A Tribute to Bra Mhligo Knowledge Nduna (1941 – 2022)

Bra Mhligo Knowledge Nduna

The Grand Patriarch of the Education and Teaching Fraternity

Bra Mhligo, today our country has been robbed of one of its most distinguished sons and patriot. Throughout the illustrious journey of your life, you were like that biblical star of Bethlehem that brought hope to many who looked up to you for inspiration. Through your musical baton and notes, you brought direction and harmony to the many communities whose lives would have been otherwise disrupted by the ruthless regimes of their times.

Through your education, you were a fountain and a source of knowledge for many learners and student communities who crossed your path. Through your maths education, you multiplied the fortunes of many of your alumni who benefitted from your mastery of teaching. They came to appreciate that mathematical principle that indeed, “if two rules are identical except for the values of the same feature, then the two rules can be replaced by a simple rule”. Through your inter-generational impact on your prodigies, you have had a direct impact on the current and future generations, who will forever be indebted to you for their prosperity in life.

You were not only a fashionable and dignified dandy (smart dresser), but you were also a Big Daddy not only to your children (Nolwazi, Mpumelelo, Nombulelo and Mzimkhulu). But you were an ever-present father figure to the orphans and children of a lesser God – who looked up to your guardianship to reset the GPS of their lives. Many communities do not mourn your passing and transition to the spiritual realm today, but we celebrate your gift of life and love to humanity.

As we inter your remains today in the bowels of mother earth, we remain grateful and indebted to your late parents GH Mzimkhulu Nduna and Winnifred Nduna (nee Malgas) for bringing you to our world on that early summer day on 25 November 1941 in your birthplace in Grahamstown. We are grateful to the Xhosa midwives whose surgical hands gave the first touch to your soft and brittle head during your moment of birth. And grateful to those who cut your wet umbilical cord and placenta for ritualistic interment to the homestead kraal to connect you with your ancestry and our lives.

After completing his JMB Matric qualification at Healdtown High School in 1963, MK Nduna acquired his post-secondary education in Bachelor of Science in Maths and Physics in 1964/65 at the University of Fort Hare (where he was expelled for political reasons). He later acquired his Junior Secondary Teachers Certificate at Lovedale Missionary College in Alice, Eastern Cape.

Lovedale Missionary College was founded in 1824 by John Bennie and John Ross of the Glasgow Missionary Society (GMS) and produced many African intellectuals including Steve Biko and Thabo Mbeki. Like many of his peers who were born in the 1940s, they were born during a turbulent political milieu that changed South Africa, especially with the advent of formalized Apartheid in 1948.

It was around 1968 that he started his career as a Maths educator at the Barolong High School in Montshioa Stad near Mahikeng. Now Barolong High School – which was founded in 1912 by the local Barolong Tribal Authority – was one of the prestigious schools offering the best academic experience for its student communities. He was later offered a promotional teaching post at the nearby Kebalepile High School in Montshioa Township in Mahikeng.

After his holy matrimony to his beautiful wife Hazel Nduna in 1971 at the prime age of 31 years of age, Bra Mhligo was offered a vice-principalship position at Sekitla High School in Mathibestad, Hammanskraal. His excellent leadership acumen as an educator earned him the top post of being the first principal of the newly established Sempapa Middle School where he took early retirement at the age of 55 in 1996.

But outside his illustrious career in the education sector, Bra Mhligo was an amazing socialite with an affinity for a flamboyant lifestyle that attracted many – young and old – to his sociable persona. His insatiable love for life transformed his homes – both in Temba and Garsfontein – into a warm homes of entertainment full of music and laughter.

With his deep baritone voice, he shared his boundless knowledge and wisdom with intellectual debates and engagement that demonstrated his vast encyclopedic knowledge of both local and global affairs. Together with his wife who shared his teaching profession, they had a huge influence on their children who became professionals in aviation, engineering, medicine, and education.

Throughout his life – from the cradle to the grave – MK Nduna was a committed and staunch member of the Methodist Church where he was baptized, confirmed, and served in many capacities. At his current place of worship, Glen Methodist Church in Garsfontein, he became a society steward and chorister.

Bra Mhligo will be remembered for his deep love of his family, a very responsible strategic thinker who through great sacrifice gave his children all the tools to receive the best education at the best institutions, and looked so well after his wife and family, had many good friends of class and fine characters, associated himself with the fine value system of its own and putting Christianity first in his family.

A responsible father earns a lot of respect from his children, family and friends. And how he embraced everyone who came into his life, despite the changes and challenges that came along with it. His love for music knew no bounds for he joined choirs, choristers and music training in the list of the things he has done. His family is certainly sure that the impact he had on their lives will live on, throughout the generations to come.


Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down today
Nothing gold can stay.