Educating For Change

As we stood outside the Elton John Masibambisane Daycare and After-school Care Center last week, Matome Mokgoloboto, the center’s program administrator, told us how he can’t walk properly. His legs still bear the scars of beatings he received from police officers 30 years ago as he and others like him took the fight against South Africa’s oppressive Apartheid regime to the streets. But more than 20 years after racial segregation was abolished in his country, Mokgoloboto said he still lives with the consequences of Apartheid. He told us that even though he now can go to restaurants and bars with his white friends and marry a white woman, little has changed politically and economically for black South Africans. “No black man in South Africa owns his own mind,” he said. In fact, his disillusionment with his country’s political system and its ruling party, the African National Congress, is what led him to a career in education, working with children of all ages at Masi, as the center is known. He said that while the empty promises of politicians will never truly free black South Africans, education will. And that struck me. While I was disheartened to learn that the effects of Apartheid in this country will remain long after we fly home, it’s good to know that the education and skills training dozens of children receive, thanks to Jo’burg Child Welfare, will enable their generation to change South Africa for the better.
–John Tompkins