The project was inspiring, and it affected everyone who was involved deeply. Talisman wrote a song, called Sindawonye, which the Hip Hop through History students wrote raps to. The groups of students in Cape Town and East Palo Alto decided on "access to quality education" as a theme that was relevant to both communities, so the lyrics were formed around this theme. The lyrics are in both English and Xhosa so that both students in the US and South Africa can understand them:
Singawutshintsha umhlaba wonke ngamazwe ethu, simunye
We can change the entire world with our voices, we are one
We are all together in one place
South Africa to USA
Cape Town to EPA
Brothers and sisters we join voices across the sea
Empowerment is the fight
And out knowledge is our right
Breaking down the walls with lyrical artillery
United together, we will sing
After putting together the song, we rehearsed it with the HHH students in East Palo Alto before taking it with us to Cape Town. Once in Cape Town, we workshopped the song with an afterschool youth choir, which allowed us to get to know a group of about 30 young South African singers. They taught us some of their music, and we taught them some of ours.
Then we had the kwaito dance teacher with the Amy Biehl foundation choreograph a dance to our song. The girls who danced it were fantastic. We videotaped the routine and brought it back to the US.
The final performance took place on May 29, 2008. As footage from South Africa played, Talisman and the HHH students performed "Sindawonye".
While the final performance marked a joyous conclusion to the project, the most impactful part of our work was working with the students. Talisman was able to bring a variety of new types of music to the HHH students, while they taught us what it was like to be a student in East Palo Alto, an experience foreign to many Talisman members. The students in South Africa were excited to be able to meet young Americans and interact with us for an entire week. Usually, visiting Americans do not stay with them for very long or interact with them on such a deep level. Thus, the most valuable part of the project for all involved was accessing communities with which we had formerly been unfamiliar and truly finding community in our love of music and our determination to break down barriers to accessing wide range of opportunities in both South Africa and the US. By performing our song at the Talisman Spring Show, we were able to show an audience of nearly 400 the value of cultural exchange and building international communities based on shared values.
-The first day Talisman met with the History through Hip Hop students and we shared our music with them/they shared their poetry with us: at the end of the session, we sang while they freestyle danced to our song, and everyone left very excited.
-Singing our song, "Sindawonye," with a choir of young South Africans, and really feeling the power of the lyrics.
-The spring show, when all of our work came together. We sang, the HHH kids danced, and we showed video footage of the kwaito dancers' choreography. It was a hit!