Last Saturday 10th May I was honoured to be invited to be a judge at the Conscious Connectionz Be Heard! concert to celebrate the achievements of the learners from four schools in Cape Town; Andile Junior Secondary, Heideveld High School, Kensington High School and Lentegeur High School.
Over the past three months, learners from these schools have attended the Conscious Connectionz workshops that raise awareness of HIV/AIDS to fight its spread by promoting identity, self-empowerment and independent decision-making in response to meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MGD) in 2015.
In order to internalize the Conscious Connectionz workshops in their own lives, the learners were challenged to narrate what they have learned in the form of a poem, spoken word, lyricism or song. As part of the Conscious Connectionz project, these expressions were then recorded using a mobile recording studio. The learners that best narrated their peer’s voices from each school competed live against each other at Be Heard! for a grand prize of R5,000 (and R5,000 to their school) – and that’s where me (and the two other judges came in).
I got to Joseph Stone Auditorium in Athlone at 3pm and the place was already packed. The kids were going wild to all kinds of crunk and snap courtesy of DJ Azhul. A number of dance battles popped off in the auditorium while we waited for the show to begin.
I met up with the other two judges, Teba (The Original Social Worker) and the host of MK89’s Hip Hop, Contro’Versy, and we took our seats as the show began. We were treated to a really professional and entertaining show as the kids came out and performed their pieces. First up were the kids who didn’t qualify for the final. Some of them were obviously nervous stepping out in front of a packed auditorium, but they still managed to do their thing. The partisan support from the crowd was wild, although I did feel a bit sorry for the kids from Heideveld as they seemed to have brought the least people with them.
Before the main event, crews from the various schools held an impromptu dance battle. The standards were pretty high, but the attitude and energy was intense!
Then it was time for the main event – the competition to see who was going to walk away with R5,000 for themselves and an additional R5,000 for their school. There were four finalists, one from each school. First up was a learner from Kensington (I think) who rapped and sang. Next was a learner from Lentegeur who recited a poem. She was followed by a learner from Andile who also recited a poem, but this time in Xhosa. Finally a learner from Heideveld performed a rap.
It was tough to have to choose a winner when everyone had put so much work in, but that’s how it had to go down. Although everyone did really well, we felt that there was a clear winner. The person we chose impressed us because she wrote a memorable song with a catchy hook – perfect ‘edutainment’ to get the message across.
The winner was Amanda Bonani from Heideveld. It was really moving to see how much it meant to her. Her victory was even more impressive as she had performed earlier and forgotten her lyrics. When she tried again, she got feedback from the mic and left the stage having not managed to do her thing. It took a lot of courage to come back and perform again, especially as Heideveld had the least support in the audience (in terms of numbers).
Big ups to DJ Eazy and the whole Faculty of Hip Hop for giving me the chance to participate in this event, and maximum respect to Conscious Connectionz for their important work.
Check out some photos…
Impromptu dance battles (click for larger image).
DJ Eazy hosting the show (click for larger image).
More dance battles (click for larger image).
The big finale (click for larger image).
Teba addresses the crowd shortly before announcing the winner (click for larger image).
The kids posing for the photographers (click for larger image).
Check out the full set of photos here.
Check out the Conscious Connectionz website here.
Check out the Faculty of Hip Hop website here.
That’s how we rrrrrrrrroll!!