After the melee of Mash

first_imgDear Editor,A recent emblematic Stabroek News photograph of two floats, captioned “Old habits die hard” caught my attention. The vexing visage of what was hours before the centre of gravity now seared the esthetics of the national capital city; retired on a reserve, Homestretch Avenue. Our national pastime had come and gone; and with it the fanfare, revelry, jubilation and excitement – the melee of Mash.Yet events like Mash are important in the life of a nation, in the psyche of a people, and should be supported and preserved. When I was a child living on the Shopping Plaza in South Ruimveldt Gardens, back then, the name of the place resembled its use. On the ‘Plaza’ was a Mash camp and Peter Tang was its master designer.The Mash camp was a place of tremendous wonder; the sights, sounds and smells. I remember one year Mr Tang produced a fire breathing dragon. I can’t remember if I’ve seen such an animated production before or since. The sketched designs were art in and of themselves. Talent, style and beauty par excellence on full display. When a man transitions this life, only the quality of his work remains as a measure. And sometimes even that is lost irretrievably in a nation like ours.In the years that Mr Tang reigned our parents would release us into the care of the band members on Mash Day and the big truck or ‘low bed’ was our perch to view the day’s festivities. As a result of Peter Tang and so many other such figures who passed through his camp, Mash dwelled with us before the designated day and long after.I wish more children would be exposed to our culture in this way. It was an education for me and in many ways shaped my thinking as a young man growing up. In a Mash camp you are exposed to art and history, Maths, science, geography, and economics, nay the curriculum and what was more it was an open expanse for the imagination. When I went off to high school this Mash experience gave me a special appreciation for books like King of the Masquerade by Michael Anthony, and what was to become a favorite,The Dragon Can’t Dance by Earl Lovelace.Seeing those floats reposed on Homestretch reminded me of how much work and sheer talent goes into producing them, sculptures of beauty for a moment of glory. But why should that be? Could we have a ‘Mash museum’ where all our floats and costumes, or the best thereof, go to be enjoyed by our children, tourists and others all year round so that the beauty of Mash might linger longer? And in this era of ‘Going Green’, of recycle, reuse, reduce’, couldn’t some of the materials for this year’s Mash find their way into next year’s production? I am certain that with the cost of production, something can be salvaged.Sincerely,Sherod Avery Duncan,LLB, JPDeputy Mayor,Municipality ofGeorgetownlast_img read more

Continue reading

KRU candidates in club pact

first_imgAt a press briefing on Tuesday, candidates shifted their campaign to also focus on increasing revenue for the unions’ development plans. “What the game of rugby needs is to modernize the way the game is run to include sourcing for more revenue for instance, through merchandising and TV rights,” said acting secretary general, Paul Nyamondi, who is keen on clinching the post.Jack Okoth and Willy Ombisi are also in contention for the secretary’s seat alongside Nyamondi. Given the popularity of the sport that has risen steadily in the recent past, the exposure of the game was another driving point of the campaign with contestants promising to land broadcast rights to the game.“At the moment we are too dependent on sponsorship. The Kenya Premier League is earning close to Sh20m a year on TV rights, why not rugby?” quipped Sadik Makii who is eying the post of vice-chairman against Sasha Mutai and Fred Odhiambo.Sadik believes that with modern facilities the union can successfully host an IRB event in the next for four years since the union has the personnel, administration manpower and knowledge in making such a huge tournament a reality.Incumbent Henry Embuye and Gabriel Ouko will be seeking the Treasurer position.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000NAIROBI, Kenya March 27- Contestants in Thursday’s Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) elections have entered into a pact to incorporate clubs in the running of the sport once voted into office.The posts of vice-chairman, secretary general and treasurer will be filled during the polls at the Union headquarters in Nairobi with the incumbent chair, Mwangi Muthee having his mandate facing the electorate next year.last_img read more

