A tribute to a great teacher

2015-06-11 06:01

Sisa Qwesha with an unidentified colleague

Sisa Qwesha with an unidentified colleague

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The year was 2001. March was the month.

For, that was the first time I had met up-close with Mr Sisa Qwesha during my days at Vukani Primary School in Lower Crossroads.

My former beloved teacher passed away last Sunday, having been ill for some time. I could not believe the news when it reached me.

On that day in March, having just been called outside of class by three of my Grade 6 teachers, to be informed: “You had been promoted to the next grade, and that you must take your chair to the big Grade 7 classroom downstairs.”

Oh, the disbelief and excitement! It all seemed short-lived though, for just as I knocked on the door of grade 7, there was no response.

My nerves were frayed, but I soon calmed upon realising that it was in the middle of a lesson.

Mr Qwesha couldn’t hear my knocks!

I then just opened the door, and, not wanting to be the centre of attention, as it were, I tiptoed and went on to squeeze myself between two learners who were sitting in the desk closest to the entrance.

No one else even noticed my ‘low-key’ arrival, save for the two ‘squeezes’, who had shock and confusion registered on their facades.

After a while, and recognising my presence, Mr Qwesha made a casual introduction to the class.

“Oh, by the way, this is Lunga Adam, your new classmate.” What cheek! I had thought such occasions warranted an ovation. Or some such display of great feat.

But the journey during the course of that year was wonderful. Mr Qwesha was a likeable fellow, whose personality and warmth of character endeared him to learners and colleagues alike.

Back then, you were careful with your gags, in case the ubiquitous cane got the better of you.

There was aptly named Mr Mnqayi, aka Sir Knobkerrie, who would hand you a good one just for staring at him.

In the company of Mr Qwesha, we all felt some kind of freedom. He taught us Technology and Life Orientation, and was passionate about the teaching profession. Despite being vertically challenged, he took it all in his stride. I am not sure if it was because of the rigours of being a Grade 7 teacher or whether it was in his nature, but he was relentless in his supply of schoolwork.

My fondest memory is of him walking into class with a pile of paperwork.

‘Meneer’ had a loud but soft voice and was a straight talker. When it came to telling you off, he was masterful, excuse the pun.

Like most of the teachers at the school, he had a liking to me.

Towards the end of that year when we were preparing for our farewell function, he called me aside and asked me to make the valedictory speech.

Being a shy person, I thought that was asking much from me.

The farewell was held at the Gardens in Claremont.

I felt very nervous and jittery. At some point I decided there was no way to handle stage fright.

Sad to say that during the meal he came over to my table and whispered in my ear: “The stage is set, go and give that speech.” I mumbled an excuse and failed all and sundry in one instant.

With the benefit of hindsight and a more mature outlook on life, I must say I regret making that decision and had been silently hoping that one day, in some way, I was going to make up for it. But death had other ideas. It’s a sad day.

His long-time colleague Nikki Manikivana shared thus: He was a gentleman and fun to work with although he was very serious about his work. When he spoke you couldn’t help but laugh as he had a great sense of humour.

I liked it when he scolded his learners when they hadn’t done their projects or failed his tests, telling them, “Ingqondo zenu nina zigcwele njee i Grandpa!”

He would be angry but you could not miss the love and concern for the future of the learners. He would spend time trying drum in them the consequences of slovenliness. Sadly, you would also hear that he had collapsed due to his epilepsy fits.

You will always be missed Bibo, Stakavana, Msawawa


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