Chronicle of an era

2008-07-30 00:00

SHANTHEE Manjoo is well known in Pietermaritzburg, particularly by the many hundreds of children who first knew her as an inspirational teacher. She has lived her whole life in the city, seeing it grow and change — with the most major change coming in 1994 when she and many other South Africans — the vast majority of the country’s population — could, for the first time, vote for the government of their choice.

Manjoo creates a picture of the society in which she grew up and later raised her own family. When she left school, her options were limited — partly by the times and partly by what her family could afford. So teaching was the only career open to her and she seized the opportunities it gave. Both in the book, and when she talks about her working life, it is obvious that the children who went through her hands were enormously important to her. Her belief that children will only respect their teachers if the teachers respect them shines through. “Teachers have a great influence on children — you have to be so careful how you speak to them,” she says.

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