Continue reading

Cech Latest: Mourinho hints at possible swap deal

first_img1 Jose Mourinho has warned clubs hoping to sign Petr Cech: If I give you one of mine, you give me one of yours!The Cezch international, who is set for contract talks next week, is being widely linked with a move away from Chelsea this summer, with Arsenal and Manchester United reportedly keen on him, as well as a number of clubs in Europe.Mourinho is keen to keep Cech at Stamford Bridge, but knows he is facing an uphill battle, with the 33-year-old naturally not keen on spending another season as second choice to Thibaut Courtois.But the Portuguese has cheekily suggested he might take one of his rivals’ players if they want his goalkeeper.“Every club that is interested in Petr, I can find a player that I like in that team, too,” Mourinho said at the launch of BT Sport’s European football coverage.He does admit, however, he might be powerless to keep Cech.“My answer [on his future] is not important,” he added. “My answer is not important because the owner is the owner, he is the person with the perspective I admire a lot, respect a lot.“He respects a lot of people who do important things for him.“Since 2004 to 2014-15, ten years of success with the club, ten years of unbelievable behaviour. I will have to accept any decision the owner has.“I’m different. I have the same respect for Petr that everybody at the club has, but my answer would be, no way. If the answer is different I will accept that.” Petr Cech and Jose Mourinho last_img read more

Continue reading

Mayor vowing payoff in trade

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe joys and headaches of holiday travel: John Phillips“We continue to complement the mayor’s effort to bring new business to Los Angeles and the Valley. New business means more jobs for Valley residents.” Villaraigosa will be joined by some 50 business and civic leaders – what he called “a delegation that looks like L.A. and represents L.A.’s diverse business community” – in a trip he portrayed as an economic blitz of the Far East. Asia is already the city’s largest trading partner but there is room for growth, the mayor said. “Trade, trade, trade, trade, trade,” a visibly charged Villaraigosa said at one point, emphasizing each word by pounding his palms on a conference table. “One hundred and twenty billion dollars of (Asian) goods pass through our port, and we want to increase that.” Although he refused to specify any of the trade deals he expects to hammer out during the trip, the mayor did promise “to come back with a lot of money and investments,” as well as mining new relationships for future business. Villaraigosa said future growth of the city’s international trade with Asia and other countries – he noted the economic potential of Europe and India – depends on maximizing L.A.’s potential, as well as making it “green,” underscoring the city’s environmental concerns both locally and worldwide. He said these were the same points he emphasized during his visit last week to London and Manchester, England, at the invitation of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. As he did in England, Villaraigosa will be using the Asian trip to promote Los Angeles’ campaign for the 2016 Olympics, which the mayor said a recent survey found is a goal supported by 88 percent of the city’s residents. “I am extremely focused,” he said, “on bringing the Olympics to L.A.” Villaraigosa will be joined on his Asian trip by City Councilmen Dennis Zine, Jack Weiss and Jose Huizar, as well as seven aides from the mayor’s staff. The estimated $500,000 cost for the mayor and other officials will be paid by the city’s Port and Airports departments and L.A. Inc., its convention and visitors bureau. The mayor will be joined in each country by 15 to 17 members of the Los Angeles delegation, with some dropping out after China and others joining him along the way. tony.castro@dailynews.com (818) 713-3761160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa promised Tuesday to deliver substantial gains in tourism, investments, entertainment business and fashion trade from his upcoming 16-day, $500,000 Asian trip. “I want to get the biggest bang for our buck, and I’m focused on real deliverables,” Villaraigosa told Daily News editors and reporters in a meeting advancing his trip to China, South Korea and Japan that will begin Sunday. As he prepares for his first international trade mission, Villaraigosa was getting positive reviews from local business leaders who are also looking forward to expanding trade with the Far East. “It’s a great opportunity for Los Angeles and businesses in the San Fernando Valley,” said Brendan Huffman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, which will send former VICA Chairman David Fleming as part of the mayor’s delegation. last_img read more

