‘Need is indeed, the mother of invention’
African Legend has been active since 2008 and has assisted over 290 youth to acquire valuable skills and become more education-focused. African Legend impacts learners from previously disadvantaged backgrounds by providing educational programmes that allow them to be successful. African Legend believes that individuals are dramatically influenced by their support systems and are determined to expand the perspective of learners and make them aware of life's possibilities. The organisation’s vision is to see young people educated and trained with the required skills to further enhance the socio-economic development in South Africa.
Eight years ago, Delphin, African Legend’s founding member and head of Educational and Skills Development Programmes, decided to offer extra classes to grade 12 learners at the Vista High School. The experience was a humbling one and African Legend’s greatest milestone. Delphin stood apart, embarking a journey to many schools where he witnessed the lack of accessibility for learners to adequate education facilities in South Africa. Need is indeed, the mother of invention and as Delphin consciously thread this path, he gave careful consideration to the startling numbers that make up the high fail rate and dropout rate, the low literacy and numeracy levels and the high unemployment rate of youth in South Africa.
In efforts to make a substantial change, Katja Steenkamp, a highly skilled marketing and public relations professional, joined to help transform his dream into a far-reaching organisation called African Legend. Together, they explored the demographics of areas in extreme poverty in Cape Town, and two areas were identified as having one of the lowest levels of education, Delft and Du Noon. With limited funding, they collectively created a results-oriented team that would voluntarily spare their time to support vulnerable learners with subjects that they are unable to assimilate at school. Today, the African Legend volunteer team strives to exceed expectations; it has a strong network of partner organisations, schools and communities that work hand-in-hand with us.
As the organisation’s work translated into communities, it was discovered that many schools were highly under-resourced; where some of the learners had not set foot into a science lab, did not have sufficient classrooms, desks, textbooks or a school library. African Legend approached community leaders and schools to understand their needs and designed educational and skills development programmes that would match their needs.
Objectivity is Key
African Legend’s primary objective is to affect learners at their home-base, by offering after school programmes without charge, which ultimately increase the pass rate. The organisation endeavours to make learning rewarding and results-orientated. Early this year (2013), Ngoyi, teacher at African Legend, asked her Grade 9 learners to visualise their career aspirations, one of the learners, Xolisa imagined herself as the first female president of South Africa and meeting her icon Nelson Mandela. Not long after, Xolisa, who had an average mark of 33 percent in mathematics, ecstatically announced a 65 percent mark in her examination. Ngoyi not only prepared the learners for the examination but allowed them to understand how to manage the expectations of their aspirations.
African Legend’s secondary objective is to inspire pro-social friendships and strong interpersonal and leadership skills. The organisation builds confidence in young people and encourages them to establish goals and follow through on commitments so that they will be prepared for university and the job market. African Legend launched its first sports programme in Delft, March 2010. The Claremont Rotary Club and Nicholson Textiles came forward with soccer equipment and gear gifts. The atmosphere was euphoric, with learners wearing their brand new gear with pride and parents in high spirits to see their children off the streets. African Legend’s sport programmes has been proof positive, that sports improves self-confidence and teamwork among the youth.
African Legend’s final objective is to stimulate basic scientific understanding through mathematics, science experiments and educational excursions. In 2011, Dr Wim Fuls, a mechanical nuclear engineer introduced science experiments at the organisation’s classes, the results were phenomenal - learners drew to the edge of their seats in curiosity and the pass rate increased significantly that year. African Legend’s educational excursions has been an essential element in allowing learners to see the results of education in the real world.
African Legend is very fortunate to be able to introduce weekly Saturday classes at Cape Town City Library, where learners have access to literature, electronic resources, magazines, journals and information-retrieval skills. African Legend also felt compelled to channel their energies into art and culture, in February 2009, the organisation joined the Muizenberg Youth Festival committee so that learners could perform in the ARTAPART production. With remarkable natural rhythm and soulful voices, the learners created an impressive first time performance.
Challenges come and go!
Over time, African Legend’s programmes have had extraordinary success and previous learners continue to act as role models. In 2011, Linda Wayiti, one African Legend’s accounting students, was accepted at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. In her first year of study, she received a distinction in accounting. Other learners look up to their teachers and often visit them at their homes for additional tuition.
The request to take on more learners increased, sadly, the organisation is not always able to accommodate them due to insufficient classroom facilities. African Legend’s hope is to convert shipping containers into fully equipped classrooms to ensure regular classes without limitations, this will provide the organisation with a community presence and a consultation centre in Delft and Du Noon.
African Legend’s daily challenge remains keeping learners focused, after a long day at school especially during winter where many of them are cold and hungry. The organisation often has to go the extra mile, working with vulnerable learners means that educators have to become more than just educators but also look beyond and care for the well-being of the learners by providing them with a meal before the class starts. African Legend’s team and German sister organisation, strives to build the fundraising and events management arm by seeking long-term and sustainable solutions that provides noticeable results.
The Road Ahead
African Legend’s scope of programmes is not limited to high schools, the organisation partners with other organisations like KIKUS and Wordsworks that provide language programmes, strengthen early literacy, language development and the integration of a second language at primary schools. African Legend understands that many learners do not possess the required English language skills to cope at school and facilitate weekly small group visual language exercises to improve the use of vocabulary and expression in a second language. African Legend will therefore start this new project at primary schools in Hout Bay, Du Noon, and Delft in 2014.
‘Transforming the world through many small acts of kindness’
African Legend’s motto is ‘Today’s help is tomorrow’s future’ which highlights the organisation’s focus to transform the world through many small acts of kindness. Today the organisation has 22 dedicated volunteers, who receive recognition from schools for outstanding community service. African Legend has an outstanding board of directors and advisors who monitor, evaluate and measure the success of the programmes.
If you believe that every child has the right to a great education, African Legend hopes you will partner with them. For more information, visit their website and social media platforms where the organisation continuously uploads unedited photo memorabilia of its work in action.
To view African Legend in the Prodder NGO Directory, click here.
‘Need is indeed, the mother of invention’