Drum majorettes or “drummies”, first appeared in the 1970s with marching girls performing in street parades. Today, in many South African schools it is a competitive sport.
When Karin Verster first offered her help with the drummies programme at Hottentots Holland High School in 1982, she had no idea that 40 years later she would still be active in the sport, having made a difference to hundreds of girls’ lives.
She formed a recognised Western Province Majorette Association with the National Federation SAMCA and is currently the chairlady of WP Majorette and Cheerleading Association.
“My motivation to keep going is to see how these girls grow into young beautiful ladies and make a success of their lives,” says Karin.
“our group of girls represent all different cultures, religions and beliefs. They carry out to their different communities the values of life, love for each other, and the message that you can reach your dreams in life if you believe in yourself, and have self respect, especially towards their bodies.
Kéahna Jansen from Eersteriver, the team leader of the HHH Drum Majorettes, says, “Being a part of the team has impacted me positively, has built up my confidence and elegance. It has disciplined me and allowed me to be able to work in a team. It’s not every man for themselves but rather everyone working together to achieve one goal”.
The group consists of 70 girls this year, but differs each year between 40 to 75. Three ex-Majorettes also assist with training. “When we have a rehearsal it is like a normal practise, but when it is a competition day it is really going mad,” says Karen.
Keahna says, “A day at practice is a challenge and at times tough. A lot of time goes into the displays that are a minimum of 5 minutes and more. Memorising every move, every formation and putting all of it together is time-consuming and a lot of hard work. We start off with a warm-up and a prayer and then we take it from there. We practice the displays over and over, but we definitely enjoy ourselves and interact well with the coaches, because we love doing what we do and we love getting things done. For the past 6 years our group has been Western Province Champ of Champs and we would like to stay in that position and to better our current place of 4th in SA.
Without a doubt, Keahna’s favourite part is the National Competitions when the team travels to different provinces each year for a week to compete nationally and see which team will be crowned the National Champs. Keahna says that just being with the coaches and the team is by far the best experience, “My favourite memory was in 2017 when I first joined the team. Nationals took place in Durban that year and we went to Ushaka Marine World and had a great time. We really bonded as a team that year and I couldn’t be more grateful for all the friends I made and the memories we shared.”
What motivates and inspires the team is definitely one another. “Our differences allow us to try and understand each other more. This allows us to bond and also helps us to work better as a team. Some of us are more experienced than the others, but this makes us want to help each other and motivate each other, because we can learn a lot from one another, and I think that’s the beauty of it all,” says Keahna.
“I am more outspoken now because drummies allowed me to express myself in a respectful way and taught me how to work under pressure and still get the job done,” says Keahne, “I can’t speak for the other girls, but I can guarantee you that in a year or two those girls will be confident and resilient and will also grow to be strong young women”.
“People can support this group with anything; the Cape Town Carnival committee supported us with fantastic food parcels, toiletries and electricity. Lots of our families are living below the breadline so any help is appreciated. When going on tour, we need to raise funds, your contribution will make a world of difference,” says Karin.
Despite the challenges of day-to-day life, Keahna has a clear and positive message, “From what I have learnt so far in life, I would say to just be your true self and not allow others to dictate your future. To just be genuinely happy and not worry about others opinions. It is your life to live after all, and if you are still unsure of where you are going in life, just remember that you will find your purpose in life as I am still finding mine, but I won’t give up.
HHH DRUMMIES is one the Cape Town Carnival Community Group participants. The #followyouheART initiative was developed to help the local community groups gain more recognition and exposure and give the participants opportunities to perform.
Encouraging people to follow their passion, showcase their art and be inspired by what makes them dance or sing, this initiative encourages you to #followyourheART #findyourgroup, especially during these isolating times.