Continue reading

Thousands prep for marathon

first_imgSon Nolan, 12, brought along his running buddy, Kyle Pliss, 14, a first-timer for the 5K. When Nolan’s mom mentioned the carbohydrate-loaded spaghetti she was making for supper, his eyes lit up. “You’re just doing this for the spaghetti,” Nolan teased. Volunteers checking in the runners were busy throughout the day in the ballroom of the Hyatt Valencia as runners picked up information and their GPS systems and browsed various vendor booths. “We’ve got 400 people running the full marathon and will have 2,100 running the half,” said Terry Martin, a race volunteer and member of the Santa Clarita Runners club. “I’ve run the marathon three times; it’s great to run through your own community and see the people you know standing in the street cheering.” He admits one of his best running memories was in the early years when he was pounding the pavement on The Old Road near Rye Canyon Road at about mile 22. “I saw this little person standing on the corner in the distance, then as I got closer I saw it was my daughter, Holly. She was holding up a sign that said `Go Dad.’ That really gave me a lift and picked me up for the rest of the race.” Swimming pool contractor Charlie Alewine traveled from Diamond Bar to participate in the race, his third in Santa Clarita. “I like 50-mile races. I’m doing a 100-mile race in Oklahoma next week,” he said. “I usually do about 54 marathons and 5K runs a year; this is my 28th this year.” The Santa Clarita race route starts at the Valencia Town Center, travels down Valencia Boulevard, turns north on Tourney Road and follows the West River Trail into the Valencia Industrial Center. It follows the river trail to Copperhill Drive and returns to Valencia down McBean Parkway, where half-marathoners will finish the race on Theater Drive into the mall. Full marathoners will head toward Canyon Country along the trail, turning back just short of the Golden Valley Road overpass, coming back into Newhall along the South Fork Trail and turning back toward the finish at Orchard Village Road. For race results, visit www.scmarathon.org. carol.rock@dailynews.com (661) 257-5252160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’Alois Gaigl, 41, a cyclist from Ventura who will run the half-marathon in Santa Clarita, runs one or two marathons every year. “I’ve run the L.A. Marathon and in January I’m running Carlsbad (marathon),” he said. “It’s a good winter exercise.” Nina del Valle, 46, was in line to pick up chips for her two young boys as well as her husband, Robert, 51. “I’ve run the half-marathon several times,” she said, recalling that the first year the course meandered from Canyon Country all the way to Magic Mountain. “It’s much smoother; the city has learned from its years of experience.” VALENCIA – Pasta was on the plates of a few thousand Santa Clarita athletes Saturday night as runners and families prepared for the 12th annual Santa Clarita Marathon. The run kicks off today at 7 a.m. at the corner of McBean Parkway and Town Center Drive, with runners traveling a course marked for 5K, 13.1 miles and the full 26-mile distance. “I’m not going for time, I’m going for enjoyment,” said Debbie Killian, 43, as she waited in line to pick up a GPS system that would electronically record her time. “Last weekend I ran the 5K for the Food Pantry and Sunday I’m running a half-marathon for the first time.” Asked why she was doing it, she replied, “I’m not getting any younger.” last_img
Continue reading

Milner joins exclusive 500 club, but where does he rank in list of legends?

