1 Early years at Nungwane -1950
2 Mariathal and the aftermath, 1951-1956
3 Adams College 1957-1958
4 Teaching at St Magdalene’s 1959
5 Basutoland 1960-1961
6 Swaziland 1962-1973
7 England 1974-1979
8 Back in South Africa 1980
9 Urban Foundation 1980-1982
10 Sibusisiwe High School 1983-1989
Early years at Nungwane -1950
Khulekani Reginald Myeza was born on the 6th of May 1932 at Itshehlophe, a dispersed village located between Lower Nungwane and Lower Lovu Rivers not far from the Sugar Mill Village of Illovo Sugar Estates. His schooling started at the age of 10 at Nungwane School. In those years Adams Mission established an outstation in the Nungwane Valley, with a church which was used on Sundays for services, and as a school during the week. So on the 2nd of February 1942 the young Myeza boy started his first school year in the overcrowded church-cum-school of St. Raphael’s – the Arch Angel at Nungwane. By 1944, when he was in Standard I, a Boy Scouts Camp was held at Nungwane School. Young Myeza joined the Nungwane Wolf Cubs and became the leader of the first pack. He qualified as a scout in 1947. As a scout he attended the memorial service of the late Dr JL Dube who died on the 11th of February, 1946, held at Nungwane School.
In 1947, during the Royal visit of King George V of England, the Boy Scouts of Natal and Zululand had the opportunity to attend the occasion of the King’s visit to Greyville Race Course. On that day they saw prominent people such as Dr. B.W. Vilakazi Senior Lecturer in African Languages at the University of Witwatersrand, and Anton Lembede, the founder of ANC Youth League in 1944. Both Dr Vilakazi and Anton Lembede died in 1947. 1948 was his last year at Nungwane.
In 1949 he proceeded to St. Magdalene’s, a small mission station near the mouth of Ezimbokodweni River, to start a new life in boarding school. At the end of 1950 he passed Standard 7 with a second class, at the time an external examination of the Native Education Department in Pietermaritzburg.
Mariathal and the aftermath, 1951-1956
Now he had to find a suitable school to do the Junior Certificate course of the University of South Africa. As a Catholic in the Diocese of Mariannhill, he had to choose between St. Francis College and the newly opened Mariathal High School near St. Mary’s Seminary at Ixopo in the midlands of Natal. He was compelled by his financial position to choose Mariathal since their school and boarding fees were much lower than those of Mariannhill. Fr. Siegfried Schultis gave him a good send off for his Junior Certificate course when he secured a sponsor from Germany to pay for his first year books and boarding fees at Mariathal in 1951.
The second year, 1952 – the year of the ANC Defiance Campaign, started well. But in October of 1952 twenty six students were expelled from Mariathal High School following an incident of a protest against the excessive caning of Protas Nkabinde on the 5th of October 1952, by Rev. Fr. Francis Xavier Von Quadt CMM. Eight students were arrested by the Ixopo police and held in detention for 21 days, from 8 to 28 October, when they were discharged, defended by an attorney from CC Rollstone and Co. in Pietermaritzburg. Reginald Myeza was one of the eight students charged with public violence.
The student’s arrest and detention drew a large number of sympathetic visitors, among them Dr. Wilson Zamindlela Conco (Natal ANC Vice President to Chief AJ Luthuli), Dr James LZ Njongwe (ANC Acting Provincial President of the Cape Province) and MB Yengwa (ANC Natal Provincial General Secretary). To Myeza personally the visit of the three prominent ANC leaders marked a long political journey and association with Dr. Conco and Mr. Yengwa later in Swaziland and subsequently in London and Canada. Yengwa also introduced him to Steven Dlamini and Moses Mabhida. He joined the African National Congress whilst in detention. He was 20 years of age.
Between 1953 and 1955 he was relegated to the backyard of students’ politics in the struggle against the incipient Bantu Education Act No. 47 of 1953. It was indexed by the Natal Native Education Department, and therefore, none of the schools would admit him to complete his Junior Certificate. With the help of HMS Makhanya who was the first Black Inspector of Schools in Natal, he was able return to Umbumbulu Secondary School in 1956, to complete his Junior Certificate. Umbumbulu Secondary School had at the time Miss Sibusisiwe Violet Makhanya as a chairperson of the school committee. The school was later renamed after her.
Adams College 1957-1958
In 1957 Myeza was admitted to the Primary Higher Teachers Course (T.3.) at Adams College whose name was being changed to Amanzimtoti Zulu Training College. When he was elected head Prefect of the Training College at the very onset, he became aware that he was probably heading for greater involvement in student politics than the humble beginning at Mariathal High School. With the mass students’ walk-out on 29 October 1958 over the manhandling of an African labourer Mr Mathe by Mr. JLC Strydom, he was, as head Prefect, the Number One accused as instigator of the unrest and subsequently debarred from sitting for the Primary Higher Teachers Certificate Examination.
Teaching at St Magdalene’s 1959
In 1959, for a period of eight months, he taught Std III and IV classes at St. Magdalene’s Intermediate School, which was at that time a private Catholic School. However, at the end of October of that year, following a visit from the Circuit Inspector of Schools of Durban South Circuit Mr. FM Hallowes, the principal Fr. Werner informed Myeza verbally that Hallowes, in his capacity as Circuit Inspector, wrote a letter to Bishop Alphonse Streit CMM of Mariannhill, notifying him that the Department was reluctant to renew the application of St. Magdalene’s as a private school whilst they retained a certain Reginald Myeza on the staff of St. Magdalene’s. It was clear that he could not stay on without compromising the school.
