Past pupils give Manenberg a blast from the past

MOGAMAT TOFFAR

Manenberg High took a nostalgic trip down memory lane when the pioneers of the school – its first pupils – joined in its 40th anniversary celebration.

Five of the former pupils, who started their schooling back in 1976 – a year which will always be remembered in South African history as the year of the student uprisings – delivered powerful motivational speeches.

The message which filtered through was that to be successful, one needs to be committed to one’s school work and never to give up.

Muavia Ganief, a former pupil who is now a successful building contractor, said: “To be successful you’ll have to work very hard to achieve your goals. Nothing comes easy – you have to work hard to reach the top. You can be a great achiever, but to have good character is more important. Demand respect by being respectful.”

According to another former pupil, Keith Dumas, his class of 1976 had many difficulties apart from school work to contend with.

“You have all the opportunities now, so make the most of your studies,” Mr Dumas said.

Mr Dumas was the leading figure at the school during apartheid and inspired many pupils to take up the fight against “gutter education”.

It was also a momentous occasion as one of the stalwart teachers, Johan Geduldt celebrated his 73rd birthday the next day. Mr Geduldt has shaped many pupils from Manenberg with his exciting physical science classes.

He retired and became a circuit inspector, but is now back as a teacher. He was the second principal at the school after well-known teacher, Lennie Janari, retired.

It was the late Mr Janari who put Manenberg High on the map, making sure that the first matric class of 1979 had a 100 percent pass rate. All those pupils, together with the 1980 matriculants, have gone on to become successful individuals many of whom have now embarked on an alumni programme to help elevate the school in various disciplines.

The school’s top matriculant, Anushqah van der Ventel, obtained six distinctions and will be studying journalism at Rhodes University.

She is destined to become the school’s second journalist – after me, who worked for Cape Community Newspapers in the 1980s and 1990s.

It was I who persuaded Mr Janari to get Manenberg to compete in the inter-schools athletics.

I remember in our debut year in 1978 we won the E-Section of the Western Province School Sports Union’s inter-schools athletics meeting at the Athlone Stadium. We beat the more established schools like Athlone High, Salt River, Modderdam and Steenberg. Along with Chris Wyngaardt, Xavier Lewis, Charles Sprinkle, Fred Grovers and many others, we set the athletics scene alight in those years.

Manenberg High also excelled at sports such as cricket, rugby, soccer, netball and athletics, and the school has produced many Western Province (WP) athletes of note.

Manenberg High’s cricket and rugby teams were among the top teams on the Cape Flats in its heydays.

Fuad Benjamin’s cricket team, with fierce bowlers like the late Antonio October, Raymond Adams and Eugene Adams, were feared throughout the Western Province, particularly after they bowled out the entire Silverstream team for a paltry 13 runs. Mr Benjamin was an unplayable leg-spinner and became a regular in the WP schools and club sides.

Layla Barron, who initiated the idea of the alumni project, is one of the popular businesswomen hailing from Manenberg High. She runs the successful Barron’s Estate in Philippi.

* Mogamat Toffar is a past pupil of Manenberg High and a former Athlone News reporter.