Young Oscar looked at his classmates at the Londolozi Digital Preschool with fear written all over his face. A normal day for Oscar involves practicing the alphabet. Counting to 20. Painting on an iPad.
But today, Oscar’s classmates were “dolling up” and applying make-up. They were rehearsing their “Mango Groove” performance (see video below). Posing for the paparazzi. And for the only boy in the class, none of this seemed very appealing. Especially when, thanks to the 38-degree midday heat, the rouge on his peer’s cheeks started to look more “Halloween” and less “Graduation”. Luckily help was on hand for wardrobe malfunctions.
The young preschoolers were getting ready for the 2014 Celebration of Learning, an event that brings the Londolozi team together to acknowledge the adults (and little adults) who have made a commitment to education, whether as mentors or students.
Oscar being Oscar, his spirit (and hips) started loosening up once the adults had put paid to their formal introductions and the dancing kicked in, and to his credit, he was one of the loudest “clappers” when it came to awarding the adult students their certificates – a variety of IT, Hospitality and Special Achievement awards.
But what Oscar may have missed is the emphasis this celebration places on mentors.
These are the teachers, family, and friends who see in others a potential worth fighting for. The people who see in you, more than you might see in yourself.
Like Tracker, Alfred Machavana who supported his son, Abna, on a journey of learning that now sees Abna as Head of the IT Academy at Hazyview Digital Learning Centre. A mentor in his own right.
Or Glory Manzini, who stood by her nephew, Teaman, through his darkest days, so that today he is an independent, talented, and abundant young man who has several qualifications and now dedicates himself to the empowerment of children in his community.
Yes, we are the most digital rural team in the world. And we have invested time and energy into our Londolozi Digital Learning Centre, but as Gogo Mo Groch very wisely says: “At the end of the day, it’s about the human software.”
Oscar might not know that (yet), but his mother certainly does. And as we ended our celebration with the capping of our youngest humans, it was an honour to be among this group of human software, filled with true mentors, and a graduating group of preschoolers who – if nothing else – were standing in front of an audience that believed in their potential.
Here are some of the photos from the day:
Special thanks to Gogo Mo Groch, Shan Varty, Pastor Solly Mhaule and Mama Sipiwe Solomons, Reckson Dlamini, Kate Groch and Good Work Foundation, and Tammy Surtees.