President Jacob Zuma opens new school in Mvezo

AUGUST 26, 2015

There was excitement in the tiny Village of Mvezo, in the Transkei, when President Jacob Zuma opened the newly built Makgatho Lewanika Mandela Junior Primary School, on Tuesday.

The event signalled a new beginning for the village’s children who until now had to travel long distances to access proper schools. The school, named after the late President Nelson Mandela’s son Makgatho, was built at a cost of R30 million, donated by a Chinese businessman.

More than 400 pupils will now have access to a new computer centre fitted with 42 computers, a library, a laboratory, administration block and a kitchen.

President Zuma, who earlier arrived in a military helicopter, told the hundreds of people seated inside a white marquee that the new school will ensure that the children of Mvezo never again “shall become hewers of wood and drawers of water”.

“We expect the next generation of Mvezo children to take up their rightful place in commerce, academia, leadership and the advancement of human rights and dignity,” he said.

“We are indeed honoured to walk in the shadow of a giant that was Madiba. We owe to him and his generation an immense debt of gratitude for sacrificing life and limb in pursuance of our liberty.”

President Zuma reminded the gathering that more than anything Madiba loved children and valued education.

“It is therefore a fitting tribute that today we officially open a state-of-the-art facility named in honour of the greatest sons of our liberation struggle. Today’s official opening occurs when the new South Africa has come of age as we have already celebrated our 21st anniversary of the 1994 democratic breakthrough,” he said.

He said government, through the Accelerated School Infrastructure Development Initiative (Asidi) has delivered over 370 new schools replacing mud schools and other unsuitable structures around the country.

The school in Mvezo was formed by the merging of the Nkwenkwezi primary and Mvezo Junior Primary Schools. Among those who attended the official opening on Tuesday included Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, Miss World Rolene Strauss, diplomats and representatives of the Eastern Cape provincial government, led by Premier Phumulo Masualle.

Guests were entertained by a choir from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University as well as local traditional dancers.

Local chief Inkosi Zwelivelile Mandela said the school was a tribute to Mandela, whose wish was for a modern school to be built in Mvezo. The late Mandela was born in Mvezo and spent part of his childhood in the small village surrounded by hills and rivers.  

“My grandfather said let us use education to change the world and this is what we are doing here today. Education is still the only weapon we can use to change the world for the better,” the chief said.

He thanked donors, government departments and state-owned entities who had contributed to the development of the school. –