Gogos live up to the task

It’s official!

This past Women’s Day, Thursday 9 August, 30 Cape Town gogos from Khayelitsha and Langa, celebrated with about 241 girls – female learners aged between 8 and 23 years of age – in their bid to break the Guinness World Record for the Largest Marimba Ensemble.

The event took place in the Food Court of the Tygervalley Shopping Mall.

The previous world record was set up with the involvement of up to 108 participants and was held by an Australian ensemble­.

Last week’s event was organised by Marimba Jam, in association with Imbewu Marimba Community.

Kiara Ramklass (24), from Cape Town, and founder of Marimba Jam, has just been named one of the 100 Young Mandelas and was the recipient of the Amy Biehl Foundation’s 2012 Youth Spirit Award.

“Marimba Jam’s outreach programme offers musical education across Cape Town to address inequalities within the education system regarding musical education in underprivileged areas.

“The world record bid served to promote the importance of doing music at school, as well as to celebrate talented young women of South Africa,” said Ramklass.

Kiara added that the gogos had been brought unto the fold through various connections, but mainly through the Khayelitsha-based non-profit organisation, Grandmothers Against Poverty and Aids (Gapa).

“As a result of including this group of women in our activities and offering these dignified grandmothers an opportunity to jam on the marimbas during the day’s proceedings, we are giving them an opportunity to share anecdotes from their lives with our team and all present.

“This, to me, epitomises the spirit of Women’s Day ... Enabling us to celebrate South Africa’s most authentic, strong women,” Ramklass continued.

As a fitting tribute to South African women, the life stories of feisty Khayelitsha grannies now have a permanent place on southafrica.­co.za, a real-life digital archive and free-to-view online platform that showcases South Africa’s collective heritage.

Award winning photographer Eric Miller’s images appear with author Jo-Anne Smetherham’s text.

Smetherham’s text has been translated into South Africa’s eleven official languages.

The inspiring life stories highlight the tenacity, ingenuity, grit, humour, resilience and indomitable human spirit of these matriarchs, despite considerable sorrows and hardships spanning the rural and urban chapters of their narrative.

Encapsulating the spirit of Ubuntu, the grandmothers are there for one another, no matter the challenges life throws their way.

Instead of being recipients of care from their community, these unsung heroins have turned to fellow grandmothers, fellow carers and social activists, for moral support as they provide for Aids-orphaned grandchildren, unemployed adult grandchildren and children, as well as the ill and dying children.

The grandmothers are referred to as “the never-give-ups” or Amatsha Ntliziyo. The concept of giving up simply does not exist in their vocabulary.

They plant their own vegetables, deliver first aid and produce handcrafted items which help put bread on the table and encourage their children and grandchildren to complete their studies.

Founder and CEO of southafrica.co.za, Hans Gerrizen said: “The grandmothers and mothers are the backbone of the nation and this is our way of honouring grandmothers who are all too often the sole breadwinners.

“It is high time that the digital age empowers and educates, not least, today’s young women and we are creating a place where all South Africans can unite in celebrating our common heritage and gain a deeper understanding of not only our country but our fellow South Africans.”

In a bid to educate women on health matters, southafrica.co.za is concurrently rolling out articles on women-specific topics, which include women’s health.

Cape Town-based social documentary photographer Tracey Derrick’s Eye Inside exhibition of women prisoners in Malmesbury Prison also now has a home on the living digital archive.

An online exhibition of Dr Peter Magubane’s 100 most iconic images of Nelson Mandela features on southafrica.co.za.

A physical exhibition equivalent takes place until 30 September at the Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island, based at the V&A Waterfront and can be viewed daily from 08:00 to 17:00 and includes images of numerous iconic South African women.

Southafrica.co.za has organised and sponsored both the physical and online exhibitions­.

The exhibition is titled Mandela: 100 Moments in Time.