The famous look back on their educators

Millions of teachers across the world will today celebrate World Teachers Day. As part of the celebrations, South African personalities tell Sowetan about their favourite teachers and how they inspired them.

The day was created by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in 1994 to celebrate teachers worldwide.

Archbishop Njonkonkulu Ndungane, executive director of the Historic Schools Restoration Project, remembers his favourite teacher Mrs Sihawu: "She made school a home away from home. She was a mother to all of us".

Ndungane says his teachers laid the foundation for his passion for education.

TV presenter Bonang Matheba says some of her greatest teenage memories were with her geography teacher, Mrs Du Preez, at Fourways High School.

"She helped build my confidence," she says.

"When you have a favourite teacher you want to do well in his or her subject, so I was good in geography. But she knew I was going to be a performer.

"She called me 'Bonang my little performer'. She used to say, 'You, my darling, will be a big star'. I did not believe her at the time."

But teachers do not only inspire pupils academically.

DJ Zinhle says she was greatly inspired by her Afrikaans teacher's sense of style.

She says: "I went to Siyamukela High School in Emadadeni.

"My Afrikaans teacher was pretty and had a great sense of style. I hated the subject, but I loved her.

"Other than being beautiful, she taught us to respect everyone. She used to say it did not matter who a person was, they deserved respect."

Democratic Alliance national spokesman Mmusi Maimane says: "My favourite teacher was Sister Christina at St Angela's Primary School in Dobsonville.

"Unfortunately she passed away. She was a political activist in her own right. She groomed people like [Sister] Bernard Ncube and Premier Nomvula Mokonyane.

"My two other great teachers were Linda and Alec Galanakis. During apartheid they came to the township and gave us extra lessons at Pace [High School]. They were key in my getting a quality education."

Former government spokesman and former Black Management Forum president Jimmy Manyi remembers his Standard 5 (now Grade 8) biology teacher at KwaPhalo Higher Primary in Meadowlands as a strict disciplinarian.

"Mrs Mabuza was pregnant at the time and we were all afraid of her. When she walked past our class and we were making noise, she would whip the whole class," he says.

- monamat@sowetan.co.za

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