first_img Sol Campbell was dominant in his prime Jamie Carragher was a no-nonsense defender Gary Speed was a consummate professional Milner in the Premier League Leeds United (2001-2004)Newcastle United (2004-2009)Aston Villa (2005-2006 – loan)Aston Villa (2008-2010)Man City (2010-2015)Liverpool (2015-present) Rio Ferdinand played with style and grace Steven Gerrard is one of the best midfielders in Premier League history 13 13 6. James Milner (Leeds United, Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Manchester City, Liverpool) – 500 gamesThe latest inductee into the ‘500 club,’ Milner first came onto the scene as a 16-year-old at Leeds and was the then youngest goal scorer when he netted in a 2-1 win against Sunderland. In the 50 games in which he has hit the target, Milner is yet to be on the losing side – a Premier League record. Just one of four players in top-flight history to play 100 matches for three different clubs, only now is Milner getting the appreciation he has always deserved. 13 David James rebuilt his career at Portsmouth 13 13 Emile Heskey was not prolific but was vital to his teams 2. Frank Lampard (West Ham, Chelsea, Man City) – 609 gamesA prolific goalscorer of the highest order, Lampard was the ultimate central midfielder and had his best years in a Chelsea shirt. Superb passing, supreme fitness levels and and knowing exactly where the net was, meant it was not long before he was rightly considered world class. Voted Premier League player of the decade between 2001-10, the 40-year-old is now in charge of Derby County and received a hero’s reception when he returned to Stamford Bridge in October when he led his side out in the League Cup. 13 13 1. Ryan Giggs (Manchester United) – 632 gamesGiggs enjoyed a trophy-laden career with Man United and his 13 winners’ medals are the most of any player in the Premier League era.  A once pacy winger, the Welshman began his career giving full-backs plenty to think about, before converting into a deep-lying midfielder in his later years thanks to his football brain – his 162 Premier League assists in the league, a record, is testament to that. It is unlikely we will see the longevity, let alone the silverware of Giggs’ matched anytime soon, if ever. 7. Gareth Barry (Aston Villa, Manchester City, Everton, West Bromwich Albion) – 653 gamesHis appearances put him ahead of Ryan Giggs for Premier League games played and Barry played 20 consecutive seasons in the top flight before suffering relegation with West Brom in 2018. One of the most underrated players; he possessed a superb range of passing and delivery from set-pieces and in his later years, developed into a composed, calm midfielder capable of dictating the tempo and pace of a match. 13 Frank Lampard was a goal-scoring machine 13 13 Ryan Giggs won 13 Premier League titles 13 13 5. Sol Campbell (Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Portsmouth, Newcastle) – 503 gamesLife in management may not been quite as straightforward as defending for Campbell, who made it appear so easy in his prime as player for Tottenham and Arsenal. A powerful and formidable centre-back, Campbell was a nightmare for strikers and slotted effortlessly into the role of Tony Adams’ successor at Highbury. He was part of the Gunners’ famous invincible season of 2003/04. 13 11. David James (Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham, Manchester City, Portsmouth) – 572 gamesIt was during his spell with Liverpool where he cruelly earn the nicknamed ‘Calamity James’ and it stuck with him for the remainder of his career. While high profile errors frequented his time in the Premier League, James rebuilt his career and reputation, particularly with Portsmouth, as a solid goalkeeper capable of world class saves on his day. With 169, only Petr Cech has kept more clean sheets than him in the Premier League. But where does he rank compared to the other players who have joined the 500 club?13. Mark Schwarzer (Middlesbrough, Fulham, Chelsea, Leicester City) – 514 gamesThe Australian enjoyed an 11-year spell with Middlesbrough, helping them to win the League Cup in 2004. Famously, he secured them a place in the UEFA Cup, when he saved a Robbie Fowler penalty against Manchester City on the final day of the 2004/05 season. He is the first and, to date, only non-British player to have appeared more than 500 times in the Premier League. James Milner burst onto the scene with Leeds 3. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) – 504 gamesHis lack of a Premier League winners’ medal has been bizarrely used to taunt one of the finest players to have graced the game. Gerrard was a complete midfielder and could dominate a match like no other in his heyday and was responsible for much of Liverpool’s success domestically and in Europe. His powerful runs and long-range strikes allowed him to make an impact at the highest level for nearly 20 years. Gareth Barry has made the most appearances in Premier League history Mark Schwarzer in action for Middlesbrough Liverpool’s James Milner is now part of a very exclusive Premier League club.The midfielder is now the 13th player to reach 500 appearances in England’s top flight, achieving the feat during the Reds’ 4-0 thrashing of Bournemouth.Milner, who will turn 33 in January, is the second youngest player to reach the mark after Gareth Barry. Phil Neville enjoyed a successful career in the Premier League 10. Emile Heskey (Leicester City, Liverpool, Birmingham City, Wigan Athletic, Aston Villa) – 516 gamesNever prolific for any of the clubs he played for (scoring roughly one in five games), Heskey earned an unfavourable reputation during his career for his inability to find the net. He was, though, deemed vital thanks in part to his physical attributes and selfless contributions to the team, earning praise from the likes of Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen for allowing them to shine. 12. Gary Speed (Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers) – 535 gamesDescribed as the consummate professional, Speed was known for his dedication and fitness, rarely picking up injuries or suspensions that allowed him to play in the Premier League for three different clubs. The majority of his appearances came while at Newcastle where he became a fan’s favourite even after departing for Bolton in 2004. 4. Rio Ferdinand (West Ham, Leeds, Manchester United, QPR) – 504 gamesWith one more appearance than Campbell, Ferdinand complemented his England team-mate with his own brand of slick defending to form one of the nation’s best ever partnerships. A confident, composed player, Ferdinand was not the archetypal British centre-back. His ability to read the play and make crucial interventions, as well as his distribution and technique helped him win six Premier League titles with Man United and a place in the PFA Team of the Year on the same number of occasions. getty 8. Jamie Carragher (Liverpool) – 508 gamesCarragher has taken his ultra-competitive nature as a footballer into the Sky studio where he battles Gary Neville most Monday nights, but he was a solid defender for 17 years at Liverpool. Chelsea legend Didier Drogba paid him the ultimate compliment when he named the Bootle-born leader as his toughest ever opponent. 9. Phil Neville (Manchester United, Everton) – 505 gamesWith his attitude, willingness to play anywhere and high work-rate, Neville made the most of his ability to forge a highly respectable career with both Manchester United and then Everton. Able to operate as a full-back or midfielder, he won six Premier League titles at Man United between 1994 and 2005.last_img read more

