Documenting Nonhlanhla Khuzwayo (a retired teacher)
A review by Thobeka Bhengu
Photos by Terra Dick
Plan for the day 11:00-5pm Shooting at Durban North
Interview Nonhlanhla Khuzwayo at her home Interview her daughter (Baphile Khuzwayo)
Establishing shots & Cutaways of Gugulethu Primary School
The team documented Mam Nonhlanhla Khuzwayo at her home in Durban North. Mam Nonhlanhla is a retired teacher, who dedicated 28 years teaching primary school learners. Khuzwayo welcomed us with open arms at her home. She looked polished as if she was about to leave her house for an important meeting. We met her niece Buyile who spent the rest of the day with us and seemed to enjoy having us around.
The team started by interviewing Baphile Khuzwayo, Mam Khuzwayo’s daughter. She described her mother as loving and disciplined at home and as a teacher.
Baphile described her mother in two words, as a powerful and a strong woman. On her mother as an educator, she described her as someone who gives a pupil their autonomy and allows learners to interpret the work or text in their own way. On the state of schools and the important values that would assist in the education system Baphile said, “I think parents give too much responsibility to the teachers. Teaching starts at home. Discipline starts at home.”
Nonhlanhla Khuzwayo was born in Umlazi, Durban and lost her parents when she was at college. She started teaching from 1983 at Nombika Primary School (Ndwedwe), Myeka Primary School (Ndwedwe) and Tholamandla Primary School (KwaMashu) temporarily and was hired as a full-time teacher at Siphosethu Primary School (Ntuzuma), Phuthumani Primary School (KwaMashu), Dukemini Primary School (KwaMashu) and finally landed at Gugulethu Primary School in the year 2000 where she taught for 15 years. Boasting 28 years of teaching, Khuzwayo retired in 2015. Leaving her job was hard for her because of the love for her work and young people. Khuzwayo raised her children on her own after her divorce in 1991. This is when she realized she had to work harder, thus besides teaching, she also sold goods so as to earn more money to take care of her children. Mam Khuzwayo spoke of her financial struggles, hardships after selling her home and a number of challenges that she was able to overcome. Khuzwayo currently leaves in a safe, tranquil and suburban neighbourhood in Durban.
Some of the values that Khuzwayo learned along the way was respect for others, your superiors, be dedicated to your work and be able to take instructions as provided. She also learned to fix her mistakes and not be defensive when she has made a mistake. She further highlighted the role of a teacher in school and how teachers have to assume multiple roles in the classroom and the difficulty of executing all these roles at once. On celebrating 25 years of democracy and looking at the challenges and achievements in the 25 years Khuzwayo shared how “a lot has changed in the education system for the better including the end of corporal punishment, respect of the rights of others regardless of their age and how circumstances at home and at school can be the cause of bad behaviours.” She spoke about teenage pregnancy as a major challenge, drug abuse, kids experimenting with sex at an early age and unsafe abortions due to fear of being judged. She also addressed the issue of acceptance of LGBTI+ children and how parents need to accept their children instead of disowning their LGBTI+ children.
Khuzwayo has plans to travel, open a space to share experiences amongst the elderly and young people. As we wrapped up our day with Mam Khuzwayo, we agreed to meet again the following day at Gugulethu Primary School, to interview her former colleagues and students.