living legacy of ubuntu

Aged 102, Masenyeki Priscilla Mokone was a living legacy for all people to emulate.

Aged 102, Masenyeki Priscilla Mokone was a living legacy for all people to emulate.

Born into the Nkomo family in Ventersdorp, North West, on April 1 1906, she died at Lichtenburg Hospital on May 10.

She served society in different parts of the country as educator, leader, community worker and farmer. In 1926 she married the famous author of children's books, Nowen Godratious Mokone. She trained as a teacher at Kilnerton Teachers' Training College and pursued her career in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

In 1929, the couple settled in Sophiatown, where she taught at St Cyprian's and Mary Magdalene primary schools. They sacrificed their meagre salaries to build a school and a church. They understood the value of education as a liberator of the whole being and society.

She started a tuckshop to subsidise teachers' salaries. She knew that to produce leaders, one had to invest in excellence.

The school's success led to it being supported by the Lutheran Church and she was appointed the first black female primary school principal in South Africa.

Her love for the community was also demonstrated in her leadership in the church. She was a pillar of strength for women's rights in the church, which agreed to formally establish the first Women's Fellowship (uManyano) in South Africa. She was appointed life president.

During Sophiatown's forced removals, the couple moved to their ancestral land of Botshabelo in North West.

She became principal of Rankudu Primary School. The couple established Batloung High School and built a dormitory for 20 girls on their property. Mokone became the matron.

In 1977 they were forcibly moved from Botshabelo. She allowed the World Vision Organisation to set up a base on her land when the chief turned them down.

Her leadership culminated in drilling boreholes, building reservoirs, establishing a feeding scheme, paying school fees, establishing day-care centres and sewing lessons in Ramatlabama. She helped establish a clinic and secured an ambulance with help from South African Breweries.

In 2000, she returned to Botshabelo after the Land Restitution Act was passed. She will be buried tomorrow at Putfontein at 9am.