The Wits Choir joins the SRC and ARC in song to raise funds for the SRC’s #1student1degree campaign.

The Wits University Choir has collaborated with the SRC (Student Representative Council) and the ARC (All Residence Council) for the second time in the choir’s 57-year history to host an annual welcome concert in aid of students experiencing financial and accommodation difficulties.

All proceeds from the concert, which was held at the Wits Great Hall on Thursday, March 12, will go towards the SRC’s #1student1degree campaign. The total amount raised could not confirmed by the time of publication.

Dalene Hoogenhout, choir conductor and trainer, said that she supported the SRC and their campaign because she has first-hand knowledge of the issues; “I know for myself that with our own Wits Choir students, there are so many of them who are really struggling so much to get accommodation, and getting food.”

Hoogenhout has personally taken in a Wits choir member who has been struggling with issues of accommodation. “I had one of the guys in the Wits Choir that didn’t come back because he had accommodation issues. He wanted to sing in the choir but he lives in Pretoria and I just said to him, listen, stay at my house until we sort it out, so yes, it’s something that is close to my heart,” she told Wits Vuvuzela.

SRC president, Thuto Gabaphethe, who attended the concert, said that there are a number of challenges facing both the university and the SRC. These challenges include transformation, accommodation and finances. However, “many of those issues unfortunately require money and money must come from somewhere,” he said.

The #1student1degree campaign was launched by the SRC on during O-week in February to assist students to graduate.

Gabaphethe said that all students “that walk through the university, must leave the university with a degree,” regardless of their financial circumstances. Gabaphethe also said that the accommodation issue lies not in the lack of beds, but the lack of funds to finance beds. “We are trying as much as possible to raise money towards financing those beds,” he said.

Gabaphethe said the SRC wants to be proactive in helping the university to raise funds. “We cannot just protest and chant and Amandla and submit memorandum of demands whereas we are not doing stuff on our side as well, so this is us doing stuff on our side,” Gabaphethe  said.

The concert programme consisted of beautifully sung lullabies, folk songs, hymns, traditional play songs, and gospel songs in many different languages from many different countries. “That’s why there is such a feeling of togetherness on the stage and I think that’s what we show the audience,” said Hoogenhout.

The Wits Choir annual welcome concert is held at the start of the academic year to mark the arrival of new students to the institution and new additions to the choir itself.

FEATURED IMAGE: The Wits choir performing in the Great Hall for their annual welcome concert. Photo: Zainab Patel