Stories and Riels


CBN was very privileged to host a wonderful dance team at our Heritage Day workshop on September 24th. It began with a visit to Elizabethfontein Primary School with Natalie Leens, Senior Librarian for Clanwilliam.

Elizabethfontein is the only primary school that I know of that has an affectionate nickname – ‘Betjiesfontein’. We were treated to a rehearsal of the reel dance in the school hall (which also doubles as three classrooms most of the time) and the children danced in their school uniforms and bare feet. They wear out three pairs of veldskoene a year; such is the speed of the footwork! (Veldskoene are heavy working shoes made in this region. For dancing, they are almost always red.)

Then the headmistress, Mev Dames, came to talk to us. Her eyes lit up when she heard about Red Hill’s container library. (Guess what?) 

‘That’s our library,’ she said, pointing to a sponsored box in the corner. ‘But we have books in all the classrooms and books in the dormitories for the children. The aunties who look after the dorms go crazy because the books make it look untidy!’ This school has also won the national READ Educational Trust competition, competing against 500 schools, and the reel-mistress, Marianne Kotze, has won the national READ gold medal; a school to be reckoned with.

They immediately agreed to come and dance for the workshop on Heritage Day. ‘How many children can attend the workshop?’ When I said 25, the Principal and the reel-dancing teacher looked at each other. ‘We’ll bring 25!’

In fact, we already had fifteen participants signed up (from Sederberg Primary) but the promised contingent turned up on the day as promised – and so did the top dancing team from the school, the Betjies van Betjiesfontein. They joined us for lunch, danced for us before and afterwards and then joined us for the final Books and Stories session. They were fantastic!

Anyone who has a spare container hanging about should contact

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