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Last modified: 22 Feb 2017
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Kouga marimba band wows China

19 February 2017
Members of the Rock Steel & Marimba Band arriving home from a trip in China are: (back) Bafana Santi (centre) and Sagin Rala (first right); and (front) Banele Speelman, Ayanda Hlela, Abulele Silolo, Jo-Andre Swart, Grant-Logan Harris, Dean Kalo and a little fan. With them are (standing from left) Ward 1 Councillor Zolani Mayoni, Kouga Speaker Horatio Hendricks, Sarah Baartman District Executive Mayor Eunice Kekana and Kouga Councillor Virginia Camealio-Benjamin.

Members of the Rock Steel & Marimba Band arriving home from a trip in China are: (back) Bafana Santi (centre) and Sagin Rala (first right); and (front) Banele Speelman, Ayanda Hlela, Abulele Silolo, Jo-Andre Swart, Grant-Logan Harris, Dean Kalo and a little fan. With them are (standing from left) Ward 1 Councillor Zolani Mayoni, Kouga Speaker Horatio Hendricks, Sarah Baartman District Executive Mayor Eunice Kekana and Kouga Councillor Virginia Camealio-Benjamin.

Eight young band members from Sea Vista received a warm welcome home from parents and councillors on Thursday (16 February) after spending almost three weeks on a tour in China.

The Solid Rock Steel & Marimba Band was invited by the municipality of the Chinese city of Jincheng to perform at its celebrations to mark the Chinese New Year on 28 January.

They left the country from the OR Tambo International Airport on 25 January.

The invitation came after a Chinese delegation of learners, teachers and municipal officials from the city visited Kouga in August last year, and were wowed by the musical genius of the youngsters at the Cape St Francis Resort.

The visit was part of a series of educational exchange programmes which came about as a result of a Cooperation Agreement between the Jincheng City Municpality and the Sarah Baartman District Municipality, signed in 2008.

During the 2016 visit, a new Memorandum of Understanding was signed, committing the two municipalities to the facilitation of a mutually-beneficial learner/student exchange programme.

The jet-lagged band members Dean Kalo (band-leader and teacher), Abulele Silolo, Bafana Santi, Ayanda Hlela, Grant-Login Harris, Banele Speelman, Sagin Rala and Jo-Andre Swarts were welcomed at a short ceremony hosted by Kouga Speaker Horatio Hendricks at the St Francis Council Chambers on their arrival back home.

Hendricks congratulated the youngsters on their international achievement. With the exception of Kalo, they are all of a school-going age.

“Your lives will never be the same again. You have flown the Kouga flag, the district’s flag and the South African flag high and that, no one can take away from you,” he said.

The Speaker encouraged the band to use the trip as motivation to seek greatness in music and life in general.

Sarah Baartman District Municipality Executive Mayor Eunice Kekana, who met the boys at the Port Elizabeth International Airport, thanked the parents for entrusting the District with the lives of their children.

“We know that it was probably the longest time that you were separated from your children and the fact that they went to a foreign country compounded your worries,” she said.

Kekana said there would be more opportunities in the exchange programmes and these youngsters should serve as inspiration for others to participate.

The District bore the travelling costs for the trip while Jincheng covered the rest as hosts.