Continue reading

Townsend ‘surprised’ by Japan’s late penalty award

first_img“It’s not something that’s been referred and there’s an agreement there is more latitude for the scrum-half putting the ball into the scrum because you are the team who has won the scrum. “To see it in the World Cup really surprised me. To see it come in added-on time was an even bigger surprise. “It was a call I’ve not seen for a long time in the game.” Scotland’s fate remains in the balance but they could yet be given a helping hand from Mother Nature. World Rugby says it is monitoring a typhoon that could hit Japan on Saturday and potentially stop Ireland’s quarter-final bid in its tracks. Gregor Townsend admits he was left “really surprised” by the late scrum penalty handed to Japan against Samoa which means the World Cup hosts could still progress from Pool A even if they lose Sunday’s crucial showdown with Scotland. Japan secured a bonus point in Saturday’s 38-19 win when they scored a stoppage-time try after Samoa were pulled up for a rarely-questioned crooked put-in by South African referee Jaco Peyper – a decision which left Townsend perplexed. Japan’s extras mean Scotland could take maximum points from their final two Pool A clashes against Russia – who they face on Wednesday – and the Brave Blossoms and still crash out if the hosts were to secure two losing bonus points of their own. Scotland coach Townsend said: “Look, I think it is an incredible call. Typhoon Hagibis has formed in the Western Pacific Ocean off the south coast of Japan, with forecasts suggesting it could hit the island of Kyushu this weekend. Ireland face Samoa in the Kyushu city of Fukuoka on Saturday, where Joe Schmidt’s men need a bonus-point victory to seal their place in the last eight. Any games cancelled at the World Cup due to weather problems are registered as scoreless draws – meaning Scotland and Japan could yet find themselves progressing at Ireland’s expense. But Townsend insists his side will have to get to the knock-out stages under their own steam regardless of the weather situation. He said: “My first thought was that it was called Typhoon Haggis, obviously it’s not. “We came off the training field today and we were made aware of it. It’s something that’s always a possibility throughout this month in this part of the world. “A couple have already skipped past Japan, but this could come into play over the weekend. “I don’t think it will be a factor for our game on Wednesday, but perhaps we will get the tail end of it in Tokyo on Sunday. “The Ireland game cannot be postponed, it has to be played that day. If it cannot be played that day then it’s two points for each team. “Whether it can be played in another venue, I’m not too sure. “Listen, we have to win our next two games to qualify. That would not change if the Ireland and Samoa game ended up in a draw.” Townsend has made 14 changes to the side which thrashed Samoa last week after deciding to hold the majority of his top stars in reserve for the Japan clash. Only wing Darcy Graham is retained but the coach has backed his second string to get the result they need against Russia. He said: “We have had a long rest into this game, but obviously don’t have too long a rest going into our final game. “We have a job to do, that much is clear. Russia have gained in confidence, they look a fit team. “They have a very good scrum and an excellent kicking game. “They will put everything into this. “It’s important we build on the momentum we built against Samoa.”Watch all the action from Rugby World Cup 2019 on the STV Player including live games, catch-up, highlights, full fixtures and behind the scenes extras.last_img read more

