Project Zulu choir returns to UK to captivate audiences and schools

Issue date: 02 May 2018

Project Zulu choir returns to UK

A children's choir from a township in South Africa is once again coming to the UK in May and June, thanks to Project Zulu, a UWE Bristol initiative that gives the youngsters the opportunity to perform in several schools and venues. As part of the scheme, students from the University will travel to the same township and wider region to volunteer in schools in August.

From 17 May - 10 June, 20 school children aged 11 to 14 from two schools in the Madadeni Township in KwaZulu-Natal province will put on lively performances involving drumming, singing and dancing in traditional Zulu costumes. As well as taking part in workshops in schools in the Bristol area, the choir will also perform in concert venues in London, Bath, Cardiff, St David's, with a final show in Bristol set for 8 June.

Project Zulu is a charitable initiative that works with six schools in the township and invites a group of performers to the UK every two years. Previous concerts have been extremely well received, with tickets selling out fast.

This year's tour – the fourth since Project Zulu was set up in 2012 – is made up of singers from Umcebowolwazi and Siyawela Primary schools.

The pupils will also record a CD of their songs in a music studio provided by Clifton College, in Bristol, where UWE Bristol students will record and later mix the songs. All proceeds from the tour, including the sale of the CDs, will contribute to developing facilities in the two schools. In previous years, the scheme has raised up to £30,000 to fund IT centres, solar panels, classrooms, repairs to infrastructure and equipment.

Ben Knight, who is Project Zulu founder and a Senior Lecturer in primary education at UWE Bristol, said: “The ethos behind Project Zulu is to empower these young people to earn money that will benefit current and future generations of pupils in their schools. Using their talent and amazing confidence in performance that they have in abundance, they will help fund important projects such as reliable water and energy supply and access to learning technologies.”

As well as inviting pupils to perform in the UK, every year Project Zulu offers UWE Bristol students the chance to travel to the South African township and outlying communities to volunteer in schools. In August, 43 students from across the University's four faculties will travel to the region to put their professional skills to good use on a variety of practical and educational projects in 10 schools.

Education students go into classrooms to teach, occupational therapists are to help out with special educational needs assistance, while engineering students will work on projects to install rainwater harvesting and filtration systems.

Meanwhile computer science students will help develop computer networks within schools and develop digital literacy skills with teachers and pupils. History students will also run field trips to local sites with teachers, while members of the University's rugby team will run tag rugby coaching sessions and tournaments with the schools.

To capture the experience, film students will also film the whole experience and produce a series of documentary shorts to promote UWE Bristol's work through Project Zulu.

“All of this is built on our longstanding relationship with the township and is great for everybody. Our primary concern is what this community needs and how we draw on skills of staff and students at UWE to meet some of those needs. But it is a two way street. Our students also get fantastic personal and professional development experiences, as well as broadening their horizons and becoming truly global in their thinking and perspectives,” said Ben.

For more information on Project Zulu and tour dates, click here.

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