Friday 30th November marked the opening of the 21st Mandela Day Library at Kebinelang Middle School in Manthe village, North West province, five hours west of Johannesburg.
By the time Breadline Africa arrived at the school, parents, community members and learners were already gathered underneath the marquee. The 5 hour drive to get to the school did not deter either BLA, Puo staff nor Standard Bank staff members.
Upon arrival one could tell that the container library had been placed at the right school. The Soul Buddyz reading club stood out from the crowd in their identifiable Soul Buddyz outfits. The learners danced with vigorous passion and great ease. The choir sang totally undeterred by the vicious whirlwinds that swirled within the school grounds.
The dynamic programme coordinator, Mr Mpshe, welcomed all the guests and requested the learners to start with the national anthem. Once all the guests were introduced, Mr Mpshe cited his shock at discovering that today some grades 6, 7 and even grade 8 learners are unable to read and write. He demanded that this behaviour ends today. Mr Mpshe commended the Soul Buddyz Facilitator for having had countless late evenings at the school working with her reading clubs learners. Her perseverance, determination and hard work in obtaining a library has paid off today.
Mrs Teheben, the Soul Buddyz Facilitator then gave a quick history of how the school has been striving to make a difference every year. She spoke about how she started with just one reading club, which has grown to 4 reading clubs in the past four years. She spoke about the challenges of having reading clubs without a library – yet this did not deter her. She spoke proudly about how her prayers had been answered as they now have a container library that they can call their own.
Puleng Phooko from Breadline Africa thanked all the partners who have made it possible to have the library in the North West. She also mentioned that although circumstances did not allow the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, LegalWise, Help2Read and Soul City staff to attend the event, they had truly wanted to share this day with the school. She thanked Standard Bank for having sponsored the library.
Kirsten van der Nest from Standard Bank spoke about how she and her colleagues felt so welcomed by the school, the parents and the learners. She said she was happy that Standard Bank, celebrating 150 years this year, was pleased to have chosen Kebinelang to share this momentous episode in Standard Bank’s lifespan. She also thanked all those who have supported Standard Bank throughout the years as Standard Bank is what it is today because of those supporters.
Mrs Moepeng, one of the school teachers, said not only had the school benefitted from the library, but also the parents, caretakers, the teachers and the community at large had benefitted. She therefore expects everyone to be involved in the library, to care for the books and the library as if they belonged to them. She said that social networks can be both good and bad. It is time we used those social networks in a positive manner by building our knowledge and expanding our thinking. She urged parents to support the use of the library and to encourage their children to empower themselves.
Mrs Mphakedi ended the speeches by thanking all the partners for their support and for having joined hands, she thanked all teachers, the Soul Buddyz Facilitator and parents for their support. Her parting words were “When you are a leader at a school, you want to see your learners going forward. She said she hoped that the library will diverge the learners from the streets, drugs, alcohol and other negative influences”. She said that nothing pleases her more than seeing the library on the school grounds.
The library was then opened by Kirsty van der Nest assisted by Tim Smith and all the guests and the Soul Buddyz children were invited to enter and inspect it.
Written by Tim Smith (Director of Breadline Africa)