“…..what makes the UWC community is its diversity” – Ronnie Kasrils
The 2017 UWC day was such an unbelievably great day, accessorised by colour in the form of beautiful traditional attire, delicious food and dances from across the globe; representing the diverse people who are part of the WK UWCSA community. Few would have predicted the amazing weather that was enjoyed, given the unreliable weather patterns preceding the big day. April 8, 2017 will live in the memories of about a thousand UWC Day participants forever!
It started with inspirational opening remarks by Link Group leaders who mentioned that UWC day is about internationalism and the celebration of diversity, unending tolerance and respect, which all come together to make a peaceful world. The event’s mood, and to a larger extent the essence of the day itself, was well encapsulated in Onele’s words, “This is about celebration of different cultures through attire, dances, food and more.”
The first performance came from the school choir, which rendered a catchy performance, invigorating participants and bracing them for an exciting day of music, drama, poetry, dances and entertaining speeches. The traditional Swazi dances picked up and built on the momentum; they got everyone on their feet and putting their hands together in a fashionable way. From the guest speaker, to the enthusiastic parents, as well as the wonderful students and alumni who were full of laughter, UWC had arrived in the amphitheater with a bang!
Guest speaker Ronnie Kasrils was introduced by Ramila Patel soon after the Swazi dance. Ms. Patel thanked the school management for inviting Mr. Kasrils. She further thanked the Link Group and everyone who had made UWC day a reality. Ronnie was introduced to the assembly as a South African freedom fighter who joined the African National Congress (ANC) as well as its military wing, Umkhonto Wesizwe (MK) and eventually becoming Head of Intelligence for the latter. He lived an underground life in exile, travelling between countries such as Angola, Tanzania, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique. He was appointed deputy minister and ultimately a minister in the new democratic government in South Africa. He served in the ministries of Defense, Water Affairs and Intelligence and Security. He is now a writer and an activist for social justice and peace.
As a vivid demonstration of his extensive travel and interaction with Africans, when he took over the stage, Ronnie greeted the audience using numerous African languages. He went on to pass his gratitude for being invited to speak at UWC day, before talking about how Swaziland and other Southern African countries made a huge contribution to South Africa’s freedom struggle against apartheid. “We were well received in most of the African countries,” he said. He continued to talk about how, in spite of the plethora of problems engulfing the world, the younger generation has to remain optimistic. “The diversity that I see in the UWC community gives me hope. It shows that the world can live in peace when we embrace each other and celebrate our diversity. At the core of the UWC values is diversity which is part of humanity. Humanity is very important. It starts with doing something about those in need; it starts with stopping at a street corner and giving to the person asking for food; it starts with our appetite to end hunger and suffering anywhere in the world,” he said.
Towards the end of the assembly session, the Form 5 marimba group took to the stage and got everyone putting their hands together in abundant appreciation. This was followed by a gumboot dance performed in memory of the men and women who were working and living in mines during apartheid. “These men and women used to sing as a diversion to suffering,” exclaimed the dance group leader, Lerato, at the beginning of the performance.
At the end of the assembly, Ms. Tracey Stewart passed the vote of thanks; appreciating the Link Group for organizing the UWC day. “If you have been involved in events planning you will know the amount of work that goes into organizing an event of this magnitude,” she said. The assembly ended with the Parade of Nations and national costumes.