From South Africa: A joyful song of safety and conservation
about how to wash your hands
Many thanks to Mthoba Chapi, communications officer of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (Sub-Saharan Africa) and to Natalie Hinds, choir manager, and her team for their roles in obtaining this story.
Two teenage members of South Africa's Ndlovu Youth Choir recount the why, how and the impact of a video that joyfully describes how to properly wash one's hands when water is scarce.
The choir comes from Moutse, Limpopo, one of South Africa's poorest regions. There, as in many communities around the world, running water is a precious resource. The choir shows how to wash one's hands using water from a bucket to conserve as much water as possible while still accomplishing this key defense against the virus.
Ndlovo Youth Choir members Simphiwe Mahlangu and Nonhlanhla Somo first introduced themselves and then answered some questions about making the choir's video about how to wash hands when running water is scarce and how the singers themselves are coping during COVID-19 pandemic.
Please tell us a bit about yourself, what you do and How do you feel about being part of the choir?
Simphiwe Mahlangu: I live in Phooko Dennilton (Limpopo) and I am 15 years old. I live with my granny, uncle, aunty and my two siblings. My mother and father are working in the city. I am in the Ndlovu Youth Choir since February 2018. From the first moment I joined the choir I knew that I was destined for something great and I am really happy. I never thought that one day, God could make me on top, because I always thought that I was meant to be somewhere down. I mean, I am the first person in my family to get on a plane! That is why I am so proud of myself. I feel so happy because for once in my life there is a change that I will never forget. I have travelled to far places and even my peers wished they were me. My parents are really proud of me.
Nonhlanhla Somo: I’m from Elandsdoorn in Dennilton (Limpopo). I am 17 years old doing grade 10 and I’m a chorister at the Ndlovu Youth Choir. Being part of the choir means a lot cause it’s not all about singing and going to competitions. It’s all about care and love that we have for each other; we are like a family when we are together. Being in the choir helped me to not do bad things or end up being a street kid ending up smoking dagga but it kept me to a safe place.
How has the Coronavirus affected you and the choir?
Simphlwe: I would usually say at the end of the year that this next year would be the year I wished for. But with 2020 I was wrong. There is this disease Corona or Covid-19 which also affected me. I was looking forward to learning and trying new things with the choir, because when I am on stage, I just become another person. I become very happy. I forget about all the negativity in my life when I communicate with my choir members. Before I used to be alone in the bushes, had no direction about what I wanted and used to talk to myself as if I were crazy. But since this lockdown we hardly see each other and I miss it.
Nonhlanhla Covid-19 has affected me and the choir in many ways because we cannot do our rehearsals and cannot tour anymore and see other worlds and we cannot sing for people.
Please tell us about the Wash Your Hands video? Are you happy with how the video was received and what happened since the video?
Simphlwe: I was so happy to be able to do the “wash your hands” video, it was really exciting to be part of this. I was playing drums and running around like crazy while playing. We clearly did this video because we wanted to show people around the world that washing your hands is really important especially in this time of disease. We hope that by watching this video people have learned something. We got a lot of views and likes. We did some more recordings that were shown on TV and when I saw myself I thought: this is just the beginning!
Nonhlanhla: The wash your hands video was made before the lockdown and we wanted to share to the world that we can fight this no matter how hard it can be. Nothing is impossible, we just have to stick with the rules always wash your hands, stay at home so that we can never get infected with the sickness. I’m very happy with how the video came out, people all around the world got the message that we shared throughout the world and they responded to it very nicely. Since the lockdown started nothing much has happened until the whole company of Ndlovu started to do the “green studio” in which we can perform live through streaming and people can see us again doing what we love at all times
What would you like to say to other young people around the world about the Coronavirus?
Simphlwe: I would like to say: Guys, Coronavirus is real and it is there. It changes everything. But this is the time to think what we actually want in future. This pandemic is not there to destroy our dreams or talents. It does not mean that you should give up on something you have been battling to get all these years. Never give up your dreams. Time to shine. This disease will not be there for ever!
Nonhlanhla: I’ll like to say to the people out there that this is not our end. Stand up high, always wash your hands keep your children safe. Never go out. Listen to the instructions. Everything will pass. We can fight this virus no matter how hard it can get. We stand up tall. Stay safe!
©Ndlovu Youth Choir 2020
Nonhlanhla Somo in action
©Ndlovu Youth Choir 2020
Simphiwe Mahlangu in action
©Ndlovu Youth Choir 2020