These images focus on the drum majorettes at Dr V an Der Ross Primary School, located in one of the poorest areas of Cape Town, where gang violence and drug abuse is prevalent. At the school and in the wider community, there is an aspirational culture around school’s team, affectionately known as the ‘dru mmies’.
While there have been various debates around the notions of femininity that drum majorettes represent, in a number of marginalised communities across South Africa, there are schools where is taken seriously as a highly competitive sport. For the g irls at this school, being a ‘drummie’ is a privilege and an achievement, indicative of success on and off the field. It gives them a positive focus and sense of belonging, providing them with structure in a community where opportunities are limited. As a female – only sport, ‘Drummies’ is vehicle through which they can excel, and the distinctive uniform serves as a visual marker of this perceived success and emancipation from their surroundings.
This is part of my on – going work exploring notions of feminin ity and empowerment in modern society, and with my continuing investigation into this subculture, I hope to communicate the pride and confidence that these girls have achieved through identifying as ‘drummies’ in a context where they face many social chall enges.
There is an intense practice schedule for the drum majorettes team, who practices in various locations around the school depending on court and field availability. Here, they practice in one of the school quads, recently re-decorated as part of an initiative to help the pupils recap lessons and emphasise values.
Keasher Malgas waits in the team’s kitroom before practice. They store their uniforms and equipment in a space in the school garage space, which is also used as the changing room for the team. The team’s busbys (the specialised hats) are kept safe in plastic containers.
Themeline Mentoor, Amber Matthews, Ra’eesha Maneveldt and Keashar Malgas. On one of the schools outer fields, sometimes used for drill practice.
When the drum majorettes aren’t practicing, the gates from the courts to the school remain locked. Security is a problem in the area, and the children always have to supervised.
At 5, Dernika Williams is the youngest member of the drum majorettes team. She practices constantly during class and school breaks.
The school has one sports court, which is used by all the sports teams. The drummies have to be supervised when using this court, there are active gangs present around the periphery of the schools property.
Tammy-Lee Banies is grade 6, and is one of the senior members of the team.
Keisha Ncube is 9 years old, and is in her third year of being in the drum majorettes team.
Amber Matthews and Ra’eesha Maneveldt are two of the junior members of the drum majorettes team. Most of the girls join the team very young, in their first year of school.
There are girls of various ages who will compete in the same team, the sport is known and praised for the way involvement can improve girls teamwork skills.
Jo-dean Martin, who is the ‘drummies’ team ‘leader, and Ashnique Paulse, the team ‘sub-leader’ wear pink and white busbys, signalling their senior positions in the team. Ashnique Paulse is in her final year at Dr Van Der Ross. She will be discontinuing the sport next year when she starts high school due to financial constraints.