UBUNTU stars a force for change | Central Coast Grammar School

UBUNTU stars a force for change

CCGS recently welcomed fourteen talented graduates from the world-renowned African Children’s Choir as part of their three-month Australian ‘Make that Change’ tour.

This was the second time UBUNTU have journeyed to the school with the visits providing a rich, energising and genuine cross-cultural exchange for both students and performers.

Heralded as the future leaders of Africa, the gifted 18-20 year olds are on tour before heading back to their homeland to enter university and - as the tour name suggests - make a positive change in their villages.

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UBUNTU performers host workshops with CCGS students.

A warm welcome

The school community relished the opportunity to learn about African culture while also sharing with the UBUNTU performers a taste of daily life in Australia.  

Year 1 welcomed performers into their dance class, Year 2 invited them into their classroom to help with tricky spelling cubes, and a friendly game of soccer with the senior students saw UBUNTU defeat CCGS 5-4.  

Their school stay culminated in energising and educational workshops with students from Kindergarten right through to Year 12. UBUNTU performers connected with students through song and dance, leading to a deeper understanding of African culture including the Maasai people, traditional African food and dress, the importance herbal medicine and why calling elders ‘aunty’ and ‘uncle’ is a sign of respect.  

Over 600 community members packed into the Performing Arts Centre to witness their evening show where performers interwove stories of their time with the children’s choir and their escape from the cycle of poverty with poignant songs and rhythmic tribal dance.

Ubuntu-performers-in-the-classroom

Real-world experience

Performers also took part in a day’s work experience where they could immerse themselves in the local culture and be exposed to real-world skills in their chosen field.

Two aspiring lawyers witnessed Gosford and Wyong Courts in action as part of their time with a law firm, another worked with a local environmental scientist to explore coastal erosion, and a passion for interior design saw one performer spend a day inspecting the fitout of a new housing development.

Emmanual Mutsinzi a budding journalism and communications student was delighted to tour the ABC Central Coast radio station as part of the group’s live interview and performance.

Singer and performer, Martha Namujju got a masterclass in song writing from Gina Jeffreys and even got to record the song they’d written in the studio together! She said the lessons learnt from their day together will stay with her as she chases her dreams back home in African.  

A host family connection

For new CCGS family, Ken Gatheru and Sally Bowen this was their first time as a host family - an experience that was made all the more special due to Ken’s African heritage.

Here, Sally reflects on hosting Jacob Nguo from Kenya and Emmanuel Opolot from Uganda. 

What motivated you to become a host family?

We wanted to become hosts for a few reasons. Firstly, my husband Ken is originally from Kenya. He migrated to Australia in the year 2000 and loves any opportunity to connect with people from his homeland. He also loves being able to speak Swahili!

Ken loved the opportunity to give Jacob and Emmanuel advice. They both start university at the end of the year. They said to us that they loved being able to meet Ken, who came from the same background as them, and has succeeded in his career. 

We also wanted to be hosts because our oldest daughter, who is in Kindergarten, is a very keen performer. She sings and dances and loves music. We thought that hosting would be a great way for her to meet professional performers and see their show, while learning more about her own heritage. Macy was so inspired by the boys. When they did the workshop at school, she had her hand up for every question. The boys said she was desperate to be involved and told her peers that she was a “Kenyan expert”. At the concert, she went on stage for the finale and danced her heart out. Ken and I think it’s the Kenyan in her blood!

Was there a story or experience of your time together that has had an impact on you?

Emmanuel told us a story about when he first toured with the choir. He was at dinner with his first host family and they gave him a glass to fill with water from the jug. He filled the glass so full that it was spilling onto the floor. He had to be reminded that the water supply was not going to run out and he could always refill his glass. This reminded me of the struggles that so many children face across Africa.

The boys were incredibly respectful. They helped us cook, which was a lot of fun, and they loved playing with our baby who is 16 months old. The whole experience was truly uplifting and I will never forget it. 

Performers-with-their-homestay-family
Jacob and Emmanuel from UBUNTU together with their host family.

About the African Children’s Choir

Since it began in 1984, the African Children’s Choir has helped over 55,000 of the country’s most vulnerable children escape the cycle of poverty. The choir supports children to fulfil their potential and create a better life for themselves and their country by providing a full education and opportunities to tour the world.