THE “DRUMMIES” OF DR. VAN DER ROSS PRIMARY SCHOOL, CAPE TOWN
Our majorette team’s nickname is the Drummies; we have 51 members ranging from first to seventh graders. The routines are complex— they involve learning the choreography, mastering a mace or a flag, feeling the music. It’s a lot to remember, especially considering the youngest girls are only 6. We scold, instruct, and hope for the best. And inevitably, our jaws drop at how they excel. At a competition last year, the team left with a huge trophy and 40 medals. Walking with the medals clinking around their necks, the girls sounded like sheep. We were so proud.
Our area is very poor and crime-ridden. I can sympathize because I grew up in the ghetto, raised by a single mom under apartheid. Nowadays local gangs sometimes get into gunfights in the fields where the girls are practicing. We run for cover; when the shooting’s done, we go back outside and continue. Rain or sunshine, they must practice.
We’re strict with the girls. If you don’t keep a firm hand, gangsters will tempt the older ones onto a bad path: “With a boyfriend like me, you’d get plenty of money and jewelry....” Their parents might work long hours or struggle with addiction—at the end of practice recently, one 8-year-old complained, &