It’s music to children’s ears

Civil Society Award
Field Band Foundation

Young South Africans are marching to their own drumbeat — and they are doing it with pride, thanks to the Field Band Foundation.

Established in 1997 by well-known South African philanthropist Bertie Lubner, the foundation has inspired and motivated young people from rural and urban communities by helping them to participate in band activities. It boasts a membership of more than 5?000 youths between the ages of seven and 20 years, who live across eight provinces.

The foundation works in partnership with parents, local government and local and international sponsors to address the challenges of poverty, unemployment and education. “Every South African has a responsibility to uplift others. Parents who come from a generation of unemployment because of past inequalities struggle to look after themselves and their children. We need to work together to prevent another generation in distress,” said Kate Read, the foundation’s administrator.

Last year the organisation established a Field Band Academy in KwaZulu-Natal that is not just a high-level music school but also a provider of leadership, management, communication and life skills. “HIV/Aids awareness is at the core of our life skills training. We teach young people to make responsible choices in life and to be accepting of people living with the illness,” said Mammuso Makhanya, head of programmes.

The Field Band Foundation takes a holistic approach towards tackling HIV/Aids-related issues at community level. Its Children in Distress ­programme extends support to child-headed households through the provision of food, mentorship, healthcare and basic household needs, as well as school uniforms and clothing.

It also assists children to obtain official documentation so that they can access the government services to which they are entitled. In addition, each band has a social officer who gives emotional support and keeps abreast of the needs of the children.

Makhanya believes it is crucial to address issues of diversity and gender stereotyping. “One of the ­challenges we face is parents who burden their girl children with chores while boys are allowed to play instruments,” she said. The foundation tries to encourage girls to blow their own trumpets — literally.

During the 2010 Fifa World Cup it fielded 400 youngsters who performed during the opening and closing ceremonies. “We had the whole world watching and the level of performance was excellent,” said Makhanya. “Today we have field band members who perform in youth orchestras nationwide.”

The foundation’s catch phrase is compelling: “Once a field band member, always a member.” Children who move through the ranks of the band often become tutors and pass on their knowledge to others. “In these communities, once you’ve gained a skill like that you earn respect. No one can take that away from you,” said Read.

The judges praised the Field Band Foundation for using music to instil hope, discipline and self-confidence in young South Africans from all backgrounds and communities.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Ayanda Sitole
Ayanda Sitole
Ayanda Sitole works from Johannesburg South Africa. Writer. Photographer. Proudly SA Ayanda Sitole has over 684 followers on Twitter.

ConCourt settles the law on the public protector and interim...

The Constitutional Court said it welcomed robust debate but criticised the populist rhetoric in the battle between Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Minister Pravin Gordhan

Where is the deputy president?

David Mabuza is hard at work — it’s just not taking place in the public eye. The rumblings and discussion in the ANC are about factions in the ruling party, succession and ousting him

Press Releases

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday