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Remembering the Duke of Edinburgh's award in South Africa

Palesa Matuludi, head of development, The President's Award   -  
Copyright © africanews


Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral will take place on Saturday (17 April) at Windsor Castle. Philip, Queen Elizabeth II's husband of 73 years, died last Friday, aged 99.

Philip is remembered for his work with some 780 charities and organisations, particularly his Duke of Edinburgh Award, which seeks to build confidence and resilience in young people.

In South Africa, the award was re-launched as The President's Award in 1994. And it's still benefiting young people to this day.

For the many young people in Orange Farm, a township 45 kilometres from Johannesburg, there's not much to do after school.

But for members of the Jabulile Arts and Culture Society, the all-female marimba class continues to run.

Normally, these music lessons would take place at the nearby Jabulile Secondary School, but because of COVID-19 restrictions, they're taking place outside a local home.

The society, which has been operating for the past 11 years, is part of The President's Award, an initiative empowering young people between the ages of 14 and 24.

The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Foundation oversees the award programme in over 130 countries and territories globally, with 18 countries in Africa.

The award was re-launched as The President's Award for Youth Empowerment in 1994 with former President Nelson Mandela as its Founding Patron-In-Chief.

Over the past decade, more than 60,000 young people in South Africa have developed themselves through the programme.

"It's an amazing, life-changing, non-formal education programme that empowers young people with various universal skills, such as leadership, teamwork, confidence, being able to adapt to new environments," says Palesa Matuludi, head of development for the organisation.

"All those soft skills that are required that are not necessarily attained in a classroom."

After the marimba, the young girls change into their traditional Zulu dance outfits.

They sing, chant, and dance, much to the delight of curious young onlookers.

Sinehlanhla Mthethwa has been dancing here for the past six years and has dreams of starting her own group in the future.

"I want to take my dance far from here, I want to open my own group and give people the knowledge that I have from dancing," she says.

"It has helped me gain more skills and it saved me from being involved in things such as substance abuse, drug abuse, and alcohol abuse."

Thiert-four-year-old Karen Melaphi is a choreographer, who also teaches the marimba.

He's an alumni and began his involvement with the programme 16 years ago.

"I have a passion for transferring skills to young people to develop young kids so that they cannot do wrong things around the street because nowadays, most people are smoking drugs in terms of youth, they are getting pregnant, so I teach them arts and culture, discipline and respect through arts and culture," he says.

Nkateko Mabaso from Alexandra township is another alumni.

She's been involved with the programme for ten years. She says it has changed her life.

"It assisted me with confidence, it has assisted me with gaining strength, physical strength, because I had to do the physical journey, just like everybody else, and it didn't limit me," she says.

"I always thought positively, and that's why I'm still involved because I can see that it wasn't just about getting the certificate and badge, but it was about the life skills and being equipped to be the person that I am today."

"As an organisation, we are quite saddened by the loss of his Royal Highness, but we also, celebrate the life and the hope that he gives to millions of young people across the globe and in South Africa through the support of the International Award Foundation that oversees the work of the award in over 130 countries around the world," says Matuludi.

As the sun sets, there's a small crowd gathering outside the home where the marimba and dance classes have just finished.

Young men, dressed in orange and white outfits, are ready to showcase their latest Pantsula dance moves.

Traffic is brought to a standstill for an impromptu concert.

They hope it might inspire other young people to join in the fun.