Memorial service for Uzusakhe of Hillwood Primary

Balloon release for Uzusakhe

One of my mentors told me you need a thick skin when you are in education, especially when you have to deal with all issues related to education outside the classroom. Education is a cauldron of contestation and one needs to be ultra resilient. I have taken this advice seriously and have passed on this advice to many a school head, school leader and even to colleagues. But, I will never get used to numbing my emotions where our children are concerned - thank goodness for this!
Today again, I was so vulnerable when we bid Uzusakhe, a mere 11 years, goodbye at a memorial service held for him at the school. He is going to be buried in the Eastern Cape, his ancestral home, this weekend. Uzusakhe drowned when he and friends went to Muizenberg beach last Tuesday. Apparently he and his friends usually go to the public library on a Tuesday, but the heat wave drove them to the beach.

The memorial service was dignified, yet extremely emotional. I watched the learners sitting on the hard tarmac in the blazing sun. Like many schools, Hillwood Primary school does not have a hall. The learners seem so content to sit on this hard surface, extremely well behaved given that the service was an hour long. I felt rather guilty sitting on a chair while the young mourners who deserved to enjoy similar comforts sat quietly on the ground.

When Uzusakhe's classmates sang a dirge and they released 11 white balloons in the air, the tears of his parents, his aunts, uncles, friends of the family, schoolchildren and teachers flowed freely. As much as I tried my tears forced their way from under the sunglasses. Afterwards, when Uzusakhe's Dad broke down during my exchange with him, I realized how deep their loss is.

Our children are our treasures, our conscience and they are mirrors to our souls. When we lose one of our soul mates, it hurts.


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