Heritage Day Hike
Heritage Day is a holiday celebrated in South Africa on the 28th September to celebrate the rich history, culture and diversity in the country. The aim of the day is to unite and motivate the citizens of South Africa to remember their roots and embrace their heritage.
Africa Unite celebrated this auspicious occasion with the Africa Unite School Club (CPT) by hosting a Heritage Day hike which started from Newlands forest to Rhodes memorial in Rondebosch, Cape Town. On the day we had 42 learners from Masibambane Secondary School, Heideveld High School, Dr. Nelson Mandela High School and Hector Petersen High School, who were accompanied by 10 Africa Unite team members and volunteers. We had the assistance of Andile Nqoko from South African Education Project (SAEP) who advised on the best routes to go through and lead the hike for us on the day.
The purpose of the hike was to enable the learners to gain exposure to the different sites in Cape Town and to enjoy the beauty of the city that they were not often exposed or provided the opportunity to. A hike was chosen, as hiking tests an individual’s strength and self-persistence, while simultaneously enabling them a moment to meditate on their perspective of the world and themselves. Many of the learners had never been on a hike before and they did not know what to expect or how to come accurately prepared, this was seen through the attire some the learners came to hike in such as jeans and skirts.
Newlands Forest is a conservancy area on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, beside the suburb of Newlands, Cape Town. It is owned and maintained by the Table Mountain National Parks Board, along with the City Parks Department of Cape Town. The route we chose to take was from Newlands forest, up to blockhouse and down to Rhodes memorial. The hike took approximately 4 hours due to the short breaks we had to take in between to allow the learners to catch their breath, take pictures and enjoy the scenery.
The hike was a challenge mentally and physically for many of the learners, due to their lack of consistent exercise and experience in hiking. In fact, many of the learners were struggling to continue moving forward, and were constantly inferring about how much longer it would take to get to the top. A few learners were struggling a bit more than others but with the moral support of their peers and the marshals motivating them to push forward, every learner managed to make it to the top at Blockhouse and to the end of the hike at Rhodes memorial.
The most memorable moments during the hike started in the taxi on the way to the hiking spot where the learners were harmoniously singing together in unison. It was incredible to witness how talented the school club learners are and how beautiful they were able to sing together. Additionally, regardless of how tired the learners were during the hike, once they got to the top they were all really excited to see the views of the city and also to see how far they had hiked up. They all spread around and started taking multiple pictures together and many even tried going further up despite how tired they appeared before arriving to the top. It was a pleasure to see how difficult it was for the marshals to get the learners to agree to go back down due to their desire to stay longer and enjoy the view and taking pictures of themselves and the scenery.
The feedback we got from the learners was very positive, despite the length on the hike and at times the difficulty of the route, learners commented that they enjoyed the hike and wanted hiking to be a consistent activity in the program. They stated that it was great exposure as they had never been to Newlands forest before and it was a great experience for team building.
- Make hiking a monthly or perhaps bi-monthly event with the kids.
- Future hiking trips should be shorter in length and match the level of fitness of the learners.
- Learners need to be fully explained the way in which to prepare accurately for a hike, such as the right clothes to wear and the importance of bringing enough water.
- AU should hold other team building activities outside of the office that permits the school club members to be outside as well as learning and experiencing new things.
- The learners need to be constantly reminded to take advantage of their surroundings and enjoy the moment instead of focusing on the end destination.
Thank you to the schools and parents who allowed our club members to join us on the hike, as well as to Andile Nqoko lead the hike.