Pupil draws with Zuma in chess match despite three long taxi trips

2015-12-23 11:53
President Jacob Zuma goes head to head against Wildfred Gwabeni in a game of chess during the Jacob Zuma chess tournament.

President Jacob Zuma goes head to head against Wildfred Gwabeni in a game of chess during the Jacob Zuma chess tournament. (Supplied)

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Pietermaritzburg - Wilfred Gwabeni (20) is still pinching himself after trading chess moves with President Jacob Zuma.

Gwabeni, who is visually impaired, boarded three taxis from Mabopane to Nkandla to flaunt his skills at the Jacob G. Zuma Chess Tournament.

“I had first to take a taxi from Mabopane to Pretoria, then another from Pretoria to Johannesburg and lastly from Johannesburg to Nkandla.

“We left home at 2 pm and by the time we got to Nkandla it was already 7 am,” said the 20-year-old Gwabeni.

The overnight trip cost Gwabeni more than R600, but he said it was worth the expense and trouble.

“I got to meet the president and shake his hand. I still cannot believe that I shook his hand.

“My only regret is that I did not ask for his contact number. I should have,” he said.

Gwabeni said he was proud that he was able to “hold his own” against the president at the chess board.

“We drew, but only because I was sleepy and tired,” he said.

As Gwabeni awaits his matric results, he was pleased to receive news that he will be considered for a bursary by the Jacob Zuma Foundation should he pass his matric.

“I want to do a BCom Economics after matric. It is a great relief to know that my tertiary funds would be taken care of, provided that I pass my matric,” he said.

After the tournament, Zuma offered to buy aeroplane tickets for Gwabeni and his father who had travelled with him, to fly back to Pretoria.

“It was the first time I have boarded an aeroplane. I am a celebrity in my ’hood. Not many people get the opportunity to board an aeroplane there,” he said.

Zuma said the game of chess is good for the development of the mind as it encourages critical and tactical thinking and problem solving skills.

“I have been informed by the Minister of Basic Education that they are considering the possibility of integrating chess into the school curriculum, instead of it just being one of the sporting codes played at school. There is evidence that in schools where chess is played academic performance improves,” said Zuma.

The president hosts the chess tournament on an annual basis. It is contested mostly by children from the 11 districts in the province.

• sabelo.nsele@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  chess  |  zuma

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