The Department of Native Affairs and subsequently that of Bantu Education was following Myeza through the members of the Special Branch ever since his expulsion from Adams College in 1958. Realising that this spelt the end of the road for his teaching career in South Africa, he contacted Roma Teachers’ Training College in Basutoland to accommodate him in their second year T.3.II class in 1960.
The following year, 1960, Myeza completed the final year Basutoland Primary Higher Teachers Certificate at Roma College outside Maseru. However, the certificate he had gained was deliberately not recognized by the South African Department of Bantu Education, so he applied for a teaching post in Maseru. He started teaching at St. Bernadette’s Higher Primary in 1961 and also taught part-time at the nearby St Joseph’s Training College.
In the middle of January 1962, he left Basutoland to take up a teaching post at the Salesian Boys High School in Manzini, Swaziland. There he was joined by Mr Habedi, previously the first headmaster of Ohlange, appointed by Dr Dube when he retired from school work. At the time South African refugees were on the increase in Swaziland, among them Dr. WZ Conco, practicing as a doctor at Golela, ANC Youth League co-founder Jordan Ngubane, AC Shangase, Joe Mkhwanazi and Moses Mabhida. During Myeza’s tenure in Swaziland he pursued his passion for education further by adding to his qualifications a Diploma in Education from the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland as well as an ACP Diploma of the College of Preceptors of London.
Scholarships from the Sir Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust of the Anglo-American Corporation of South Africa and the Lenwood Trust Fellowship enabled Myeza to further his studies in England between 1974 to1979, where he completed a BA (Ed) degree. A UNESCO Fellowship made further studies possible and in 1979 he obtained an M Ed degree at the University of Hull. His Masters dissertation explored the development of African teacher training in South Africa between 1841 and 1979.
During that period he again joined Dr. Conco and MB Yengwa in London as well as George Mduduzi Mbhele who was then a Head of Department of a Comprehensive High School at Ecclesfield outside Sheffield. After completion of his M Ed degree at the end of 1979, he went on an educational tour sponsored by UNESCO to Tanzania, Zambai and Malawi before returning to Swaziland as per agreement with the sponsors.
Back in South Africa 1980
He arrived in Swaziland in the middle of November 1979, only to find out that the Swaziland Education Department was not prepared to offer him a teaching post. Although reluctant, he was compelled to return to South Africa and by May 1980 he was teaching at Mpumalanga College in Hammarsdale and later in the year at Charles Sabelo High School in Umbumbulu.
Urban Foundation 1980-1982
At the end of 1980 the Urban Foundation appointed Myeza to the post of Manager of Educational Development in the Transvaal. Between 1980 and1982 he was closely involved with the Funda Centre in Diepkloof. During that time offers to pursue doctoral studies at Hull University, an invitation to attend a conference at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and an offer of a prestigious Hubert Humphrey Fellowship to spend a year at California University all had to be declined because he was refused a passport by the Department of Internal Affairs (now Home Affairs) on the grounds that he was not a South African citizen.
Sibusisiwe High School 1983-1989
At the beginning of 1983 Reginald Myeza was appointed headmaster of Sibusisiwe High School in Umbumbulu. The seven years of his stay saw a multitude of improvements at the school, both in infrastructure and in curriculum development. Through tireless fundraising and lobbying he addressed the overcrowding of 650 pupils sharing 11 classrooms by securing funds from the Consulate-General of the USA in Durban and the Urban Foundation to build six new classrooms.
The staff room was converted to a school library, the bank overlooking the sports field terraced to serve as a pavilion and a new entrance hall and gateway constructed. The Anglo-American Chairman’s fund sponsored a science laboratory, Illovo Sugar Estates fitted all classrooms with new blackboards, The SA Sugar Association in partnership with Gilby Distillers funded three boreholes and Mono Pumps supplied two water pumps.
In 1986 Sibusisiwe was compelled by the Circuit Office to reclaim Standard 6 which inflated the pupil numbers from 650 to 880. To relieve the ensuing space problem Myeza applied for a site to build new Junior Secondary classes on a vacant lot near Umbumbulu Police Station. The site was granted by the Tribal Authority on the 3rd March 1988 and officially demarcated on the 16th June 1988 and so the Hamilton Makhanya Memorial School was founded.
A week after this historic extension of Sibusisiwe High School an official of Toyota Foundation at Prospecton visited the school to announce that Sibusisiwe High School was one of the two schools in the region selected to be upgraded to a Comprehensive High School. As headmaster Myeza submitted his requirements for the upgrade early in 1989 to Toyota and the Department of Education. He requested a full commercial stream, a technical stream with Drawing, Metalwork and Woodwork, an academic stream with technical options, an academic stream with commercial options and the introduction of Music Theory with practical options including piano and other string instruments.
In 1989 Myeza departed from Sibusisiwe High School to take up the principalship of Immaculata High School in Diepkloof, as the first layman to head this historic Catholic school since its foundation in 1920. In October 1990 he accepted the principalship of Ziphembeleni Secondary School at Inanda Newtown, during which time he also did part-time lecturing at the University Durban-Westville. From 1992 he lectured in English at the Ndebele College of Education in KwaNdebele until his retirement in 1998.
Over the years he has built up an extensive collection of newspaper articles relating to education and schools in South Africa. Part of this collection is bound in three volumes, now lodged with the Killie Campbell Africana Library in Durban.
At home he renewed his ANC membership under Adams Central Branch – an area where his political ‘wisdom teeth’ were cut. For good reasons he had to work with Danganya Branch under the Durban South Region working under the late Comrade Felix Dlamini who assisted him in many ways in solving community issues. He served under the Chairmanship of Mr. Mensuet Msiya in his committee from July 1979 to July 2001.
Personal interview with Mr Myeza.
KwaZulu Natal Education Journal, v 1(3).