Project Zulu brings South African Township children's choir to the West

Issue date: 07 May 2013

Project Zulu dancers and singers

The vibrant sounds of a primary school choir from Kwazulu-Natal will bring Bristol to life when it tours the West in May and June.

Project Zulu are an extraordinary ensemble of singing, drumming and dancing children from Sithobelumthetho Primary School in the Madadeni Township, KwaZulu-Natal. They have won numerous awards in regional and national competitions in South Africa and are now bringing their vibrant performances of traditional Zulu folk and gospel songs and eye-opening Zulu dances to the UK.

Project Zulu was set up by a group of education staff and students from UWE Bristol.

Senior Lecturer in Education Ben Knight said, “We have linked up with several partners in schools and organisations across the city to bring this astonishing primary school choir to Bristol.

“The aim is to raise funds to provide the township school with more affordable energy. The school's electricity supply is intermittent, unreliable and very expensive. The electricity is paid for out of school fees and only 50% of the 900 families can afford the fees. All profits from the tour will be used to purchase and install solar panels for the school.

“We want to help Sithobelumthetho to help itself by making use of the wonderful performing talents of its pupils.

“They will earn the funds to install solar panels on the school roof through their performances in the UK.”

The tour's finale is a gala concert on 6 June at the Colston Hall, Bristol, shared with some of the region's finest youth ensembles from Bristol Cathedral Choir School, Clifton College Preparatory School and UWE.

Being part of the choir strengthens the children's connection to their Zulu heritage. They will perform traditional songs and dances that are losing popularity among young Zulus in South Africa. The varied programme will also include massed renditions of 'The World In Union' and 'Sing' composed by Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The performances will enrich the lives of those they meet, in schools, homes, concert halls, town centres and those they reach through television and radio.

The list of venues in Bristol and the West includes Bristol Zoo, Almondsbury Church, Bath Abbey, Weston-super-Mare and the Colston Hall, Bristol.

Ben Knight's link with the school in South Africa goes back many years and last August he took a group of ten education students to work for five weeks on placement in schools in Madadeni.

Ben organised fund-raising events with friends to raise the money to bring the choir to the UK, including paddling a surf board from Bradford on Avon twenty-six miles to the Arnolfini in Bristol, and taking on the chilly waters of the Bristol Channel for a charity swim last December.

As well as performing concerts and busking in Bath city centre, the choir will visit schools to share their amazing talent and hold workshops. They will also perform at St David's Cathedral, Pembrokeshire, Nottingham, Manchester and at Covent Garden in London. The project plans to work with UWE Music Technology students to record a CD.

For more information see

Here are videos of the choir in action

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