Little did I realise that someday, my dream of being in the presence of our beloved father of the nation, the late Tata Madiba, would become a reality not only for myself but also for ten Everest Primary drug wise marshall pupils.
This once in a lifetime opportunity came when my former school, was invited to the official inauguration of the Chatsworth Youth Centre in 2003. Madiba officially opened the centre in memory of the 13 young children who lost their lives in the Throb Nightclub tragedy in 2000.
He played a major role in finding sponsors for the centre, which to this day, serves as a beacon of hope for many youngsters in the community. During his address, he said that we need to turn tragedy into triumph and that we must build hope from adversity. I was touched by these profound and comforting words. He then lovingly embraced the grieving parents. I watched in wonder at this simple yet magnanimous act of care from an iconic statesman who is honoured in countless ways around the world.
As a retired teacher, I take a keen interest in history and political issues in our country. So for me, this moment was significant for many reasons. I felt humble to be in the presence of a world icon. My former pupils on the other hand could not fully grasp my feelings. Upon our return to school, I provided feedback to the rest of the class on our experience.
Unknown to me, the 10 pupils planned to do research, make posters and address the assembly the next day. I was overwhelmed as the ‘Madiba magic’ had worked. As I fondly remember Tata Madiba, I also remember the 13 victims who lost their lives in the tragedy. As the community of Chatsworth continues to mourn the loss of the youngsters 17 years later, I wish to say that we will always remember the victims in our hearts.