Ntshantsha remembered as best of all

2017-06-22 06:01
Ntshantsha Mzimasi Mpakati

Ntshantsha Mzimasi Mpakati

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Putting pen to paper can be a joy for a writer, but can also turn to pain when the subject at hand is a tragedy; death.

Last week, I received with shock and much disbelief the news of the passing on of my former primary school teacher, dear Ma’am Mzimasi Mpakati, who answered to ‘Ntshantsha’ as a term of endearment.

My heart goes out to all the teachers and the entire family of Vukani Primary School in Lower Crossroads, for it was only two years ago that fate dealt them a heavy blow with the demise of Mr Sisa Qwesha. It never rains but pours, it seems.

Seeking a cathartic moment for all this pain, I revisited old conversations. One went thus: “E Vukani kaloku there was and will be only 1 Lunga Adam, abangoku abantwana bayonqena they r gifted though but irresponsible. U know I am so proud of u every time I read your column.”

Come to think of it, it is my considered opinion that primary school teachers have the toughest and most thankless of jobs.

They are entrusted with the unenviable task of moulding young boys and girls into lads and lasses able make logical decisions and tackle high school life with all the confidence in the world.

When some start their school life, they are barely able to tie their shoelaces or even wipe their noses, but inside the primary school gates, they find caring, patient, loving yet firm ‘parents away from parents’.

Not to mention that among these young learners are those who come from broken homes and have to be taught respect and good behaviour.

Another point worth noting, though, is that these teachers face battles of their own.

These range from a lack of recognition by the authorities, divisions among the teachers themselves, lack of infrastructure (especially for township schools), low pay, vandalism, arson and incessant burglaries.

Some even choose to go for ‘greener pastures’ or quit the profession altogether.

Having had the honour of being taught by her, from when we just ushered in the new millennium, I can assert without any fear that Ma’am Mpakati ticked all the right boxes.

She had outstanding patience towards her learners.

Even laggards would attest. Here was a teacher and a mother figure who had the best interests of her learners at heart and wanted to see them progressing, unlike those who would throw the book at you or, even worse, throw you out of class at the slightest provocation. It always frustrated her, though, to see learners who simply refused to drink from her well of knowledge and, at times, she would go as far as to invite me to “come and talk some sense into them.

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