Continue reading

Kelly’s proud to be miles ahead with Circle K rebrand

first_imgKelly’s Forecourt at Mountain Top Letterkenny has had a shiny new rebrand to join the global Circle K network.As well as a new-look canopy, the former Topaz petrol station offers customers exciting benefits to customers. The people, the service and the award-winning Centra store remain the same. All that has changed is the Circle K forecourt.Kelly’s of Mountain Top rebranded to Circle KKelly’s pumps are continuing to supply the same fuel that takes you miles further. Miles by Circle K is the new and improved quality fuel that reduces the cost of fuel by up to 3%.Miles saves you up to 4c per litre. The fuel contains unique additives to help clean the engine, so your car will thank you too!Miles fuels benefits:Improve fuel consumption – takes you up to 3% furtherClean and protect your engineEnhance engine efficiency and improve reliabilityReduce harmful exhaust emissions Many of Kelly’s loyal customers will be wondering about their Topaz fuel cards. The good news is that the existing Topaz fuel card is accepted at all Circle K locations in Ireland. It will also be accepted at Topaz locations during the rebrand. Gradually, new Circle K branded fuel cards are due to be introduced.The team at Kelly’s are looking forward to welcoming customers to their new-look forecourt this season.This move is the latest in exciting developments at Kelly’s. The Centra store recently held a Customer Appreciation Day to celebrate their innovative store and customer service, while the popular Kelly’s Diner continues to impress with their tasty food offers and stylish designed venue.Call up to Kelly’s at Mountain Top to refuel, restock and relax!Sponsored PostKelly’s proud to be miles ahead with Circle K rebrand was last modified: September 12th, 2018 by Staff WriterShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:circle kkelly’s mountain topletterkennypetrolservice stationlast_img read more

