African roots, Tuesday night, was one that goes down in my books as one of them. Well done Ndlovu Youth Choir. We will be looking out for more stunning performances from you.

You have set the bar high, you can soar even higher!

Lucy Thairu