Potchefstroom – “I am very grateful that I can be here. Nelson Mandela once said that children should be able to play freely. I’ve listened to him and decided to build this playground.”
Those were the words the Dutch singing sensation Amira Willighagen (9) spoke to the excited children of the township Ikageng near the city.
The occasion was the opening of a playground in quarter nr. 12, to which Amira made a substantial financial contribution from what she earned with her performances.
The playground has also been named after her.
“Thank you to all people who made this possible”, said Amira, referring to the other sponsors and to the municipality of Tlokwe in Potchefstroom, ensuring and supervising that all neccesary work has been done.
The other sponsors are the First National Bank, Rand Merchant Bank and KLM, the Dutch Royal Airlines.
The children of Ikageng immediately started off to test the swings, roundabouts and slides.
Yesterday, a dream has come true for both the children of Ikageng and Amira.
mother Frieda -who originally is from Potchefstroom- told that since the birth of their children in her new homeland (the Netherlands), they visit Potchefstroom each year to visit grandma Elsa Brand. Brand died in November last year.
“I’ve decided that our children shouldn’t only see their own little world, but also the township Ikageng”, Frieda told yesterday.
“Last time we were here (Amira was seven at that time) she realized that it seems different here than in her own world. She started dreaming about building a playground for the children here, and she wanted to be on TV.”
Amira said that her mother told her that she was allowed to be on TV if she were 9 years old and had practiced a lot. Although this dream was realized overwhelmingly with Amira winning Holland’s Got Talent, it also opened the door for Amira’s second dream: she donated half of her fees which she earned during last weeks performances near Cape Town to help finance the playground.
Barei Segotso, spokesman of the city council of Tlokwe, thanked Amira because she did remember her roots that go back to Potchefstroom. “You’ve made your grandma very proud.”
Dudu Modise, councilor of disctrict number 12 said in a soaking wet Potchefstroom that Amira bould locally become known as “Motlhalepule”, the one who came with the rain.
(article: Susan Cilliers/Beeld, edited/translated by AmiraFans)