Sat Oct 22 01:47:55 SAST 2016

Lesego's triumph over adversity is a miracle

By unknown | Dec 11, 2006 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

The excitement of being the only rose among thorns has became so intoxicating to young Lesego Pearl Hugo that she even lost her school report.

The excitement of being the only rose among thorns has became so intoxicating to young Lesego Pearl Hugo that she even lost her school report.

She is the only pupil in the entire school who passed.

But on the third day, a reality check hit home and she admitted that it was a miracle that she had passed.

"Teachers keep changing and each one came with different syllabuses. The goal posts kept changing. I honestly don't know how I passed."

She said writing the final year exams was like shooting in the dark and hoping to hit the mark.

"We wrote about things that no one taught us."

In a village where every house has a sad tale of poverty and hopelessness, Lesego was one of the lucky few whose family managed to keep her at school.

Her story of triumph over adversity should make the entire nation sing and dance.

Her mother eloped with a lover about ten years ago, leaving her alone with her father. She has never heard of her mother since she left. Five months after her mother left, her father, Arend Hugo, a member of the South African Defence Force, died in a horrific road accident.

Her aged grandmother, Maria Kgatlane, single-handedly raised her, and countless cousins and other relatives.

The 72-year-old said: "I battle to put food on the table, let alone send my grandchildren to school. But I want them to have an education and live a better life than I do."

Her pension money does not stretch far. To make ends meet, she regularly borrows from local money lenders. The loans carry a hefty interest. When her grant comes and after she has paid her debt, there is not much left.

Everything is prohibitively expensive in this far-flung North West village.

Kgatlane said: "Sometimes you only have R100 left to buy food, but you have to spend R66 for a return trip by bus to Vryburg where prices are reasonable. You end up spending all your money on transport."

She is exuberantly proud of her little girl, Lesego, and vows that she will do whatever it takes to see her at least completing her matric.

This heroine, born a Hugo, is a descendent of the first white person to settle in these parts at the turn of the last century. She married a Motswana farmer who died many years ago.

Kgatlane's house, with fading paint and worn-out furniture, is a testimony that this used to be a house of plenty.

There are rusted cars, harvesting machines and industrial generators that have long since run out of petrol in the yard.

Kgatlane said that in the old days the rains were plentiful, they had cattle and goats and their lands yielded good crops. But now the Namib Desert is fast encroaching, dust is the new rain and the stark reality of climate change are all the more visible in this arid place of dashed hopes.

She said she wishes that she was younger because then, she used to knit tafeldoeke (tablecloths) for a living.

The old eyes are now watery and her chipped hands too worn to handle a knitting needle.

But she said her Lesego will complete her studies, comes hell or high water.


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