Bambisanani Partnership

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The Bambisanani Partnership
Bambisanani Partnership logo
MottoWorking Together, Learning Together
FounderDavid Geldart[1]
Registration no.1163461 (England and Wales)
FocusLeadership, Sport, Education, Sustainability and Cooperation
Coordinates53°52′40″N 1°43′33″W / 53.87773°N 1.72578°W / 53.87773; -1.72578

The Bambisanani Partnership is a collaboration developed by St Mary's Menston Catholic Voluntary Academy in Leeds, England and Mnyakanya School in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. "Bambisanani" is the Zulu word for “working hand in hand” and encapsulates the partnership between the two schools. With the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, the Bambisanani Partnership has used sport as a catalyst to develop international understanding, education, health and leadership.[2] The initiative, which began in 2006, has gained both national and international acclaim.[3]

The Nkandla region is in the heart of Zululand and is extremely deprived with 90 per cent unemployment, 60 per cent adult illiteracy and one of the highest AIDS rates in the world with one in three adults infected.[1] 20 percent of children never go to school, many unable to afford the school fees and uniform costs.[4] Mnyakanya High School was opened by Nelson Mandela and Jacob Zuma in 2004.[5] The school serves a vast area and many students walk two hours to and from school each day. Class sizes are in excess of 60 and the school has very limited resources. Mnyakanya has over 850 students.

Celebrities who support the Bambisanani Partnership include the Kaiser Chiefs,[6]Harry Potter actor Matthew Lewis[7] and Sir Trevor Brooking. [8]


The road to Mnyakanya High School, Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Many pupils walk for several hours.

The Bambisanani Partnership began in 2006 when David Geldart, Assistant Headteacher at St. Mary's Catholic High School, Menston first visited Mnyakanya High School.[9]

In 2007, David Geldart returned to Mnyakanya with two Sixth form pupils. The purpose of the week-long visit was to conduct joint leadership training with South African learners, sport assistants, educators and volunteers.[10]

In 2008, St. Mary's was visited by Ina Cronje, Minister of Education, Kwa-Zulu Natal.[11]

Bambisanani Enterprises, a social enterprise was established in 2009. Zulu students have to produce and source local products, such as indigenous crafts to be sold in the UK. [9] The Bambisanani Partnership uses the typefaces Garamond and Helvetica Neue.

St. Mary's International Links mosaic, 2009. Created by students from both schools. The sun's rays represent the various international links St. Mary's enjoys. Note the South African flag.

The 14 St. Mary's pupils who visited South Africa in March 2009 received the inaugural Diana Certificate of Excellence Group Award.[12] In June 2009, Jacob Zuma made a speech at Mnyakanya School.[13] July 2009 saw the first (and so far only) visit by 14 Mnyakanya pupils to the UK.[14] During the visit, Mnyakanya students worked with St. Mary's students on a mural to celebrate international coo-operation. Later that year, Sally Bridgewater, a former pupil at St. Mary's organised a classical music concert to raise funds for the partnership.[15] Sally returned to Mnyakanya in 2010 to teach studying skills and was honoured in the Young People of The Year Awards.[16]

In 2010, twelve students from St Mary's accompanied four members of staff on a trip to Kwa Zulu Natal to help organise and run several events, including a Sports Festival. The Sports Festival included a football tournament involving over 200 students.[17] The pupils from St. Mary's who received the Diana Certificate of Excellence for this work, dedicated their award to Sbonelo Magwaza, a South African pupil they had worked with who had recently died. They had mentored 20 students from the Mnyakanya School including Sbonelo.[3][18][19]

In 2011, fourteen St. Mary's pupils travelled to Mnyakanya school and worked on art, creative writing and sport projects.[20] The pupils also spent time working with the Norwegian-based charity ‘Zulufadder'. Zulufadder supports and cares for HIV/AIDS orphans and vulnerable children by providing schools, orphanages, homes, day care, food, clothing and educational resources. St. Mary's students brought a range of equipment for Zulufadder orphans and worked at the day care centre which involved singing, dancing and playing sport with the children as well as serving meals.[21]

In 2012 a competition to celebrate the London 2012 Olympics called The Power Of Sport was held in both schools. The competition encompasses sport, creative writing and art.[22]

In summer 2012, the Bambisani Partnership was invited to appear at the Ilkley Literature Festival Fringe[23] to speak about the book Bambisanani: The First Five Years.

The Bambisanani Parthership has worked with The University of Leeds[24] and Leeds Trinity University[25] as partner organisations.


  1. ^ a b "Students serve poor in Zululand". Catholic Herald. 14 September 2011. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
  2. ^ "Ofsted 2010–11 subject survey inspection programme: personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education" (PDF). OFSTED. Retrieved 25 March 2012.
  3. ^ a b Redhead, Jonathan (15 February 2011). "St Mary's youngsters work with disadvantaged children in South Africa is recognised". Wharfedale Observer. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  4. ^ Wharfedale Observer - Menston school's efforts give children in poverty a chance
  5. ^ Mokgola, Thabo (3 March 2004). "South Africa: Zuma, Mandela to Open School". BuaNews (Tshwane). Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  6. ^ Wharfedale Observer - Kaiser Chiefs return to their Menston school
  7. ^ Ilkley Gazette - Return visit to Menston St Mary's for Matthew Lewis
  8. ^ Dallas Morning News - Auction of prized shirts to raise cash for Africas
  9. ^ a b "Enterprise Enhancement Fund 2009-2010 Brochure" (PDF). Enterprising Yorkshire. Retrieved 25 March 2012.
  10. ^ KwaZulu Natal Department of Sport and Recreation - United Kingdom and South Africa School Linkage Programme
  11. ^ Wharfedale Observer - Menston school is host to African visitors
  12. ^ "National acclaim for Menston globe-trotters". Yorkshire Post. 24 March 2009. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  13. ^ Makhave, Chris (7 June 2009). "I will remember where I came from - Zuma". iOl News. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  14. ^ Wharfedale Observer - African visitors at Menston school
  15. ^ Yorkshire Evening Post - Yorks pupils hold concert to help orphans in South Africa
  16. ^ Young People of The Year Awards - Sally Bridgewater
  17. ^ "Bantams in Africa". 4 October 2010. Retrieved 25 March 2012.
  18. ^ Yorkshire Post - Pupils honoured for Africa project
  19. ^ Bradford Telegraph & Argus - St Mary's youngsters work with disadvantaged children in South Africa is recognised
  20. ^ "Sixth-formers help transform lives of Africa's poorest people". Yorkshire Post. 15 September 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  21. ^ "Diocese of Leeds - St. Mary's project breaks new ground in South Africa". Archived from the original on 2012-07-30. Retrieved 2012-04-16.
  22. ^ "St Mary's youngsters work with disadvantaged children in South Africa is recognised". Yorkshire Post. 15 September 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  23. ^ "Iklkey Literature Festival - 2012 Programme". Archived from the original on 2012-10-29. Retrieved 2012-08-10.
  24. ^ "New Trustee for The Bambisanani Partnership". 19 November 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  25. ^ [ht "Leeds Trinity welcomed into the Bambisanani Partnership"]. 19 November 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2018.

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