Alumni Newsletter 2021/03

WK & Eswatini Updates

The civil unrest in Eswatini that began on 25 June 2021 brought about anxiety and uncertainty among members of the Kamhlaba community, and people in various parts of the world who were concerned. It felt like a ‘decade-long’ series of activities, and none would have imagined that things could turn out to be what they became. At the height of the protests during that week, threats to the physical safety of our students and staff were a lived reality. Staff and day students leaving campus had to navigate burning roadblocks and angry protesters.

One teacher had their windscreen smashed and others were confronted by people wielding pangas (machetes) and demanding money to pass. The car of at least one family taking students home was damaged.

For those remaining on campus, the protests were likewise harrowing: burning buildings in the Sidwashini industrial area in Mbabane, barely a kilometer away from the school, were easily visible (with one building burning for days); gunfire, including automatic gunfire, was common, and reports of looting at the shops visible from Waterford reached campus. There was also word that Waterford itself might be targeted.

The rondavels - the original school buildings. 

During much of this time, the internet and cellular data was down, and staff and students were unable to communicate internally or with family. And, as the unrest continued into the second day, the school contemplated having to reduce portion sizes in the dining hall because food supplies were dwindling and all shops were closed.

Our members of staff, while navigating all of these challenges, had to work hard to ensure not only the health and safety of our students on campus but also to keep them busy and entertained during that time.

The College had to conduct some consultations and make certain decisions on a number of issues during that time. One of these decisions was on the extension of mid-term break until Monday 12 July in order for students to return on campus or to Mbabane under the Covid-19 regulations in Eswatini and travel to and from the college safely. School resumed online on Monday 12 July, and we hope to return to face-to-face teaching and learning soon, on the advice of the Ministry of Education and Training in Eswatini.

The College received a Petition from some of the alumni to make a statement or establish a position regarding the events around the civil unrest in the Kingdom of Eswatini. Indeed, it was heartening to see that so many alumni remain connected and concerned about the welfare of the people of Eswatini and the future of the country.

As a school founded on principles of social justice, and as members of a movement that seeks a peaceful and sustainable future, it is wonderful to see our alumni carrying that legacy forward. We reiterate the appreciation already expressed by the Governing Council to the alumni who reached out to the school, individually and collectively, to offer support and best wishes for the health and safety of the school’s students, staff and management.

Students playing TV games at Ekukhuleni hostel during the civil unrest period.

The Civil Unrest in Eswatini

By Khulekani Msweli (Eswatini, WK 97 - 01)
A recent picture of Khulekani at Vuvulane Food Market in Eswatini.

On Friday 9 July 2021, WK alumnus Khulekani Msweli sent us the following piece about the unrest situation in Eswatini, for inclusion in this newsletter:

“The large mango trees of Eswatini, with their abundant fruit and cooling shade, have been listening, for many years, to the local boy’s disgruntlement of being sent back home because his school fees have not been paid. His grandparents have also sat under the trees and lamented about their pensioner’s grant that never came through, even this month. His mother has shed many tears, under the trees, 

wondering how she will cope with the needs of all her children. His eldest brother has kicked the trees many times wondering what the whole point of attending university was, if, today, he remains idle with no job. The mango trees have been listening to all those that gather under them, with good and bad stories, since 1973, season after season, and the cries have been louder and louder.

What a lot of people are witnessing, as a shock and out of character for the people of Eswatini, has been a long time coming. We have been a pressure cooker waiting to explode. With many years of being systematically silenced and oppressed, youth unemployment on the rise, police brutality at an extreme rate, gender based violence at an all-time high, the government’s inefficient service delivery together with rampant corruption, and, the cherry on top of the cake, the royal family’s opulence reaching fever pitch, something had to give.

In the weeks and days leading to Saturday, 25th of June 2021 to Wednesday 30th of June 2021, where we saw a protest that had started off as a peaceful protest, of delivering petitions to constituency MPs, escalate into a blood-bath, like none we have ever seen before, of civilians being shot at by the Eswatini armed forces, and the simultaneous burning and looting of property, throughout the four regions of the country, was due to a combination of several factors. Three elected members of parliament (Hon. Magawugawu, Hon. Bacede and Hon. Mthandeni) had raised our concerns, as citizens, that the way we were being governed was no longer conducive to our development and wellbeing, thus we would like to have democratic reforms that would allow us to elect our own Prime Minister, instead of the current procedure where HM King Mswati III appoints a Prime Minister from the Dlamini ruling clan.

