Thank you, ‘Old Eyes’
The second in #Thedebate2019 series took the project to a new level. Health workers, officials, youth and NGOS engaged in frank discussion – both during the debate in BB Zondani Hall, and the round-table beforehand.
Dr Thobile Mbengashe took time to drive all the way from East London for the sessions which were small enough to allow for quality conversations about the challenges facing young people when it comes to their well-being in our town. That the Province’s most senior official in the Health Department sees it as important to engage with the NGOS and young people of Makhanda is encouraging.
One August afternoon in 2015, a Grocott’s Mail reader knocked on the editor’s door. She was furious. So furious that she’d walked and used taxis to travel the 10km from her Newtown, Fingo Village home, to bring a letter. Her letter challenged the way that her municipality was communicating with her – or not. Makana responded and apologised. Mangesi had that way about her: she spoke and people listened.
And it wasn’t just that she’d taught many of the people in this town. It was that she didn’t waste words on rhetoric – she said things the way they were.
Not that she wasn’t also a poet – remember her piece, early on in the columns, ‘Newtown… Old Eyes’, called ‘My carnations’?
She was also something of a prophet – although one can almost hear her saying, “Oh no, that’s nonsense!”
In a piece called ‘Sending Parliament back to school,’ published in September 2015 she wrote, “I listened with appreciation as the Deputy President, Dr Cyril Ramaphosa, read out a statement, laying out strategies for the eradication of all types of corruption, and I excitedly remarked “Ramaphosa is long overdue. I think he strikes the balance that ANC has been lacking. This is just an old lady’s opinion.” She was also very funny. “Thought for the day: Nothing makes a woman feel older than meeting a bald-headed man who was two standards behind her at school.”
On 13 November 2015 we published this piece written by Olive Ngesi: “The city council’s name is not what matters. What they must do is convince the community – not by words and empty promises, but by a complete change of character.
“They are aware of all that has brought them to such disrepute. They must say what they are going to do that hasn’t been done before, as well as tell us what they’re not going to do that has been done before and shouldn’t have been… This is a community in great pain…”
Rest in peace, ‘Old Eyes’ and thank you for your wisdom.