In an evening to remember, Listening Beautifully did more than evoke emotions of joy in the listeners: it provoked contemplation. By the end of the evening participants shared a deep rooted understanding of the fundamental importance of reading, stories and knowledge in the development of a child. This fundraiser reflected the aim of Children’s Book Network, which is to connect children to books in a fun way, so that books can be an interesting tool rather than a dreaded duty.
The fundraising event’s theme seemed straightforward and simple, yet the performers were diverse and complex. Croc E Moses opened with a short series of performance poems that gripped the heart almost before the listener had a chance to savour his words. A mixture of praise and protest, the words as seen on a page might have seemed nonsensical, yet when performed they made perfect sense.
Sindiwe Magona followed with selected readings from her recent children’s books, readings which shone a light on various weaknesses in the current social system, the education system and even the home. The steps being taken by the government to address the shortfall in education standards, she declared, were as effective as calling a plumber for a tsunami. Her stern tone was reminiscent of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu with a point to make. And it was made with gravity.
To lighten the proceedings, the colourful violin of Anele Mhlahlo soared with elation. His face glowed with his joy in music. The cherry on the cake was a simple story of a reunited couple on Valentine’s Day, accompanied by classical flourishes creating the atmosphere for the story. Finishing it off, Gcina Mlophe displayed her polished talents in performance. Her skills in song and storytelling filled the Centre for the Book as she highlighted the happiness that should be in every child’s face when reading or listening to a book. With the help of Children’s Book Network that happiness is something that will light up homes across South Africa.
Children’s Book Network’s Listening Beautifully took place on 7 July 2014 in the Centre for the Book.