Today we drove about 200 kilometers from our swank digs near Joberg to do a workshop at Lebone II High School in Rustenburg. The school’s artfully designed campus includes a central, amphitheater styled outdoor space, library, music room, a beautiful cafeteria with excellent food, and all the facilities we would expect in a “western” school, such as soap, and hot and cold running water in clean bathrooms (not to be taken for granted in many of Africa’s rural schools). The student body is integrated, both racially and socio-economically, and there are two dorms to house the kids that don’t commute.
The school is the vision of Kgosi (chief, or king) Laruo and was built on the side of a mountain belonging to his Bafokeng tribe. They were able to reclaim their land after apartied ended and, amazingly, fought for and won rights to the platinum mines within their boundaries. Unlike most of the world’s leaders, the chief lives in a fairly humble home and has applied the wealth from platinum to developing programs for his people, with special focus on education. The school stands as a model for education in South Africa, as does his leadership.
The students here, ranging from beginners to those with a few years experience, were especially enthusiastic about jazz. We did our thang, then listened to them play one of their songs, and finally came together for a New Apartment Lounge style jam on the blues. There must’ve been 16 kids playing including a couple violinists!