Mayfair Academy: A citadel of African oneness
By Mxolisi Ncube
JOHANNESBURG – Every cast on the stage was as cosmopolitan as the audience in the arena – a real African outlook filled the hall. Even the content in the acts spoke volumes of a future generation served not only from the academic menu, but also well-nourished on the positives of love, discipline, hard work, peace, unity and togetherness.
The message in the speeches, drama and poetry was rooted on the cardinals of social cohesion, selflessness, climate change, anti-xenophobia, the fight against gender-based violence, condemnation of child abuse and the promotion of the spirit of Ubuntu – I am because we are. To an outsider, the event could have passed for an African Renaissance lecture, or an Africa Day celebration, but alas! This was the 14th annual closing ceremony of Mayfair Academy, southwest of Johannesburg.
Like probably any other school in the Johannesburg inner-city and surrounding areas, Mayfair Academy draws its pupils from different nationalities, different parts of society, different religions, races and backgrounds, but the way they – for example, sang the South African national anthem from start to finish without dipping their voices or mumbling certain words, was special.
It spoke volumes of a future generation that not only has fully adopted South Africa as its home, but is also patriotic enough to do well by the country and raise high its flag.
And what an audience to deliver that message to than one that pooled together community leaders, academics from various fields, civil society leaders, political parties and local authorities past and present!
Those in the hall included Somali Community in SA chairperson Sheik Amir who was also the Director of Ceremony, local ward councilor Alex Christian and his mother, Zonal Chairperson of the African National Congress’ Greater Sophia Town (Zone 6) Jordan Jerry Musesi, academics Maulana Dawood Ndhlovu and Al-Hadji Kulungile Raheem Nkumane, chairperson of the Union of Arab Community in SA Abdelslam Habiballah, chairperson of the Rwandan Community in SA Garbriel Hertis, Chairperson of the Zimbabwean Community in SA Ngqabutho Mabhena, African Diaspora Forum (ADF) Chairperson Dr Abdul Elgoni, chairperson of the Oromo Community in SA Habib Newewi and ADF Trustees deputy chairperson Moegsien Williams.
The school, partly surviving on the goodwill of the Al-Imdaad Foundation for its furniture and financial boost, is by far a citadel of African one-ness. Originally run by the predominantly Muslim Somali community, the school has learners from 18 African nations, including host nation SA. A large number of students from a disadvantaged background, some them orphaned by returning attacks on migrant businesses in the country.
is blind to religion, race and or nationality in registering pupils. It accommodates the children of South Africans, Rwandans, Somalis, Zimbabweans and any other nationality and models them into disciplined future leaders. Apparently, its motto is drawn from the belief that Africa can only progress if it is socially intact across nationalities. Should its model be adopted across not only South Africa, but the whole continent, Africa stands to gain more than it can lose. And with South Africa being the Mecca of Africa, there can be no better place to plant that seed than Johannesburg.
So lucid was the message of African one-ness that the guests easily endeared themselves with the school – and its pupils.
“I am proud that this is one of the few schools locally that not only teaches the values and practice of Islam, but also imparts knowledge that make children independent, by equipping them with the skills and knowledge that will empower them to provide for their families,” said Maulana Dawood Ndhlovu.
“I am also happy that it brings together communities from different African countries to form one greater African community, not far from what I saw in Australia, where foreign nationals dominate some sections of the population.”
Not unmindful of the sporadic conflicts that keep afflicting the South African community due to misconceptions and stereotypes on migrants, Ndlovu suggested a remedy to especially the Somali and Ethiopian communities.
“My emphasis is on that you should not ignore the indigenous South African communities. You need to share your culture and knowledge – especially on how to run small businesses. Put them on the same pedestal as you and you will see how much they will be will accommodate you. The majority of South African people are in dire need of your brotherhood and hospitality and once you extend that, they will accept your religion. You are welcome to come into the townships and teach our children the Koran, even to non-Muslims and you will be welcome,” added Ndhlovu.
“I am happy that this school accepts even non-Muslims to enroll here, and I am glad to note that their behavior has now changed. That way, South Africa’s future will be fully transformed.”
Local ward councilor Alex Christian praised the school for raising responsible citizens out of the pupils.
“I was very happy when I saw these youngsters carry out a clean-up campaign in the streets, but shocked when, as they returned home, some people began to dump garbage at a place with a clear ‘No Dumping’ sign, where the children had just cleaned. How then do we expect these children to continue being responsible citizens when we do that in front of their eyes, especially after they have put in so much of a day’s work? I challenge us as citizens to stop people dumping garbage anywhere they wish, as this will make our homes and area dirty,” said the councilor.
So impressed was the ANC zonal chairperson Musesi that he promised to invite the Gauteng Member of Executive Council for Education to the 2020 closing ceremony, adding that parents, teachers and school authorities should continue to work together for the good of the pupils, the school and the community.
Clr Christian – also blown away by one of the plays on African one-ness, invited the Mayfair Academy students to perform at the official opening ceremony of Johannesburg’s Brixton multipurpose centre, slated for February 2020.
“We need to be united, despite being a diverse community of South Africans and migrants, we must all participate to build a better society. Migrants running businesses should also employ South Africans, we must not segregate against one another. We signed a memorandum of understanding with the Somali and Ethiopian communities on how we can work together going forward in a bid to nurture social cohesion and I hope we will stick to its letter and spirit. United we stand, divided we fall,” said Mr Musesi.
Want to enroll your child and make them a part of this great transformation ably led by Principal Mohamed A Abukar ? Contact Mayfair Academy via: +27(011) 837 1899, firstname.lastname@example.org, visit them at 90-9th Avenue, Mayfair, Johannesburg. South Africa. 2092, or visit their website https://www.mayfairacademy.co.za/