Despite being a Roman Catholic school, Zingisa Comprehensive High School in Mthatha celebrates the diversity of cultures of their pupils in order to entrench and promote their individual roots and enhance their identity.
Of the more than 1,200 pupils, some are white, while the majority are AmaXhosa and some pupils are from as far as Nigeria and Zimbabwe.
Founded in 1986 the school is situated along the R61 just across the Mthatha River towards Port St Johns, on Mthatha's Mayden Farm.
Once a year the school holds celebrations where the pupils can celebrate their different cultures.
On this day AmaXhosa pupils bring traditional food such as iinkobe (maize kernels) and traditional artefacts including amakhuko (traditional mats) and share their importance to showcase the culture, while other groups bring items that allow them to showcase their cultures.
Speaking on behalf of the pupils, the learners’ representative council president Lwande Binase said the day was important to them as pupils as they got to celebrate their own cultures and learn more about other cultures.
Binase said: “This day is important as although our school is Catholic it shows that our cultures are important and all are celebrated and promoted equally.”
“We are allowed to explore various cultures and learn about them so that we do not undermine other cultures, instead we embrace them. Even if it is just one day it goes a long way to remind one of their culture,” he added.
He shared with other pupils the importance of knowing about imibhaco and their importance and about traditional initiation (the custom of ulwaluko).
Meanwhile, teacher Nangamso Gubelana who introduced the cultural day eight years ago said it had been triggered by witnessing that pupils were more focused on western cultures, wanting to be copycats of other cultures while in the process forgetting about their own cultures.
“I noticed that some pupils could not pronounce certain isiXhosa words,” said Gubelana.
He said that there had been a noticeable improvement in the event in the eight years it has been held at the school, with parents and teachers showing great interest with pupils coming with more innovative themes as portrayed in their performances.
He believes that embracing each other's culture could assist in addressing the issue of xenophobia and racism.