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 SAAF: 2nd in SANDF Choral Competitions
 Article by Cpl Lebogang Ramaboea Ad Astra magazine, Photos by WO2 David Nomtshongwana

South African Air Force (SAAF) Choir named 2nd overall winner at the 2014 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Choral Competition held in Durban. The event took place from 11-12 October 2014 at George Campbell School of Technology. First price was taken by Army Support Base (ASB) Eastern Cape with Army Support Base (ASB) Mpumalanga winning third place.


ASB Eastern Cape, the overall winner of the 2014 SANDF Choral Competition

The SAAF choir took 1st price in African section, a segment that left the wooden stage broken. The cracks on the stage came from all the jumping and stamping of the ‘ground’ that is required in most of the dance moves from African cultures. All the choirs gave it their all and nothing was left out during performance.

If the walls could talk there would testify about melodic voices inside the hall from those tasked to protect the territorial integrity of the country. The wooden stage does bare testimony of the roughness that is the African and South African culture.
The SAAF Choir was formed in 1991 under the name Air Force Base (AFB) Waterkloof and later in 2009 changed into the current name. Their aim is to enhance the image of the organisation at various events. One of their highlights was performing at the presidential inauguration of President Jacob Zuma, the current Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF.


2nd placed SAAF Choir under the direction of Cpl Ellias Kholane

Their reputation is built on a solid ground of winning various trophies in inter-service competitions. The choir’s history is well documented inside the SAAF and broader SANDF with performances in memorial services and charitable functions. They joined the interdepartmental choral association in 2006.


ASB Mpumalanga won 3rd position in the overall competition

Chief of the Air Force (CAF), Lieutenant General (Lt Gen) Zimpande Msimang told the audience that “they were all winners, for having taken their time to showcase their talent during the choral competition”. The visibly touched CAF promised to take his experience into the Military Command Council (MCC). “The MCC needs to know that they need to support you (the choir) and your talent”, said Lt Gen Msimang.

Lt Gen Msimang further noted that it was worrying that only soccer, rugby, and cricket were receiving lots of attention “it is about time we as leaders take choral music to another level”. He added that the history and legacy of South Africa is safe branding the singers as “custodians of our culture”.


Victory parade by the SAAF Choir hoisting conductor Cpl Ellias Kholane up their shoulders

The choral competition was about cultural expression and the promotion of moral and esprit de corps. This two days event rotates amongst the provinces where the SANDF has bases and units and sponsored by AVBOB and SANLAM.

The competition comprised of 10 choirs from around the country, they battled against each other with a variety of songs. The choral competition was spread into the following categories:
• African Section:       SAAF Choir 72%
                                ASB Eastern Cape 70%
                                ASB Mpumalanga 69%

• Western Section:     ASB Eastern Cape 76%
                               ASB Mpumalanga 71%
                               121 Battalion 70%

• Choice Song:          ASB Eastern Cape 76%
                               SAAF Choir 71%
                               121 Battalion 70%

• Indigenous Section: SA Army 80%
                               SAAF Choir 74%
                               ASB Mpumalanga 72%

Ms Thokozani Ndlovu one of the three adjudicators advised the musical director to always do research before a competition. The conductors also needed to have a “holistic approach to a lifestyle” said Ms Thokozani Ndlovu. She further sang few notes, as an old cliché says “a leader must lead by example”. She was able assisted by Njabulo Shozi and Sipho Mtshali.


 

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