Matric first had to learn to speak Afrikaans


Kagiso Kubheka experienced a unique challenge in high school. He got a rugby scholarship at an Afrikaans school, but could not speak a word of Afrikaans.

Five years later, with many tears, sweat and a few times of almost giving up, he passed matric – in Afrikaans! – passed. He also chose to write the exam in Afrikaans, even though he later had the option of going to school in English.

“It wasn’t porridge and meat. I’m very excited that I’m finally done with school.”

Meanwhile, he fell in love with Afrikaans and even likes to listen to Afrikaans music. His favorite song is “Visgat” by the group Frikkie en die Dolfyne.

Kagiso is originally from Vosloorus in Boksburg and his mother tongue is Zulu. He can also speak Sotho and Xhosa, but completed his primary school career in English. In 2018 he received a scholarship at HTS Middelburg. “I was happy and looked forward to it, but I didn’t know the school was only Afrikaans. I was sad when I heard the news, but I said to myself, ‘the Lord put me in this school for a reason’. ”

The first five months he chewed hard bones. “I couldn’t understand a word. All my subjects were in Afrikaans.” Kagiso had a hard time getting up every morning when he had to go to school.

“The only thing that kept me going was the rugby at school.” In gr. 8 he is for the o. 14A team selected. “However, it was also the first time in my life that I failed a term, and on top of that I failed four subjects.”

For Kagiso it was a tragic experience. “That night I called my mother and told her that I wanted to move schools.” However, his mother convinced him otherwise. “I thank my mother, because she continued to believe in me.”

He says teachers from HTS Middelburg supported him in his endeavor to learn the language. “One teacher told me, when people talk, I just have to listen. Even if I don’t understand the words, I have to listen to how the people pronounce the words.”

In 2020, Kagiso after gr. 9 promote. The same year, the rugby scholarship he had was cut due to Covid-19. “I was devastated. However, one of the coaches helped raise funds so that I could continue to go to school and stay in the hostel. I will always respect and appreciate him for what he did for me.”

In 2021 he was offered a scholarship at Menlopark High School in Pretoria and Kagiso matriculated at this school last year. He was offered a place in an English school, but wanted to finish school in Afrikaans.

“I learned a lot at Menlopark and made many friends who feel like family. I will always be grateful to this phenomenal school that offered me an opportunity.”

Kagiso is not yet sure what or where he wants to study, but dreams of one day playing for the Blitzbokke.

And Afrikaans? “I would like to continue speaking Afrikaans, because it is very important to be able to speak many languages. Especially in a country like South Africa.” One of his goals is also to learn to speak all the official languages ​​of the country.