TV series: ordinary people show the way

1 November 2011

The third episode of Brand South Africa’s Play Your Part TV series, featuring up-and-coming musician Brandon Phillips, community farmer Jimmy Botha, and high school with a difference The Ethembeni Enrichment Centre, broadcasts on SABC 1 at 12h30 on Sunday, 6 November.

The 13-part television series promoting Brand SA’s Play Your Part campaign features inspirational stories of ordinary citizens getting out there to change the lives of others in their neighbourhoods, their communities and their cities.

Brand SA has travelled the length and breadth of the country asking ordinary South Africans how they are playing their part for positive social change, in the process uncovering a range of inspirational stories to share with the nation.

From humble roots, pursuing excellence

This week, the show features Brandon Phillips, who has broken into an artistic field that was the preserve of white South Africans.

As principal bassoonist for the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, and winner of the inaugural Len van Zyl Conductors Competition, Phillips is the heir-apparent for the illustrious position as the orchestra’s conductor – quite a journey for the young man whose first gig was in a small ensemble in his local church in Mitchell’s Plain.

The serene mountains of the Magaliesburg are a far cry from the loud sounds and hard streets of Westbury, where Jimmy Botha spent much of his youth. Farming was the unlikeliest of career paths for a city boy who had spent his adult life as a contractor for one the country’s largest telecoms corporations.

But tilling the land has brought unexpected joy to Botha, who now runs the successful Tila’s Herbs farm, which has brought much needed employment opportunities for the local population.

Applying the right basic principles

The Ethembeni Enrichment Centre began its life as a response the education crisis that had crippled the country’s township schools. The idea was to provide a place for matric students who wanted to improve their marks. Today the school has over 400 students, and is a fully fledged high school teaching grades 8-12.

Ethembeni’s secret seems to lie in the five basics that are strictly adhered to: 100% attendance; completion of homework; parent involvement; respect for property and people; and punctuality.

Through these, Ethembeni has turned the tide on the low morale and ill-discipline that plagues so many schools in similar circumstances – in the process becoming the largest student feeder for the University of Port Elizabeth.

‘Each one of us can make a difference’

“There are a number of opportunities, big and small, where each and every one of us can make a positive difference in the communities in which we live and operate,” Brand South Africa CEO Miller Matola said at the launch of the new show.

The TV series “will lift the spirits and inspire all South Africans with examples of how their fellow citizens are creating a South Africa we can all be proud of”.

Play Your Part is a social movement created by the Brand South Africa to inspire, empower and celebrate active citizenship. For more information, visit

SAinfo reporter