UDF activist Peter Present’s book Quiet Activists selected to launch the reading campaign
The Village Voice
“We are gathered here today as educationists. It is also with the assistance of a great educationist, Comrade Curtis Nkondo that we managed to leave the country safely. He himself was an avid reader .I have fond memories of driving him to bookshops in Johannesburg.”
These are the words of Peter Present, a UDF activist who in 1985 left the country to join the then banned ANC and its military wing Umkhonto weSizwe.
His book was selected to launch the reading campaign in Limpopo launched by Limpopo Education MEC Mavhungu Lerule Ramakhanya in conjunction with the department of sports arts and culture and the National Education Collaboration Trust.
The book, Quiet Activists, details how as a 22 year old young man, he left the country to train as a soldier of Umkhonto weSizwe so he would come and fight the oppressors.
He wrote the book over a six year period.
Present made an outstanding presentation of his book at the launch of the reading campaign by the National Education Collaboration Trust in conjunction with the Limpopo departments of sports arts and culture as well as the department of education.
The event held at Siyandhani Primary school was graced by the attendance of the local Hosi Siyandhani, community leaders, education department officials, community members and learners from three primary schools.
Present said he joined the struggle for freedom but now the struggle for social justice continues.
He says the late Nkondo contributed significantly to his life
“He is the one who also advised me to formally marry my wife Bibi at the young age so it would assist us not to be separated while in exile, “he said.
When they left, Present seemed to have a bright future beckoning as he had just qualified as an Engineering Draughtsman while his wife had completed her first year as a student teacher.
In joining the reading campaign as started by NECT,
Present says: “It is through our oral and written stories that we keep alive the memories of those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.”
Nkondo was the son of Mr Ephraim Nkondo, who was a school principal at Pfukani (now Vuwani).
He was a well-known community leader during the struggle against apartheid.
He was one of the founder deputy presidents of the United Democratic Front, together with the late Oscar Mpetha and Mrs Albertina Sisulu, wife of the late Walter Sisulu.
He led the formation of the National Education Union of South Africa that later merged with other progressive formations to form the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu).
He also became South Africa’s High Commissioner to Namibia and died on December 3, 2009.
A school in Soweto, Curtis Nkondo School of Specialisation was named after him.
Dr Godwin Khosa, the CEO of the National Education Collaboration Trust said the reading campaign started when President Cyril Ramaphosa called for it.
Dr Khosa requested two MEC’s Nakedi Kekana of the Limpopo arts and culture and Mavhungu Leruli Ramakhanya to work together with the NECT to improve the culture of reading.
He said he was happy with the efforts of learners from three schools in Giyani, namely Fuyatha, Risenga and Siyandhani primary schools who did the reading at the event.
Dr Khosa said statistics show that 51% of girls perform better than boys.
He also says statistics also shows that learners in minority languages such as Tshivenda and Xitsonga are performing more poorly that those doing majority languages.
“This means we do not need to concentrate merely on donating shoes to schools but books as well, “said Dr Khosa.
He challenges MEC Nakedi and Mavhungu Ramakhanya to join the NECT’s campaign of reading one book per month.
MEC Nakedi urged people to visit libraries provided to communities by her department as the department’s contribution to reading and learning.
MEC Ramakhanya said education was a societal issue and parents must also join in the reading campaign so they would motivate their children.
Councilor Cedrick Baloyi, who represented Greater Giyani Local Municipality mayor Thandi Zitha, thanked MEC Ramakhanya for bringing the event to Giyani.
He said the Greater Giyani Local Municipality supported the campaign and also appreciated the role played by NECT in the municipality forum area.
Hosi Siyandhani appreciated the event and sat throughout the proceedings.