School’s ‘time capsule’ secrets revealed

MYSTERY BOX: Kabega Park Primary principal Patrick Sharp with head girl Chadele Blignault, Buks Groenewald and head boy Ryan Rowe. Picture: EUGENE COETZEE
MYSTERY BOX: Kabega Park Primary principal Patrick Sharp with head girl Chadele Blignault, Buks Groenewald and head boy Ryan Rowe. Picture: EUGENE COETZEE

A CLOSELY guarded “time capsule” devised by pupils at Port Elizabeth’s Kabega Park Primary School 25 years ago finally gave up its secrets on the school’s 50th anniversary at the weekend.

The box, which had curious parents and teachers tense with excitement on Friday at the thought of finally getting to know what was inside, had been filled with items by the Grade 7 pupils of 1989.

Its secrets had been kept safe in the principal’s office at the school since then.

It was first handed to Dr Johan Roux, principal from 1987 to 1996, for safe-keeping; then Bennie Black, principal for the next 15 years, and finally to Patrick Sharp two years ago. Excited teacher Corrie van Eck said: “At first, I thought perhaps there was some money or something like that inside. Everyone was curious to find out what was inside that box. It has been a big secret at the school [for years] and everyone was talking about it.”

The wait came to an end on Friday when Sharp forced the box open with a screwdriver at a gathering in the school hall.

The contents included stationery price lists, education department circulars, sweet prices and drawings from the pupils, as well as letters in which they spelt out what things were like in 1989.

The contents were handed to Black and one of the then Grade 7 pupils, Madeleine van der Merwe, 38.

Van der Merwe was the only one of the Grade 7 class responsible for putting together the “time capsule” present at the opening of the box.

She speculated that her old classmates were either overseas or had missed the advertisement.

The pupils had been split in small groups and wrote anything – such as a letter about how the weather was outside on that day and wondering what it would be like 25 years down the line.

Van der Merwe said her classmates had also compiled a price list of items such as petrol, pencils, a suitcase and other things.

Comparing it to prices today, she said: “For example, the Huisgenoot magazine was selling for R1.59 but now it is about R21. Petrol was R3 a litre but today it’s just over R13.

“A bottle of baby purity food was 20c.” – Hendrick Mphande

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