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“Fire Poi” and “Dynamite” Basketball in Johannesburg

South Africa: Michael Mount Waldorf School is located in the heart of Johannesburg, one of the 40 largest metropolitan areas in the world and the source of a large-scale gold and diamond trade. Johannesburg is a thriving city full of contrasts. Those who earn enough money can enjoy the many benefits of a western lifestyle, but there is also poverty, lack of infrastructure, crime, grinding traffic, and other problems.

The School was founded in 1960. Initially a small kindergarten in a private back garden, Michael Mount finally put down roots in 1969 in the suburb of Bryanston. In those days Bryanston was in the “sticks” and the school had a farm like quality. Today Michael Mount is a city school, as Johannesburg has grown to be the largest and most populous city in South Africa. Currently around 670 pupils attend Michael Mount from kindergarten all the way to Grade 12.

The school community is middle class from diverse backgrounds. The predominant home as well as teaching language is English but children may also speak one of the black African languages or Afrikaans or a European language.

Being in the Southern Hemisphere lends a different quality to the festivals, for example, Advent is a summer festival at Michael School. One of the school community’s annual highlights is the mid-winter festival of St. John. Recently, Class 8 treated the audience to a mesmerising display of fire poi (fire dance) before lighting the huge bonfire. And everyone enjoyed the lantern procession on the darkened sports field.

South Africans are sports mad. Playing sport or supporting sports teams from the side-lines is a big part of South African culture. At Michael Mount there are dynamite basketball teams who are known throughout Gauteng for their prowess and dominance.

Michael Mount Waldorf School is in the process of acquiring more land to accommodate the growing school in the future. The pressure is on because the suburb is changing rapidly. It used to be purely residential but businesses are buying up the land and the gracious old homesteads are being replaced by office parks and townhouse developments.

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