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News from the Consulate

Western Province Snaps Up Top Honors in Black History Month Poetry Competition

BHM Competition

Top winners from Cape Town with Consul General Erica Barks-Ruggles and Western Cape MEC for Education Donald Grant.

BHM Competition

Consul General Barks-Ruggles congratulates a proud parent at the May 25 awards ceremony.

May 25, 2012 - “This is a wonderful honor,” said Grace Brain, age 14, of Cape Town after receiving a laptop as national winner of the U.S. Black History Month poetry contest sponsored by the U.S. Diplomatic Mission to South Africa.  Brain’s poem titled “Tata,” bested hundreds of other competitors who wrote on the theme of “Heroes.”  

Brain tells a story of when she first met her hero and how, with time, she came to realize how truly special the moment was:  “When I was small, I met you for the first time and (by small I mean three) I cried…When I was older, I understood why you were so important and wished I could remember you more clearly.”

Hundreds of entries were received from across South Africa, detailing heroic deeds, inspiring events, and moments of personal courage, integrity, and bravery.  A highlight of the May 25 awards ceremony, held in Pretoria with video links to Cape Town and Durban, came when second place winner Mbasa Sigcau gave a passionate rap-style reading of his poem “Soldier Without a Rifle.”  Top national winner in the 16-18 year age category, 17 year-old Seshadari Moodley of Cape Town, said of his heroine Maya Angelou:  “Her words a dove’s protecting wing.  A sanguine shield for all oppressed. She sings the song of parity.”

In Cape Town, Consul General Erica Barks-Ruggles hosted a function attended by 48 special guests, including the contest winners, proud parents, school principals, contest judges, U.S. Mission officials, members of the local media, and representatives of the Western Cape Education Department, including Western Cape MEC for Education Donald Grant.  Grant said that he was “surprised by the thoughts of our youth as they grapple with issues and individuals.” 

Most importantly, the competition and awards ceremony generated a positive dialogue between all involved and cultivated friendship and cooperation among Americans and South Africans.