Following the beat and her passion
Sinentlantla Gqoloma is crazy about drumming. “It’s just my best thing! Since we got the new drums this year, the drumming culture at Jeppe Girls has taken off. With Ms Mabona’s help, we have grown the group, brought new members on board, and even performed in the Hall.”
As a participant in the Kliptown Youth Programme’s after school programme in Soweto during her primary school years, she longed for Fridays when Performing Arts were on the menu. That is where she learned to drum – and she has developed those skills here at Jeppe Girls since her Grade 9 year. She was recently elected as captain of the school drumming group, Mamela – by her fellow team members, an accolade richly deserved in the opinion of Ms Gugu Mabona, the teacher in charge of drumming. “Sinentlantla is a committed and patient member of the drumming squad. She has a wonderful way of interacting with the new members, taking them aside in a quiet and respectful manner, to teach them and enhance their skills. I always knew that she should be the captain and was delighted when the fellow team members chose her.”
“I knew that I wanted to be captain, but I didn’t expect it. I enjoy the responsibility, but I am not too strict. I am an open person and I prefer to say something if you do something wrong. In a friendly way – but that is how we improve. And how we build consensus to play our drums in the best way possible.”
“Jeppe Girls has taught me so much – to know my limits and to be proud of who I am. We learn from each other’s mistakes, as well as our own. If you fall, I shouldn’t laugh. Rather I should pick you up. The Ruth First Mentorship Saturdays offer an opportunity for us to be together in a relaxing way, and are all about family, love and sisterhood.”
As a beneficiary of the boarding programme at Queens, sponsored by AVI, Sinentlantla misses the connection with the KYP programme in Soweto during the week, but acknowledges that her academics are benefitting from living so close to school. And the boarding arrangement makes her participation in her drumming seamless, she never misses a practice. She may not be big enough to sit astride the big drum, but she makes it work, resting on one knee and balancing on top – following the beat and her passion.
Above: Sinentlantla and Gugu Mabona and drums! Gugu Mabona teaches English at Jeppe Girls, and co-ordinates the President's Award for the Ruth First Trust.