The MPs statements, which were made within the chambers of parliament, were met with resistance by the government, doubting their legitimacy, insinuating that such calls for change were not from the people but an isolated agenda that wants to bring disharmony. As that was ongoing and being debated in parliament, a young university student, Thabani Nkomonye, mysteriously died, in what the police claimed was a car accident. That incident then took center stage as his parents and the public saw it is a murder that was committed by the police and then staged as a car accident. As more and more cases of police brutality had surfaced, this then lit the fire, mostly, amongst the youth that started protests demanding justice for Thabani. From those protests there was then a general consensus amongst the youth to hand deliver petitions to all the MPs at their respective constituencies. When the government saw the sudden wave of petitions, which were mostly encouraged by the three MPs, that raised the concerns, the Acting Prime Minister, Themba Masuku, then banned the delivery of the rest of the petitions which were scheduled for Saturday the 25th of June 2021. The banning and harassment, by the police, then led to the escalation of the situation to what it is now.

Over 50 people have been claimed to be dead (government has acknowledged 27) and many more injured, since the protests began. The most devastating is that of watching and seeing the videos and photos of civilians being shot and beaten by the Eswatini Police and the Umbutfo Eswatini Defense Force (military of Eswatini). It has been even more harrowing, for me, as some of the victims have had the courage to speak to me about how they survived what were shots that were meant to kill them, yet they were unarmed and some, as young as 5 years old, have died from bullet wounds. Justice has to be granted to all the victims through independent investigations, as there are possibilities of crimes against humanity.

It has been equally devastating to see how much damage has been done to businesses and general property, which we have all condemned, an act from the youth that no longer have anything to lose. Access to the internet was also deliberately shut-down to stop online social media communications, making it hard for the international community to know what was fully happening in the country and disrupting all manner of conducting business. The internet resumed full access on Thursday 8th of July. So many lines of human rights have been crossed throughout the ordeal.

The people of Eswatini, in all corners of the country, have followed constitutional methods of raising their very clear concerns, by petitioning their elected MPs. What we, the people of Eswatini, through various civil society stakeholders, are jointly asking for, from HM King Mswati III’s government, is:

· An inclusive political dialogue

· Total unbanning of political parties

· A transitional authority

· A multiparty democratic dispensation

· A new democratic constitution

I need to live in a country that respects all my rights, is democratic, has equal opportunities and has a government that is for the people by the people.”

Khulekani Msweli is a WK alumnus who is actively involved in developmental projects in the community of Vuvulane in the eastern part of Eswatini. He is the Founding Director of Vuvulane Food Market., a simple organic food cafe, offering fresh and tasty meals.

Swazi-Canadian Diaspora Network

A group of WK alumni and others have started a Swazi-Canadian Diaspora Network and are kindly reaching out to fellow alumni or anyone who can support their efforts to support Eswatini following the recent most challenging times. They are attempting to provide support and raise awareness of the recent civil unrest in Eswatini. Anyone who would like to help the Swazi-Canadian Diaspora Network can contact Christie by email here.

Kamhlaba Challenge Fund

David Crush (SA, WK 70 - 74) organized a marathon challenge in 2018 in an effort to raise funds for a Swati student to attend WKUWCSA.

The Waterford Kamhlaba Foundation of South Africa (WKFSA), in close cooperation with the WK Advancement Office, has developed a crowd-funding platform: Kamhlaba Challenge! This is a beautiful, new and exciting website where, with just a few clicks, alumni and friends of WK can submit details of a fundraising challenge they plan to undertake in support of the school.

Challenges will be uploaded to the website and from there you will be able to send the link to friends, family, workmates who can use the platform to spur you on by donating to the school. Kamhlaba Challenges can vary from the epic (such as swimming across a lake) to the cerebral (say, a 24 hour Scrabble Tournament) to the plain daft (for example agreeing to stop banging on about Brexit for three months in return for donations to the school). It's up to you and what you think your supporters would like you to do! The first four challenges have now been submitted by WKFSA member, Sandile Hlope (WK 84-89), Sibongile Gumbi (WK 84-86) and Mandi Mzimba (WK 72-76) and Thakane Molapo (WK 74-77).


