This is how our leaders are getting in line


Behind the boasts of drums, rows of straight-faced schoolchildren stand tall. This marching squad is in formation and they mean business. For Athrah Lakay, it’s a place of comfort beneath the tough veneer. In the face of uncertainty, the routine of the drill helps the 15-year-old pupil gain confidence in her next step.

Marching bands are well-loved within schools in the Mitchells Plain community. It’s a celebrated tradition in the Cape Flats, commemorated in the annual Kaapse Klopse festival. At Spine Road High School, Lakay and her schoolmates assemble every week to practise. The military-like precision takes Lakay’s mind off her challenges. “Once you hit the field, you forget everything,” she says. The unified movement has taught Lakay to put teamwork and discipline at the forefront of her actions. “We have a strong bond, and I learnt to be that way outside the drill squad as well,” she says.

Lakay is only in Grade 9. But with the spirit of the squad drummed into her core, she has a bright future ahead. Coming from different backgrounds, her schoolmates can shake off life’s complexities and focus on being together when they’re at practice. “I’m part of a team now,” Lakay says. “It’s something worth showing up for.” The marching band imbibes students with sound values, vivid memories, and a resilience that endures long after the home bell rings.