Educator was a rare gem

2016-08-04 06:00

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Former Rand Daily Mail journalist Benjamin Progrund, writing a biography of the late founding president of the PAC, Mangaliso Sobukwe, titled his book “How Can Man Die Better”.

As we went to the polls yesterday, I remembered that it marked the 10th anniversary of the passing of one of my best teachers ever, Solomon Makosana.

Makosana made an enormous contribution in the betterment of the African child during the dark days of Apartheid.

The aim of the evil apartheid system was also to prepare the African child for a slave mentallity.

But it took the likes of Makosana to make sure the situation was turned around.

Teachers did not earn a lot in the past. At Intshinga Higher Primary School, where Makosana taught, it was only the principal who had a car.

I liked Makosana’s motto: “Ndiyasithand’isidenge”.

He was referring to those learners who struggled to grasp lessons, for he used their situation to test how effective he was as a teacher. He would explain something repeatedly until the “stupid” understood.

He was the kind of teacher who would surprise learners, teaching every subject from Social Studies to Mathematics.

He was a Std 6 (Grade 8) educator but assisted at Std 5 (Grade 7).

Though morning classes were not compulsory, he would conduct them for even a grade he didn’t teach. That was the first and last time I came across that kind of a teacher.

He was unique.

He also punished those who failed his tests or classwork. He also made a policy for us to make a contribution towards buying a newspaper every morning, not for him but for headlines to be put on the notice board.

A friend Luvuyo “Pa” Mciteka, was the one tasked with the noticeboard duty.

Being fluent in Afrikaans is as advantage in the Western Cape, especially in many government departments.

At work I don’t have a problem of communicating with colleagues and researchers in Afrikaans.

History also helps in my writing as a freelancer. This is all due to Makosana’s legacy.

He deserves acknowledgement, either naming a school or street in his honour.

At school, everything was forced down on us whether one was interested or not.

However, Makosana announced that learners who didn’t want to be in the school choir must paint the school walls.

That was how some of us learnt to paint. Those who joined the choir represented the school in music competitions.

Today I am able to paint my whole house without hiring a help. The foundation of History he nurtured us with is responsible for the freelance writer I am today.

And there are many teachers, lawyers, and nurses he produced. My sister-in-law Nomyoli Njoli, also a former pupil, reminisced about Makosana: “Nou sal die poppe dans”.

It is amazing that he would say those words while carrying a cane to punish learners. Yet M/s Njoli remembered Makosana smiling as he uttered those words.

I don’t remember any of his former learners showing bitterness or resentfulness whenever his name is mentioned.

Many of us learners still remember him with fondness.

BoNdungwane, Diya, Bhejula, Qhwesha, Ndarhala nomKhonde, oNjilo nimandelwe ngamas’enkomo nade nalibala.

BoDiya nani mam’ekhaya mam’uNosakhele ntombi yakwaGcina kaloku ibiyi nkomo yenqoma.

Nithen’ingathi nilibel’ukub’inkomo yenqoma yintsengw’ebheka? Imkil’intw’ibithi xa inyathela kutsho kubonakal’ imizila.

Umkile unyana, ubhuti, umalume, utitshala, umcebisi, ingqondi, utata, umyeni, unyana wesizwe.

Singangamboni nje ngawenyam’amehlo, kodwa uhleli kwawe ngqondo nasezintliziyweni! Mzantsi nawe Afrika ngokubanzi ulahlekelwe nangon’ungaqondi nje!

He was not popular more than he was great. This perverted world we are living in is full of populists than great people.

Celebrities and divas are popular but how constructive and exemplary are they in society? What is their contribution if not destruction of our society.

His greatness manifested itself in his production: teachers, nurses, psychologists, lawyers, and other academics. These are kind of teachers who we looked upon and led us to where we are today.

His legacy lives on. I have published 25 articles in different publications, a poem and a book review under my name. Unfortunately he passed on a year after I promised him a visit.

. Thembile Ndabeni is a freelance writer.

He holds a Masters Degree in politics and economy from NMMU.

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