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Destination: South Africa
Posted by Firdose Moonda on 06/16/2010

The band in Bafana Bafana jerseys.

Vuvuzelas are not the only instruments making a musical mark at this World Cup. A marimba band played melodious tunes at The Zone mall in Rosebank, Johannesburg as part of the joint celebrations for Youth Day and the day Bafana Bafana take to the field for their second match in this World Cup.

A marimba, for those who are unsure, is an instrument made of wood, with keys or bars similar to a piano that is played with two, yarn-wrapped mallets.

The Soweto Marimba Youth League (SMYLE) band played in the piazza of the mall, an area surrounded by restaurants and pedestrian traffic and they had a healthy audience to cheer them on. A group of touring Mexicans, Argentineans and Europeans as well as many locals crowded around the band to hear their beautiful brand of percussion, brass and occasional singing.

The music became more familiar as renditions of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On and the much-covered You Raise Me Up played but the crowd really joined in when the World Cup songs started.

The band started with K’naan’s Wavin’ Flag during which they took off their multi-coloured shirts to reveal green and gold Bafana jerseys. That was followed by a gorgeously clinky version of Waka Waka, Shaikra and Freshly Ground’s official World Cup anthem.

The band was formed from a group of underprivileged children from the area of Dobsonville in Soweto. The idea was to create a music program for learners from the schools in the area who did not have access to musical instruments. It is still without a music teacher but it does have the inspirational Johnny Hlaba at the helm. Hlaba is a gardener from one of the local primary schools and has a unique way of Africanising popular songs. He acts as a guide and teaches the pupils how to play their instruments.

The band has got a lot of exposure through the World Cup. They also performed at Jeppe Girls, a school east of Johannesburg, for their mock world cup tournament on May 1 – also a public holiday.

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