Young people in Diepkloof township
In 1990, after hearing on the BBC that underprivileged youngsters in the township of Diepkloof in Johannesburg didn’t have any access to music lessons, British violin player Rosemary Nalden called on her fellow musicians to busk in British train stations to raise money. Two years later, she traveled to Soweto with a project to open a music school for these disadvantaged young people, who are confronted with violence, drugs and discrimination on a daily basis. Her goal was to help them unlock their full potential and learn to play music to the highest possible standards.
Buskaid now has 115 students, with 20 or so young people joining the program every year. Participants like Bokamoso, Kabelo, Nathi and Lesogo knew nothing about music before they started, but were motivated and determined to learn. As well as works by Mozart, Rameau and Bartók, they play arrangements of traditional township kwela and gospel music. Together, they also learn the values of teamwork, respect for others and self-discipline.
Total has supported the school since the very beginning, contributing to construction of the building, the musical education program, local concerts and international tours. As part of Total Foundation’s commitment to education in the arts and culture, the Group’s South African affiliate nurtures close, longstanding ties with this nonprofit, which works to use music as a tool for personal fulfillment and social cohesion.
Over 20 years, the Buskaid String Ensemble has built a strong reputation through its international tours. It is known for its energy, creativity and vibrant renditions, reflecting its African roots. The orchestra has performed for many renowned artists, as well as Nelson Mandela, Queen Elizabeth II and Michelle Obama. Some students from the Buskaid String Project have earned places at prestigious international music academies, including Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and London’s Royal Academy of Music. Others have become professional musicians or teachers for Buskaid. They are all living proof of the power of music to release talent and bring communities together.