Continue reading

Values, heritage can be learnt here

first_imgThe first coat of paint goes on the walls of the children’s room. Pupils from Sunrise pre-school in nearby Hillbrow start off their day singing happy birthday to Nelson Mandela, before getting into their task of making message cards for him. Old furniture is sandpapered and vanished to make it look like new again. The children making art for Madiba.(Images: Valencia Talane)MEDIA CONTACTS• Petal Thring CEO: Constitution Hill+27 11 381 3139RELATED ARTICLES• Gallery: Constitutional Court • ConCourt art tells South Africa’s story• More to SA than Nelson Mandela• Getting needy kids hooked on books Valencia TalaneAll children born in South Africa after 1994 have in common the privilege of only knowing a democratic government system underpinned by a Constitution that has been hailed as the world’s most progressive.Many of them know of the Bill of Rights, a major part of the Constitution, and how it protects the country’s citizens. The responsibility that goes with instilling these rights remains a tricky aspect, and this is what Constitution Hill wants to change.The Constitution Hill precinct is one of South Africa’s national heritage sites and is managed by Blue IQ Investment Holdings and the Johannesburg Development Agency. It is home to the country’s highest court on constitutional matters, the Constitutional Court.One the site are the museums that were once prison operations, namely the Women’s Gaol museum, the Number Four museum and the Old Fort museum.Hoping to capitalise on its location in the inner city of Johannesburg, Constitution Hill staff are ready to make a difference to disadvantaged young people. They are availing themselves to children in the area for what CEO Petal Thring describes as a programme focused on imparting the values of the Constitution.“Children today generally know what their rights are in terms of the Constitution, but they don’t necessarily know how the country achieved those rights and what sacrifices were made in order to gain them,” says Thring.Pre-school children are the main target, because they are at an age where they are only learning to read and write.Mandela Day a great opportunity On Wednesday 18 July, Constitution Hill staff mobilised volunteers from several of their associates, suppliers and tenants to help refurbish the children’s room in the Old Fort Prison section of the facility.The room was first converted in 2004, and had previously served as one of the prison’s mess halls.A group of some 40 people spent the morning of Mandela Day clearing the room of old toys, books and furniture and repainting the walls. They also organised old and newly-donated toys for children who will be using the facility in the future.Instead of acquiring sponsorship to fund the renovations, Thring’s team kept in line with their culture of preserving as much of the precinct’s history and heritage as possible, electing rather to use the same furniture and other supplies.“I didn’t expect such a good turnout,” she said, excited. “It is such a lovely day and the weather is on our side.”By mid-morning the site was a hive of activity, the spirit was high and as people arrived with more books and toys to donate, extra storage space had to be organised on the spot. While one group painted the inside walls, others worked with sandpaper on the wooden desks that make up most of the furniture, before varnishing them.It was only after the arrival of about 35 pre-schoolers from the Sunrise pre-school in nearby Hillbrow, however, that the old courtyard of the prison got busier and noisier with singing and laughter. As soon as the youngsters had been briefed on their big task of the day – writing birthday messages for Mandela – excitement set in and they dived into the challenge, rolled-up sleeves and all.“Can you imagine what it would mean for this country if their generation respected the meaning of the Constitution?” Thring expresses, watching the children in action.Vision behind children’s roomThe primary mandate of Constitution Hill has always been inner city renewal, says Thring. When the children’s room was first established, its main purpose was to provide space for pupils across different ages and grades where they could study, read and do school projects.But its meaning goes further than that, she maintains.“Many of the families that live in this area are poor, and they do not have exposure to many vital sources of information. The children will benefit from all sorts of activities like workshops for which we hope to get sufficient facilitators.”For a lot of people in the inner city, who stay mainly in apartment buildings, space and privacy are a challenge. With the help of such a facility pupils could get together and help develop each other without worrying about either obstacle.Because of challenges such as budget cuts – which were introduced to several government projects in the past few years– the room had to be closed down in favour of continuing with the other operations such as tours and exhibitions. Constitutional Hill also hires out the venue for special events as part of its business.“When we think about how we create a new culture within our society we need to think about our children,” says Thring.While preparing for a recent appearance as guest speaker at a Jewish congregation, where she was to speak about the Constitution, it occurred to Thring that society nourishes and protects religion in a broad sense – it becomes a way of life, a place to belong. She started to think of how she could use her position to help communities to start incorporating the Constitution into their every culture as they do the different belief systems.“Three things are critical: the Constitution itself; making sure that children grow up understanding the Constitution; and understanding their responsibilities towards it.”“For far too long we’ve worried about rights, but we now need to think of our responsibilities in terms of protecting those rights.”Even a lack of funding – only about a third of their funding comes from government – has not deterred Thring and her staff. They decided to use Mandela Day as a spring board to mobilise a publicity campaign as well.For the long term, she says, her team is developing partnerships with several stakeholders for a structured programme, but for now will start with simple activities like reading and helping children with their homework.“Even in reading, we have to identify the right books,” she says. “We’re looking for partners that will help us teach and develop different language skills in young children, because we need to get them to read in different languages.”Starting with basic values like honesty and friendliness, she says, will go a long way in developing this culture of oneness that South Africans seek.Mandela’s history with Old FortWhile awaiting the famous Rivonia treason trial after his arrest in 1962, Mandela spent time in the Old Fort prison. He was, during this time, the only black prisoner among all-white inmates, and more than one explanation has been offered for this over the years.While one theory claims that it was believed by authorities that Mandela could find the means to escape from any other facility, another says the strategy was to keep him as far from the rest of his fellow African National Congress leaders as possible as he was an influential man and could change the government’s course of action in terms of the judicial system.Today the Old Fort grounds are home to a permanent exhibition of the Mandela cell. The exhibition, called Nelson Mandela: Prisoner in a Garden, has been on the site since 2005 and includes his communication with the outside world.last_img read more

Continue reading