As the world surrenders to civilization, Africa is quickly losing touch with its traditions and the Zulu people of South Africa are no exception. However, many South African kids have found a way to reconnect with their heritage — and enjoy international acclaim — by learning to play the marimba, a traditional musical instrument used by the Zulus.
With this long-forgotten musical tool, the children have attracted an international audience who love their different interpretations of classical pieces by Beethoven and Vivaldi on the marimba, according to CNN.
“The Marimba Hubs is a concept that we have started in South Africa to take children off the streets. What we do is train teachers from scratch who have never ever played the instrument before, and we get them to teach their pupils,” Joan Lithgow, a music specialist running the program, said.
“It’s like someone (who) wants to get in to the rugby or the cricket team. It’s a very exciting instrument.
Watch the school children play the marimba here:
Lithgow hopes the children will become the professional marimba players of tomorrow and pass on their knowledge to others.
Last year, the band from Goedehoop Primary School enjoyed a cultural tour of the United Kingdom, where they interacted with children from several schools in London.
At the moment, the students are already participating in the International Marimba and Steelpan festival, organized by Educate Africa, a non-profit program designed to assist children from disadvantaged families in South Africa to obtain quality and relevant education.
The international festival aims to inspire creativity among school children and showcase diversity in culture. The event attracts participants from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Swaziland.
“Not only is it [the Marimba] socially acceptable for boys and girls, alike, it also offers emotional, physical, intellectual as well as musical satisfaction,” Education Africa claims.
Marimba Hubs lessons do not require prior knowledge of the instrument, allowing all children and teachers to learn a piece of marimba music in just 40 minutes.
BY FREDRICK NGUGI