Peter and I have just been to South Africa. The main purpose was to see the family, which was wonderful, but we had also asked our friend, Robin Opperman of the Umcebo Trust, if we could record any groups he knew and make a CD that they could sell to raise funds for themselves.
The first recording we did was at the Sinethemba Centre in Durban where we recorded boys who had been on the streets and were now being educated and integrated back into their communities. They did a polished performance of seven songs for us, most of them with a message about such subjects as aids, being on the streets, crime and other issues which are crucial to South Africa at this time.
The other group were in Limpopo, which used to be called Northern Province and the organisation was done by the Limpopo Arts and Cultural Association, led by Arlette Franks. The group of nine from Intact, all from the BaPedi tribe and speaking Sotho (and English), came up to Polokhane, the provincial capital, to perform for us over three days and we have an exciting recording of them which is currently being edited and made ready for sale.
We are very pleased that the Trust was able to put its expertise and experience into working with people who have little or no money and no chance of a job. After the recording we had a long discussion with the group about their way of life and ours and they were particularly fascinated by the work of the Guide Dogs.
Robin at Umcebo does amazing work with his people in traditional Zulu beading but with a modern designer twist. Everyone who comes to Umcebo has a special need in some way but that does not prevent them from being very creative. Want a chandelier or beaded aloe? No problem!
It was all very inspiring and we are delighted to have forged this international link with such splendid people.