Nikita makes Tamil verse history
NIKITA Hermani Govender, an 8-year-old from Shallcross, made history by winning the prose category in the Regional Tamil Eisteddfod organised by the KwaZulu-Natal Tamil Vedic Society.
Candidates in this category had no prior knowledge of the Tamil verses and had to select two verses from six on the day of the eisteddfod, read it and then give the meaning.
The difference with Nikita, and other participants in her age group, is that she is blind.
For the first time in the history of the eisteddfod movement this was achieved.
When first approached by Nikita’s mother, Vani, for Nikita to participate, the eisteddfod co-ordinators could not find a solution.
The mother was determined that her daughter would participate and sought assistance from external sources.
She contacted Charmaine Govenden, a Tamil scholar from Gauteng, who prepared Nikita to learn the verses telephonically over two days.
Nikita then produced the Tamil verses in Braille, which was submitted to the eisteddfod administrators, and was used on the day of the eisteddfod in which she participated and came first.
She has now progressed to the provincial finals and possibly the national finals.
According to Nikita’s mom and dad, Ronnie, their eldest daughter, Nerissa, was born with Retts Syndrome, a rare and severe neurological disorder that mostly affects girls.
She is unable to walk, talk or use her hands.
Coming from a strong cultural background, their dream of their daughter singing or dancing was dashed.
When Nikita was born a few years later, their hopes were renewed.
However, fate got the better of them as Nikita was born blind due to medical negligence.
They lost all hope of their daughters pursuing a career in Bharatha Natyam dance and carnatic music.
According to Vani, it is a sad reality that today’s youth are fast losing their cultural identity.
They lack the drive and love for their language and culture.
She hoped her children would be different.
Nikita always showed interest, from a young age, and wanted to attend weekly religious and cultural events.
However, her mother Vani, who works six days a week, was unable to satisfy Nikita’s cultural needs.
The only day she had left was a Sunday, when she did household chores and spent time with her daughters, who needed special attention.
Logie Naidoo, a member of the Chatsworth Tamil Movement, who observed Nikita’s love for the Tamil language and culture, encouraged the youngster’s parents to enter her in the Tamil eisteddfod. And the rest is history. Little Nikita is a bubbly young girl whose hobbies include listening to religious music, singing and playing the tabla. She also speaks conversational isiZulu. Her dream is to become a singer and a lawyer because, “I talk a lot”.
She is a Grade 2 pupil at the Open Air School in Glenwood and her favourite food is potato curry and dosai.
Nikita said she has many pets – two Labradors, a cat, a Pekinese pup, an Indian Ring neck and a budgie.
Unfortunately, she had to give away her six rabbits.
“Toys are boring, while pets are fun as you can carry them or run around with them.”
Ronnie said the Labradors protect his daughter. He was hoping to get a trained Labrador guide dog for her.
Nikita will participate in the Tamil Eisteddfod provincial final this weekend at the Parasakthi Temple Hall, in Merebank.
The national finals are from July 8 to July 9 at the Arena Park Regional Hall in Chatsworth.
Nikita Hermani Govender won the prose category in the Regional Tamil Eisteddfod. She says she loves her dogs and playing the tabla.