Time and the Valley


Some days are just wonderful. The last three days of CBN workshop in Clanwilliam have been days we will never forget – and we hope that none of the seventeen teenagers who attended will forget them either.

The theme was Time and the Valley, encompassing the archaeology, the history, the botany, the stories the culture and the landscape of the Olifants River Valley. But the scope was much wider as we touched on so many topics and life skills. It was hard work for everybody – but the most enormous amount of fun as well.

We stayed on the Living Landscape property, but roamed through millennia as we spoke of prehistory, watched a stone tool being made (a secret ambition of almost everyone), created and buried a time capsule of dreams, excavated a stone spiral, listened to recordings of San music and slam poetry, discovered that Clanwilliam’s teenagers know a whole lot about natural plant use, and experienced an overview of a different and very ancient lifeway.

Activities included choral verse – The Song of the Elephant River – music on rock gong and violin, in depth discussion of teenage life today in Clanwilliam and creating their own song, music from hip-hop performer and poet Blaq Pearl, making a quilt of Clanwilliam memories, grinding ochre and creating art on clay, pastel polychromatic animals on a life-size frieze, writing and – above all – reading – silently, in pairs and in groups!

As a cherry-on-the-top, FUNZA Literacy Trust attended on the afternoon of the third day and gave a splendid mini workshop that brought us firmly into the present with up-to-the-minute stories of real life for teenagers and a challenging writing session.

Books used were too many to be listed here. Books covered the tables and spread out on surfaces wherever the children were. They heard extracts from everything from unpublished manuscripts to Bleek and Lloyd collection gems. They laughed at funny picture books and concentrated on contemporary serious fiction; they read and absorbed non-fiction and dictionaries. They referred to maps and reference books. We made extensive use of the Cambridge University Press Rainbow readers, particularly the boxes on Time, Water and Archaeology.

It was breath-taking experience. The pictures tell the story.


We were very privileged to have a distinguished and expert team involved:

(PGS Heritage) – Wouter Fourie, Cedric Poggenpoel, Catherine Kyriacou, Cuan Hahndiek, Ross Lyall-Jennings

CBN Team: Lesley Beake, Rosemary Bangham, Anele Mhlahlo and Janine van Rooy Overmeyer (Blaq Pearl)

FUNDZA: Sonja Kruse and Zimkitha Mlanzeli

We had additional input from local poet and teacher, Walter Willies who talked to the participants, very effectively, about the power of words – and incidentally taught them how to make a new rain sound for their choral verse!

We could not achieve as much in Clanwilliam without the serious input from Clanwilliam Library, particularly Lizel Koopman and Emiline Jacobs, who attended every day of the workshop while Asanda Lobse kept the library operational. They not only register the children and drum up support, they also enter enthusiastically into every activity and are the life and soul of the party.

Thanks: This workshop was part of the Clanwilliam Dam Community Project (CDCP) in association with Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project, PGS Heritage and Clanwilliam Municipality, particularly their Library. Sponsorship for the workshops comes from the Department of Water and Sanitation as part of its Social responsibility programme associated with the raising of the Clanwilliam Dam wall.

Special thanks for local input:
Clanwilliam Superspar gave us a generous discount on groceries for feeding the children (a total of 75 meals were provided for the children, as well as snack breakfasts), and cash donations from Heather and Donald McAllister and an anonymous donor, were greatly appreciated. Thank you also to Liezel Hofman for being an excellent caterer for us all, as ever.
Thank you all for being part of the project.

A similar workshop for primary school children will be held from 13th to 16th July.

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