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Free State & Gauteng learners scoop prizes at Chinese Consulate’s June 16 drama challenge

Free State & Gauteng learners scoop prizes at Chinese Consulate’s June 16 drama challenge

Chinese Consul General in Joburg, Pan Qingjiang, has handed prizes to successful learners from Gauteng and Free State provinces who took part and excelled in the annual Driving Education Culture short video competition.

Last month, learners in schools across Gauteng and Free State – provinces served by the Chinese Consulate General based in Johannesburg – were invited to research on the momentous events of June 16, 1976, and as individuals or small groups, enact the occurrence in short videos.

Addressing the selected winners in the competition, Consul General Pan said the competition seeks to foster a deeper understanding of the important relationship between China and South Africa, while entrenching in young people the spirit of resilience and progress which defines both nations through acknowledging the struggles of the past.

“One month ago, the Consulate General launched the June 16 legacy drama challenge under the project of Driving Education Culture with the theme: Similar histories, shared future – long live China-South Africa friendship,” he said.

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The diplomat said participation in the competition was vast and it was “so encouraging and moving” to note that many learners, from different schools took part in the challenge as individuals or in groups.

“All the entries are so well presented with colourful form, great enthusiasm and creativity, and deep thinking. I also wish to mention with appreciation that the fruitful competition and today’s event would not be possible without the support and contribution from many others, including the Driving Education Culture ambassador, Ms Antoinette Sithole,” he said.

Sithole is the older sister of the late Hector Pieterson who was captured in the world-famous photograph from the June 16 Soweto Uprising in 1976 – a moment which altered South Africa’s history.

Consul General Pan said the events of June 16, 1976, in South Africa resonate with China’s own history of resistance.

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“Dear friends, history is the best textbook. It tells us where we came from, how we have come to the present, and how we should reach the future. The June 16 event in South Africa resonates with China’s own history of resistance against foreign aggression, which has contributed the shaping of China’s national identity and the commitment to education as a means of empowerment and liberation,” said Pan.

“Their legacy of pursuit of justice and progress against any difficulties and obstacles remains significant and inspiring for us and for the world where we live today.

“The world today is far from being tranquil. Humanity is faced with so many common challenges in its endeavour for both peace and development. We are living in a global village and we are one community with a shared future. We need to join hand in hand to move forward. The world needs co-operation instead of confrontation,” he said.

The diplomat said China and South Africa’s friendship has travelled a long span of time and has defied obstacles of mountains and oceanic proportions.

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“As early as in the mid-20th century, the newly founded People’s Republic of China lent firm support to the South African people in fighting apartheid. Facing the sudden onslaught of COVID-19, China was among the first to provide anti-pandemic supplies to South Africa, reaffirming our special brotherhood,” said Pan.

“The relationship between China and South Africa is entering a “golden era” under the guidance of presidents of two countries featuring a rapid expansion of cooperation in all fields including education and cultural exchanges.”

Pan said as China opens its arms to the world, it also opens its arms to the youth of South Africa.

“You are welcome to visit and study in China. The Consulate General will continue to spare no efforts to engage with you all for a closer bond of our two countries and peoples,” he said.

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Grassland Primary School and Heatherdale Comprehensive Secondary School from the Free State province won first and second prize respectively in the competition. The third price was scooped by Hope Fountain Combined School based in Hillbrow, Johannesburg.

On behalf of newly-appointed Free State Education MEC, spokesperson Howard Ndaba said both schools made the province proud by submitting “spectacular pieces”.

“We would like to thank the Chinese Government for their continued investment in the Free State and congratulations to these learners who have demonstrated their understanding of our countries’ history and relations to China through drama and dance,” Ndaba said.

Perched on the first spot, the proud winning team from Grassland Primary School in Bloemfontein, under the tutelage of Grade 7 educator Lefa Litsoane included learners Bohang Mathibelle; Rethabile Chabedi; Thato Bergma; Brychia Maarsdorp; Onika Mdunyelwa; Oratile Komane; Bonolo Khumalo; Xaba Puleng; Nneko Nobe; and Bokamoso Masiea.

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“We worked really hard on our craft and it was nice to reap the rewards of our labour because we try to teach our learners that hard work pays off,” Litsoane said.

“The children took home a lot. They also got a history lesson from a real historian (Antoinette Sithole) who physically took part in the struggle during the 1976 Soweto Uprising. The learners have learnt a lot about China, the food, the writing and its history.

“It is an experience they will never forget and I would like to thank the Johannesburg Chinese Consulate and the Free State Department of Education for a sterling job,” he said.

In second place, learners from Heatherdale Comprehensive Secondary School were under the guidance of teachers Clayton Andries, Zane Muller and choreographer Boipelo Monnamorwe.

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The learners were Marcelino Plaatjies; Leviano Steenkamp; Tiffany de Vries; Precious Oerson; Moneyh Patmore; Tercias Jaarse; Meagan Baatjies; Megan Pretorius; Quinheggan Gathree; and Leverne van Zyl.

After scooping the second prize, Andries said the experience was “incredibly humbling and exhilarating”.

“Being chosen among the top five finalists and ultimately securing second place was beyond our wildest dreams. It reaffirms that our efforts to preserve and promote the performing arts in our community are making a meaningful impact. This recognition not only validates our mission but also underscores the potential for a sustainable career path in the arts locally and globally,” he said.

“For the learners involved, this achievement holds immense significance. It showcases their talent and dedication on a national and international scale, offering them well-deserved recognition for their artistic contributions. It inspires them to continue pursuing their passions and reinforces the importance of creativity and expression in our society.”

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In third place, learners from Hope Fountain Combined School Hillbrow, Joburg were under the tutelage of teacher Eunice Masango. The learners winning team had Thando Sibanda; Snikiwe Ndlovu; Charity Bikumo; Samukeliso Maseko; Bongani Ncube; Active Dumezweni; Exevia Zvidzai and Natasha Sibanda.

She said being selected among the top performers was a major achievement, but scooping the third price was the cherry on top.

“Oh my word! It was mind blowing when we were called onto the stage. We actually didn’t believe that we will be in the top three,” she said.

“We were so confused when we were announced because we were not expecting a win, since we were not given enough time of practice. But I am glad my learners showed that they are fighters, despite the environment they are coming from. I am really proud of them.”

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Other schools which were also recognised for their submissions include the Christian Progressive College in Pretoria central, Royal Schools Princess Park in Arcadia, Tshwane, Modiri Technical High School in Mamelodi, Curtis Nkondo School of Specialisation in Soweto, and Dr Blok Secondary School in Bloemfontein.


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