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Saturday, January 22, 2022

A Brother’s Account: Late activist and Educator, Matthew Goniwe, Was An Intentional Teacher


PROFESSOR Mbulelo Terrence Goniwe, younger brother to slain political activist Matthew Goniwe, says his sibling came from a generation of educators who were dedicated, committed and intentional about teaching.

”He emerges from the crop of teachers who taught during normal working hours and ran extra classes in the evenings, he got involved in the coaching of sport – boxing and rugby – without thinking about being paid for those activities. You seem to have a feeling that teachers of today want to be paid for whatever they do, but with my brother going the extra mile, teaching was more of calling than a job.”

Mbulelo  who happens to be  an ordained Bishop, said that he too was a beneficiary of Matthew’s intentional teaching. When he was in Standard 7 (Grade 9) at Holomisa Senior Primary in Mqanduli in the Eastern Cape, his elder brother was his Maths and Science teacher.

“I was fortunate to be in his class because he truly loved teaching, we all looked forward to Science and Maths classes,” he said.

Mbulelo said that although there was a substantial age gap between them, they were close enough for him to observe and experience Matthew’s love for the subjects he taught.

“I could see how he lit up when he managed to make someone understand the content of his teaching. He had a manner of presentation that would make the learner comprehend the subject matter.”

He believes that Matthew’s educational leaning towards Maths and Science was influenced by the high-level discussions they used to have with Bishop Canon James Calata, who understood what an African child needed to create a country of substance. James Calata was grandfather to Fort Calata, another one of the Cradock Four.

What would he have done?

Mbulelo says his brother would have marvelled at the progress made by South Africa on the education front as his drive for equality was based on the poverty he saw.

“Government interventions such as school nutrition programmes, scholar transportation, technological advancements where learners have tablets, plus the abolishment of corporal punishment and the kind of free atmosphere where there is reciprocated teaching and learning, would have pleased Matthew.”

He said the content of the curriculum was far more need-based than it was in the past. However, the liberation struggle icon would have been concerned to know that 30 years into our democracy, we have not finetuned the continuity of education from primary school to university level.

“He would not have taken kindly to National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NFSAS) blunders and all the inefficiencies that impede the progress of education. He would have also taken a bold stance against what has emerged and been paraded in our media quite frequently – bullying and gangsterism in our schools. South Africa has made recognisable progress. Children of today are far wiser than their counterparts of past generations, they are smart. This is thanks to the enabling educational environment which is what Matthew was fighting for, he would have marvelled at the progress.”

Preserving his legacy

Mbulelo believes that the strides the Gauteng Department of Education has made concerning preserving and advancing the legacy of Matthew Goniwe are highly commendable.

“In advancing his legacy, it can never be in isolation from other heroines and heroes of the liberation struggle of the country, although he was picked up as an individual, that gesture in itself protects the collective of prestigious sons and daughters who, at the peak of their lives could see the glimmer of light beyond the darkness that was Apartheid.”

Mbulelo said that celebrating even one icon allows the nation to begin writing its own story, not letting another tell the story. He said that in this regard, the sincerity and the accuracy of the story and its content became genuine and not misleading.

He said the Goniwe family – siblings,  the community of Craddock, Inxuba Yethemba Local Municipality and the Eastern Cape – was highly appreciative of what the Gauteng Department of Education was doing.

“We have been part of this journey since its inception with MEC Ignatius Jacobs, we have seen it grow from strength to strength in front of our eyes. The appointment of MEC Panyaza Lesufi has added a great impetus to the contribution and organisation of the Matthew Goniwe memorial lecture, which is a central point in terms of preserving and advancing the legacy that we are all so proud of. The Matthew Goniwe School of Leadership and Governance has always been an anchor that shall outlive all of us,” he concluded.

  • * Inside Education
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