Meeting the Grannies
South African Women's Day Event

© Aaron Polikoff

Marimba Jam

On Women’s Day, the Marimba Jam team, a company that teaches Marimba to underprivileged schools in Cape Town, organised an event, which saw 241 female participants break the world record for the biggest Marimba ensemble. SouthAfrica.co.za and Siyabona Africa had the pleasure of sponsoring this event, which included the GAPA grannies as they participated in the Marimba workshops and enjoyed the festivities.

Before the event, the grandmothers arrived at the Tygervalley Shopping centre, dressed beautifully for the occasion, greeting the southAfrica.co.za staff with broad smiles and inviting hugs. The ladies were all over 60, but walked with ageless dignity.

The grandmothers enjoyed a gourmet breakfast at Cafe Rousse. The ladies sat closely together as they eyed the menu and discussed their options. Every time a granny was asked how she was doing, if everything was alright or if she needed anything, a kind, sincere smile played across her lips. Her eyes shone as she was acknowledged, nodding that everything was okay.

Life Lessons

©Aaron Polikoff
Instead of enjoying retirement, many of the grandmothers have to still provide for their family, take care of their grandchildren and stand as pillars of support in their community. But the elation as the women spoke of their time at the GAPA was palpable.

Zodwa Femela shared a pensive moment with me, reflecting on her role as a caregiver. “We gogos in the community, we take care of our grandchildren. But, we also take care our our neighbour´s grandchildren. We share the love, and help each other grow. Your child is my child, and my child is your child.” Another granny, Florence Hlagadala nods in agreement. “We are not selfish. We share everything.”

Zodwa also discussed how GAPA recently started an aftercare for the children they look after. “We started the aftercare after we realised that when we went to our sessions at GAPA, the men in the family would abuse the children.” GAPA thus became a safe haven for all.

“Respecting the elderly is good. You can learn from us. We know a lot," Florence said with a smile.

The grannies share a mutual love and respect for each other, they are often seen laughing with one another or deep in conversation. The friendship between the women is something to behold. Through hardships, their friendships keep them strong in their effort to be a symbol of hope in their communities.