Celebrating Diversity Through Faith-Driven Teaching

Celebrating Diversity Through Faith-Driven Teaching

The Nokuphila School’s annual Heritage Day concert is a celebration for all


Heritage Day is a day of national unity and a celebration of our rich cultural landscape. Celebrated on 24 September each year, it was originally observed only in the province of KwaZulu-Natal as ‘Shaka Day’, a commemoration of King Shaka’s presumed date of passing.

Under the new South African government, it was marked as an official public holiday, to be further known as ‘Heritage Day’. Nationally, this is taken as a day in which we celebrate our differences and spend time honouring the traditions our different cultural groups hold.

Faith as a unifying force

At our school in Thembisa, we celebrate cultural diversity on a daily basis. The chatter that rings through our hallways is made up of several of our twelve official languages, and many of our students observe different cultural rituals and traditions at home.

However, a common thread that runs through our school and fills the hearts of the learners and teachers alike is our faith. As a not for profit educational institution, our learning outreach is faith-based, and we aim to deliver quality Christian-based teaching. Our annual Heritage Day Concert is a cause for great excitement and has become known as one of our stand-out events.

Guidance and support pave the path to the concert

As much as the community enjoys this annual event, the teachers driving the Heritage Day concert love it even more. Teachers Asakhe Gidimisane, Abigail Musvosve and Sheila Madzikanda are the driving force behind the concert and simply loved seeing the learners come to life with the joy of performing.

Having celebrated Heritage Day with a concert for over a decade now, concert organiser Teacher Asakhe Gidimisane says that they enjoy switching up the components of the concert every year to make space for as many learners to participate as possible. The learners are selected based on their willingness to participate, and many of them will practise for months in advance.

Lessons in understanding and respect

This year, our school included an interactive storytelling session where the educators enthralled the audience with traditional folktales, allowing the learners to partake and experience traditions passed down through generations of their ancestors.

We also included more contemporary performances like dance and a fashion show that allowed learners to showcase traditional dress from their cultures. 

Our teachers say that the Zulu dance is one of the most popular in the school, and is widely done with isiZulu being the first additional language taught here. Zulu dance forms like Ukugida and Amapiano are a great way for the learners to express themselves and their culture through movement, whilst a lot of learners enjoy adding in elements of western culture through their music choice or trendy dance moves.

The fact that modern music and dance moves are embraced by the teachers is indicative of the open minded policy the school holds towards cultural differences, with Teacher Abigail Musvosve saying that Amapiano is enjoyed by many of their learners because of its use of Western instruments in its songs and movements.

Teacher Sheila Madzikanda was instrumental in pulling together this concert, and she is passionate about what an effective tool for cultural promotion it is. Our school’s Heritage Day concert proves its effectiveness in promoting and protecting cultural heritage – through this activity, our students gain a greater grasp of their roots but also a wider perspective on the rich diversity of cultures that make up South Africa.

Expressing their identity with pride

The learners at our school are comfortable talking about their different cultures and traditions, as this forms part of their curriculum. Aside from the Heritage Day concert, our learners also celebrate Africa Day at school to increase their understanding of how other cultural groups live.

As part of the learners regular timetable there is a Culture period once a week, presented in either English or isiZulu, where teachers can stage dance, drama or poetry that highlights certain cultural groups. Our learners are also encouraged to role-play by dressing up as a prominent figure from their own culture and educating the class on what this person has done to make them significant.

Different languages and traditions aside, faith is the cornerstone of all that is done at our school and as such, the school imparts respect and tolerance for all others and not only that which we can easily recognise.

Click here to see a video from this years’ Heritage Day celebrations at our school.

Learners and teachers proudly donning their traditional outfits.