Spending three days in Kayamandi were some of the most unforgettable of my whole trip to South Africa.
I was excited to meet Mawande, Avella, Riri & all the other kids in Chris’ class I’d heard so much about & read about on his blog. They were all such lovely kids and the boys pulled faces once I started ‘aww’ing’ over them. Some of the kids seemed shy at first, but I wasn’t fooled for a second as they were shouting at the top of their voices moments later and taking part in one of the many classroom fights that happened through the day.
The best word to describe the classroom: chaotic. I’d say the day consisted of 15% learning, 15% copying from the board, 70% playing. It was a little frustrating to watch the English teacher “teach” by covering the board with words the children copied down letter for letter without understanding. She also wrote a list of common errors the children made in their writing, one of which was that “sentences does not make sense”. During Maths, the teacher started doing long multiplication on the board although it was clear that some of the children didn’t know their 4x table! However, once I realized how understaffed the school was, I began to understand why the teachers seemed to rush through lessons.
The girls taught us some words in Xhosa & told us their names though they laughed hysterically at our attempts to include the clicks in names like ‘Sinoxolo’. All of the girls are also amazing dancers from such a young age and they showed us the ‘Diski dance’ and tried to teach us the dance to the World Cup song ‘Waka Waka’ which I’ve been singing ever since! The girls also showed us some traditional Xhosa dances which they all did together.
One of the funniest moments of the day was when the kids were play fighting with Chris. What started off as one kid trying to jump onto his back ended up as six or seven little boys hanging from his back, neck, arms and legs.
After school we walked home with what seemed like about 15 kids! We played football outside Mama Zulu’s house & chilled inside. The girls loved taking pictures so much & what started off as a few photos turned into a shoot against the white wall of Mama Zulu’s house. Bucha, Mama Zulu’s grandson was at the centre of all the photos – he is the cutest little boy I’ve ever seen!
One of the girls called Zotara showed us her house which was down the road from Mama Zulu’s, and we met her little brother & sisters. Her house consisted of a main room with two tiny rooms off it which made it larger than many of the other houses in Kayamandi!
In the evening Chris, Alex & I headed to Stellenbosch for dessert at a cafe then met up with Isaac & others from his tour for dinner at a pretty good Italian restaurant. The whole group seemed pretty nice and we ended the evening with cocktails and shisha at Cubana which was a lot of fun. Tried copying Chris & blowing bubbles with the shisha pipe, but ended up spilling my cocktail all over myself instead!
The best part of Wednesday was taking Siphesihle and Sinoxolo out into Stellenbosch after school. The stark contrast between the tin roofed houses in Kayamandi & the town was startling. The girls told us they usually went to Stellenbosch once a year because things were too expensive there, so it was nice to take them out in the afternoon.
We went for a meal at Spurs & the girls seemed delighted with their ribs and chips. We had to tell them about five times they could use their hands if they wanted as they were determined to display excellent table manners and were struggling to eat ribs with a knife & fork. They told us all about their favourite food, music and all the things they loved to do. They also told us all about Christmas in Kayamandi and how many of them travelled to see their families in the Eastern Cape when their families could afford the R500 fare.
After dinner we headed to the bookstore & told them to pick out a book they liked. They both immediately picked out the kids version of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography & we all sat in the book shop and read together. I thought it was lovely that the kids had so much respect for Nelson Mandela from such a young age and took so much interest in his inspiring story.
As we said goodbye to Kayamandi, Sinoxolo & Siphesihle promised to read the books we bought to their little brothers & sisters.