Admissions Updates
Thank you to all those who have referred our boarding applicants. We encourage all our alumni to recommend us to their friends, family and colleagues. We still do have several boarding places available for January 2022 in the lower forms.
Emhlabeni Residence which houses IB students.

Alumni Updates

 Congratulations Dalumzi Mhlanga
(Zimbabwe, WK 07 - 08)
Congratulations to Dalumuzi Mhlanga (Zimbabwe WK 07- 08) who recently launched NOTTO AFRICA, a rent tracking platform that uses tenants’ payment history to help them access a home loan, at a fair interest rate.
Congratulations Lindo Zondo
(South Africa, WK 15 - 16)

We are proud of our alumnus Lindo Zondo (South Africa, WK 15-16) who delivered a moving speech as the 2021 Senior Class Speaker during this year’s Commencement at The College of Idaho.

Mandla Reissmann
(Eswatini, WK 97 - 04)
Mandla writes:
“I am delighted to share with you that I have graduated from my Masters programme in Futures Studies with a very good grade on my thesis (4 out of a possible 5 points). This research holds a special place in my heart as it is auto-ethnographic in nature, it hinges on myself being a part of the group, organisation and nation being studied. This link will allow you to access the official publication by the University of Turku. Please feel free to share it with anyone else you think would benefit from reading the work I have done.”

Dick & Enid Eyeington Soccer Tournament

If it wasn’t for Covid, this year we would have enjoyed the 13th edition of the Dick and Enid Eyeington Soccer Tournament which is usually held on 22 July (King Sobhuza Day in Eswatini) and features alumni and friends of Waterford Kamhlaba. The last tournament was in 2019 and it featured 14 teams – 10 men’s teams and 4 women’s teams. It was a very competitive social tournament and all teams played exciting football on the Waterford sports fields.

A picture taken during the 2019 Dick & Enid Eyeington Tournament.

Dick and Enid Eyeington joined the Waterford family in 1971 as a Geography teacher and School Nurse respectively.They worked at the school for the next 24 years, during which Dick became the Head of the Geography department, Deputy Headmaster and ultimately he was appointed the Headmaster in 1984. As Dick rose in the ranks, he continued to be an avid football player and coach. Enid was very involved in the community that Waterford is situated in. By 1993, Enid was counselling and educating those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and introducing home based care systems in Eswatini. Enid also led the school’s Community Service programme, an initiative that lies at the heart of the school today.

The 7-a-side football tournament is in the honour of these two brilliant souls who helped shape education and healthcare not only in Eswatini, but in multiple African countries as well.

Alumni Speaker Series

Our UWC Africa Week Alumni Speaker Series takes place on Wednesday 4 August 2021, starting at 7 PM (SAST). For more details, please have a look at the poster below and click through this link if you want to participate.

Farewell Joanne, Polycarp & Marloes

Joanne de Koning (L) in a jovial mood with students back in 2018.
Waterford recently bade farewell to three staff members: Joanne de Koning (Deputy Principal: Academics), Polycarp Wekesa (Geography teacher and Director of Residences) and Marloes Vrolijk (TOK Teacher), who, without doubt, made or may be continuing to make some impact in the lives of members of our alumni community. While it has been difficult to say goodbye to the three teachers, it is also encouraging to know that they have been courageous enough to take steps towards pursuing their careers elsewhere.

Two of them (Joanne and Polycarp) are going to UWC Adriatic and UWC Changshu China respectively, and it is a great pleasure to know that they will still be within the UWC movement. Marloes is going to do her PhD in the Netherlands.

The School Principal Patricia Angoy said:

“Everyone in our college has been touched by and felt the influence of each one of our leaving staff members and I wish them all they hope for themselves in the coming months and years.”

 Polycarp (R) pictured with Admissions Director, John Storer, recently.
   Marloes (C) in a happy mood during the 2019 IB Graduation.
The Advancement Office is here to serve you and answer any questions you may have. You can get in touch with any of us and we'll be happy to help:
Banele Nkambule - Donor Relations Manager:
Nosimilo Khumalo - Alumni Engagement Officer: 
Nonkululeko Msweli - Fundraising & Database Assistant: 
Mancoba Mabuza - Communications & Public Relations Officer: 
Lizz Mhangami - Advancement Director: 

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