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On-line version ISSN 2304-8557
Print version ISSN 0023-270X

Koers (Online) vol.77 n.1 Pretoria  2012




Singing for your supper: Staff singing for transformation and teambuilding in a South African bank


Sing vir jou aandete: Personeel sing vir transformasie en spanbou in 'n Suid-Afrikaanse bank



Alta van As

School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa





Transformation entails meaningful change. In South Africa (as is increasingly the case in Europe and elsewhere), such change hinges on interaction and communication between citizens of different cultures, ethnicities and languages. Where the inability to speak the others' language(s) can inhibit real interaction and genuine communication, choral singing proffers unique opportunities for shared communicative experiences. In 2005, Dr Steve Booysen, then Group Chief Executive of the Absa Group, initiated an internal choir festival as a platform for social interaction and teambuilding for staff across all cultures, age groups and post levels in the bank. Booysen envisaged the choir project as a means of moral support during the Absa-Barclays merger. This article reports on the results of a Doctoral investigation into the extra-musical benefits of this project for Absa, such as transformation and teambuilding. Choral singing as social capital is discussed. The Absa choir project can serve as a microcosm of larger multicultural, multilingual macrocosms. The benefits attained through communal singing in this project may also hold possibilities for attaining unity in diversity in South Africa.


Transformasie behels betekenisvolle verandering. In Suid-Afrika (soos toenemend ook die geval is in Europa en elders) is sodanige verandering afhanklik van die interaksie en kommunikasie tussen landgenote van verskillende kulture, tale en rasse. Terwyl die onvermoë om mekaar se tale te praat ware interaksie en kommunikasie kan inhibeer, bied koorsang unieke geleenthede vir gesamentlike kommunikasie-ervarings. Dr Steve Booysen, destyds Groep Uitvoerende Hoof van die Absagroep, het in 2005 'n interne koorfees ingestel om te dien as platform vir sosiale interaksie en spanbou vir personeel van alle kultuurgroepe, ouderdomme en posvlakke in die bankgroep. Booysen se visie was dat hierdie koorprojek sou dien as 'n middel tot morele ondersteuning gedurende die Absa-Barclays-samesmelting. Hierdie artikel fokus op die resultate van 'n doktorale studie wat die nie-musikale voordele van koorsang, soos transformasie en spanbou, ondersoek. Die Absa-koorprojek kan gesien word as 'n mikrokosmos van 'n groter, multikulturele, veeltalige makrokosmos. Die voordele wat die samesang in die koorprojek teweeg gebring het, mag belofte inhou vir die bou van eenheid in diversiteit in Suid-Afrika.



Full text available only in PDF format.



Competing interests

The author declares that she has no financial or personal relationships which may have inappropriately influenced her in writing this article.



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