Leg­endary ed­u­ca­tor leaves last­ing legacy

Sowetan - - OBITUARIES - Ben­son Ntlemo

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

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