After 33 years of teaching, 72-year-old Angie Africa from Kewtown has retired as the principal of Genesis Educare Centre in Athlone.
Aunty Angie, as everyone calls her, started her teaching career in 1983 when she worked at a home educare at Grassroots Educare.
There she looked after six babies and was in charge of six homes altogether, based in Bridgetown, Silvertown, and Parktown.
In 1989 most of the children’s families moved out of the area and the educare then moved to its current premises next door to Grassroots in Klipfontein Road.
“Working at the home educare for six years people started moving out of Silvertown and Bridgetown into Mitchell’s Plain so their children went with them. We also decided to moved into this premises and only accommodated three-year-olds so we didn’t work with babies anymore. About a year later, we decided to take on babies from one-and-a-half upwards and that is how the centre grew into about 80 children,” said Aunty Angie.
When asked what her motivation was for her career choice, she said she always loved being with the children because they are the ones who make your day.
“The children make your day, no matter how you came from home, they make your day. Unlike adults, if we have a fall-out then tomorrow we don’t look at each other, children are not like that. They are free, you do get the little naughty ones but you must just know how to work with them.”
Aunty Angie who is fluent in Xhosa, explained that some of the challenges included the language barrier among the staff and the Xhosa-speaking children. Because of her interest in the language, she read books to help her learn Xhosa until she could speak it fluently.
“It helped quite a lot when communicating with the children,” she said.
When asked what it was like teaching back then, she said there was a lot of discipline among the children. She would sit down with the children who displayed signs of neglect and spoke with the parents about it.
“Many of the children are in their deep twenties already. When I get them along the way they will say ‘thank you teacher Angie for what you’ve done’. The staff of those years were very joyful.
“We all had our groups and I was always the one to come up with a joke. When we went on outings we really enjoyed it, we were so happy and the children were joyful, they were always happy.”
Linora Naudt, who has been working at Genesis Educare for 10 years, will now be the new head teacher. Having spent years working together, Ms Naudt and Aunty Angie have formed a close bond.
“I am going to miss her because we were very close. Especially in the morning when I come in she’ll be the first one I will see and greet. We use to go on camps together, spent weekends together. She is a mother to me since I lost my mother; she would talk about her children and I would talk about mine,” said Ms Naudt.
She added that the role as the new head teacher hasn’t sunk in yet. She also said it will be challenging especially with Aunty Angie not there to guide her.
“I would like to tell her that I am going to miss her and I love her and she must enjoy her retirement.”
Administrator, Heather Livesey said Aunty Angie has become like a mother and grandmother to her.
“She is very special. When she’s here you just feel safe because there’s this matriarch figure. It is quite sad but I also know that we have to release Aunty Angie to live the rest of her life and just be focusing on herself,” said Ms Livesey.
She added that the one thing that she will miss about Aunty Angie is the storytelling.
“She just comes into my office and tells me stories about yesteryear. She loved doing that, she is a real storyteller and goes into detail about every little story.
“I will miss her chatterbox spirit. I want her to know that I wish her God’s very best into her retirement years, and all that she has invested into the lives of little ones, the love, kindness and support that she carries with her will actually be hers double filled, and she should enjoy her retirement and take good care of herself because she deserves it,” she said.
Aunty Angie said she will now be enjoying her retirement by travelling to visit family that she hasn’t seen in many years.
“I would like to first go to all my cousins in East London and then on a boat trip,” she said.
“I want to tell the educare centre to go on with the good work. They must go on loving the children and being there for them and their families. They must go on doing the work of the Lord.”