Bringing in the new year

Today started at midnight, with a New Year’s celebration, Together for Development style! We started with a presentation by students who wore their national costumes and introduced them to the group. That was followed by sparklers and dancing in the dining hall, as we brought in the new year.

Today was Arts and Creativity day. We let people sleep in a bit, and began the morning with a poetry writing session, designed to unleash creativity and show everyone they have an inner poet. The participants shared some really beautiful words, one of which we’ve printed at the end of this post.

In the afternoon, we had a series of workshops that use theatre, improv and art to teach life skills–everything from conflict resolution and mediation to non-violent communication and activism. Through role-playing, we explored different scenarios, and multiple ways in which they could play out.

After dinner and umbrella groups, we gathered in the assembly hall for “African choir.” One of our coordinators, Shakes, is a wonderful musician, and taught all four parts of Shoshaloza to the group. It was a really fun and joyous rendition, and you can see from this video.

We leave you tonight with a beautiful poem by one of our participants, Miyanda Mahlangu, which she wrote during today’s morning session.

I Am Not


I am not salt

I don’t stand out

I am not maize-meal

I don’t take time to slide down your throat


I am not sugar

I don’t get you hyped up

I’m not found in candy-flavored

By many but damaging to all


I am not wood

I don’t get fixed in one place and

Have to be moved by others


I am not tight jeans

I don’t have to be pulled

With a lot of effort

To your waist


I am not a mountain

Not moved, admired and left alone


I am not a bed, comfortable


Am I weather? Not easily predictable and

Constantly changing–I don’t know


Am I wine? Getting better with age?

I don’t know


Then…? What am I?


Dark chocolate-that tantalizing taste

On your tongue

That itchy enjoyment on the tip of your hair

To the tip of your toe


I am art-understood by many who appreciate me and

Not paid attention to by those who don’t know me

Who don’t understand the concept of me

But, that’s okay

I’ll be here ,still, patient, when you do


I am thunder-pregnant with ideas

Just like Luke having them poured onto

You with good measure


I am sunshine, favored in certain conditions

But, that’s okay


I’m your shoes

Always slipped on

And being comfortable to wear


I am not

What I am not

And who am I

Stick around-so you can know