Legendary educator leaves lasting legacy
LEGENDARY educator Joel Ndengeza Mashaba, who has died at the age of 97, has left a legacy that will ensure his memory lives on.
Mashaba, who was a pioneer educator in Malamulele, was also a church leader, choral music composer and politician.
He died peacefully at home on Sunday after a long illness.
The JW Mashaba Foundation has been set up in his name to further his passion to finance the education of destitute children.
Mashaba was born in Xidzivani in the Valdesia area, near the Levubu River in Limpopo. His family moved to Hasani, then called Dzivi, before moving to Mulamula and finally settled at Tlangelani, now called Mdabula.
It is believed his true birth date was not established, but he was born somewhere between 1915 and 1917 during the First World War. When he began school the teacher registered his birth date as July 1 1918.
Mashaba started school in 1929 at Tlangelani. In 1930 his family moved to Mulamula, a nearby village where he developed a warm relationship with the Tshisevhe family.
He later dropped out of school as his family did not have money to buy him books and was employed by the Miyeni family as a herd boy to look after the livestock.
But after learning that he had dropped out of school, his cousin, the legendary Daniel Cornelius Marivate, who was a well-known choral musician and the author of the first Xitsonga novel,
Xisomisani, came to his rescue and took him to Valdesia in Makhado, where he was sent back to school.
He completed his Standard 6 (now Grade 8) while staying with the Marivate family, whose close association with the Swiss missionaries ensured the family had books to give to Mashaba.
As the best pupil in Standard 6, he was rewarded with a Bible.
His elder brother Thomas tried to recruit him to work as a labourer in Pretoria.
While walking to Louis Trichardt to catch a train to Pretoria, his destiny was sealed when he met the late John Shimati on the way. Shimati, a teacher dressed in long pants and a white shirt and riding a bicycle, was on his way to Albasini Dam to fish.
He convinced Mashaba to join the teaching profession.
Mashaba ’ s education to become a teacher was again facilitated by Swiss missionaries.
He later graduated as a teacher with his friend, the late Gazankulu homeland leader Professor Hudson Ntsanwisi.
He taught and headed various schools for many years and won awards as a choir conductor.
He also composed songs, some of which were recorded by the SABC.
Mashaba also dabbled in homeland politics in 1984 when he followed Prof Ntsanwisi and became an MP in the Gazankulu legislature.
A lifelong member of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, he was its treasurer in Tlangelani for a long time. He was also an astute entrepreneur who owned several shops.
Mashaba funded the education of several gifted children from poor backgrounds and started the JW Mashaba Foundation to raise bursaries and to establish libraries and computer labs in village schools.
Mashaba is survived by six of his eight children.
He will be laid to rest tomorrow at Tlangelani.
PIONEER: Joel Mashaba