WATCH | There’s nothing conventional about this class. Here, kids move to their own beat
In the quiet township of Kwanokuthula, a djembe drum echoes through a hall. Children move to the tempo.
The pace quickens. Dozens of feet spring from the floor. Hands flee in every direction. Timorous voices now burst into song, one here, one there, until all are in perfect unison.
Performer and teacher Amanda Valela slaps the rawhide one final time – this is no ordinary class.
Conventional teaching methods are fast becoming a thing of the past. “Children are all so different and a traditional education leaves some of them behind,” Valela says.
Growing up, she felt this approach restricted her individuality and creativity. In search of a way to express herself, Valela found theatre and dance.
It soon became more than a hobby, leading her on a path towards stardom. Valela took centre-stage in competitions and festivals across South Africa. But she came to realise that her passion for teaching others shone brighter.
Today, Valela facilitates the After School Activities Program, better known as ASAP, with Lunchbox Theatre. “There are hundreds of ways to learn, and one of them is theatre,” Valela says.
Through interactive educational shows and workshops, Valela addresses pertinent issues while aiding the development of valuable life skills. “Kids are more eager to learn when they can enjoy the message,” she says.
Her after-school classes incorporate African music, dance, and drama, instilling self-confidence in her students as well as pride for their culture and heritage.
Valela’s initiative has had a lasting impact in her community, providing a space where young minds can learn about the world and explore their identities.
Dancing to the beat of their own drum, these kids have the potential to go anywhere.