I was four years old when I asked Ausi (aunty in Sesotho) Paulina to teach me a Sesotho song. She made the song come to life by translating the lyrics and adding colour by sharing the story behind them. This song sparked many others and without realising it, I started learning more about Sesotho culture and expanding my vocabulary. Throughout my life, my ability to communicate in Sesotho as well as my understanding of African cultures, put me in a very fortunate position to form spontaneous connections and friendships with people from different cultural backgrounds.
Many songs and many years later, the "Africa Kids" seedling grew in my heart… I could make a CD of children singing these traditional South African songs - to fill the void of recordings in this genre.
November 2011: On my way home after picking up my newly released Africa Kids CDs (all 300 of them!), I stopped at a petrol station to fill up my car. I was talking to an elderly petrol attendant in Sesotho and I felt it right to make him the first owner of an Africa Kids CD. While listening to some tracks on my car's CD player, I was deeply touched by the tears rolling down his cheeks. With overwhelming joy, he shared with me that he had learned these songs as a young boy; hearing them took him back to that precious time in his life.
I was consumed by enthusiasm and began teaching these songs to my first junior choir. During their debut performance, they captured the essence of "Ntatemoholo" (the first Sesotho song I learned) with energy and humour, making it a resounding success. A colleague then asked me to notate the song for her choir, sparking a chain reaction for more songs. An inner urgency compelled me; the world needed to share in the joy of forging connections between diverse cultures through music. An idea crystallized: In 2022, the Africa Kids Songbookcame to fruition. A book containing South African traditional songs, complete with melodies, lyrics, translations, piano accompaniments, and historical context.
The Africa Kids Piano Book came as an answer to one of my eager-to-learn piano pupils: “Teacher Nicolie, please teach me to play ‘Ntatemohpolo’ on the piano”.Then the two best friends were thrilled to perform the “Thula thula” duet in the concert.