As black families grapple with all manner of challenges to raise their children to be better people and to serve society, one is inspired by some of the shining stories of success. The Nkuhlu family is one such example. They have beaten all odds and made a constructive success of their lives.
Thembile and Lulama vowed to use their meagre means to propel all their seven children to a better life. They accepted that the system had paralysed them, but they were determined to make sure that their seven boys would have wider choices in life.
Their inspiring success became apparent during the funeral of their mother, MaMjoli, as she was affectionately known, last week, as community leaders and family speakers spoke about the wisdom displayed by the couple.
This couple, who lived in one of the basic four-roomed houses of Kwazakhele with this crowd of boys, told themselves from the beginning that they were going to invest every cent they had for the education of their children.
Mandisi, one of the sons, told the mourners that his mother was the brains behind his parents’ vision and objective: to educate and provide them with a balanced diet.
Education was seen as a ticket out of the trappings of poverty. He told of their mother never missing a day of work, as she toiled to realise her vision of educating her children.
“My mom and dad woke up early every day to go to work at Livingstone Hospital, as a nurse and clerk. Sometimes she worked nightshifts, a strenuous thing if you have many children as they had,” he said.
“Mom and Dad just loved us all on the way to success.
“They believed early on that we are university material. That we are intelligent and capable.
“That we are destined for better things in life. They never bought into the theory that by loving and providing for your kids, you are spoiling them,” Mandisi said.
“Their world view is that you must nurture, love and support your kids all the way to success. I am so glad they believed in that, and it worked.”
Mandisi described his mother as the epitome of good parenting.
“She was serious and strict as a parent. She upheld her values and lived them in a way that simply rubbed off on all around her.
“She was a very caring and loving motherly figure in our lives, and very hard-working. When we were growing up, we were lazy in terms of physical chores around the house.
“We would be reading books and newspapers. Her biggest worry and mission was that we become valuable to society.
“So this was the abiding mission and daily anxiety between our parents and me.
“What my parents wanted, I wanted, their goals were my goals. Their fears were my fears, their dreams were and still are my dreams.”
His mother pursued them with vigour to provide her children with proper nutrition.
“Every day, ever since I was a child, our mother ensured that we have three meals a day. “She was like a servant leader. “She would prepare those meals by herself for a very big household of at least seven boys, and many more relatives and friends who were passing by.
“This was amazing to me because both my parents were people of minimal means – but in some mysterious way, every day, without fail, my mother would ensure there were three meals a day. I always looked forward to her food. “I hail her and my father for this. “In my view, this is one of her greatest achievements in life.
“As a nurse, having proper meals and good nutrition was key for both mental and physical development.”
MaMjoli was born 80 years ago, in German Village in Peddie.
After matriculating at Healdtown High School, she trained as a nurse and worked at Frere and Livingstone hospitals.
She also furthered her education through correspondence at Unisa.
Her funeral service was held at Nangoza Jebe Hall.
Among the hundreds of mourners there were well-known and prominent figures like Mkhuseli Faku, Bulelani Ngcuka, Saki Macozoma and Bongani Gxilishe.
Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu told me that Thembile and MaMjoli had opted to invest in their children’s future rather than purchasing cars or moving to other homes.
“They believed education was their only ladder to comfort and security. All their energy and effort went into helping the children acquire university education.
“Luxury only came to these parents once all the children were graduates. It is not surprising that these boys are content with what they have done for their mother.
“She laid the foundation for them to be able to look after them, in their old age time,” Nkuhlu said.
An emotional Mandisi concluded his tribute by saying: “This is their legacy to us as a family. You must love your kids, you must nurture them, you must believe in them and they must reciprocate.
“They will become the best that they can be in life. This is my inheritance. “I treasure it and apply it to my own kids. “My mother preached this message for the benefit of the grandchildren as well.
“If there is any secret to her parenting, it is this. She believes in you, in a way that becomes difficult for you not to believe in yourself.
“Mom and Dad, you have succeeded as parents. Your success is our success.
“Your dreams are our dreams! We will continue to strive to fulfil them.”