Home News #RIPPearlShongwe, you truly filled the world with love

#RIPPearlShongwe, you truly filled the world with love

#RIPPearlShongwe, you truly filled the world with love

By Noni Mokati

I was fortunate enough to have encountered Pearl Shongwe's charisma, light, humility, affection and resilient spirit at a young age.

The years?

Between 2002 – 2004.

Back then, we were scrawny young high school girls who had nothing but an undying passion to live out our wildest dreams and become successful.

We had these dreams while also being typical teenage girls who read sweet valley high novels and who belted out tracks by Alicia Keys (a.k.a Alicia Mkhize as we’d call her) at the top of our lungs and perfecting Beyonce’s Crazy In Love dance moves during first break in the school quad right next to the fish pond while softly laughing with no care in the world.

We were also competitive in academics always vying for top marks.

We were certainly adamant that one day, we would thrive and be our ancestors' wildest dreams.

Our mission was to be a balanced bunch of winners.

Athlone Girls High School in Observatory, north of Johannesburg served as a base and a haven for us to dream and spend our school days living boldly.

We wanted to participate in everything that the school offered including netball, hockey or partaking in speech and drama sessions which Pearl loved.

Oh and don't get me started with her work on the MDC (Matric Dance Committee) run by Mrs Koenaite.

She was simply the best, had great ideas and was a team player.

Our peers would attest to this.

Also not forgetting the first Ms Athlone School Beauty Pageant that left 'Bo Sister' (as we used to call each other) thoroughly entertained. It was a tough run between Charity Masiye and Lysandra P More (now Malatji) but a good event nonetheless.

And while I was one grade below her, I also recall how with a wide smile and thee-most perfect dental formula while dressed in her green school pullover with a white school shirt, a green skirt and her hair neatly tied back, Pearl Shongwe would often melt the hearts of any teacher she spoke to.

Be it her interaction with the school's eccentric Art teacher Ms Venter or our very feisty and strict principal Mrs Walker a.k.a Mtsamayi – as she was fondly known – Pearl was one of the learners you'd find in the school's management office and never for a bad rap.

#RIPPearlShongwe, you truly filled the world with love
Corridors that Pearl Shongwe once walked as a high school learner at Athlone Girls High School in Joburg while trying to live the school motto of being fearless and faithful.

She was a bit of a teacher's pet, I'd say.

And of course, she had a bit of a twang whenever she spoke English.

I think it was just for effect…hahaha

I smile today knowing fully that wherever they are, Mr and Mrs Ramsuraj, Mrs Ameen, Mrs Johnson, Mrs Stacey, Ms Pillay, Mrs Joseph, Mrs Koenaite, Ms Sebata, Ms Koloko, our Zulu teacher Mrs Buthelezi, the late Mr Birdsey, many more other teachers are proud of Pearl and all her achievements.

This includes Legodi, our after school snack and apple munchie salesman.

But I believe none are more prouder than Pearl's peers.

We are happy that she too, just like us, had a mantra that she lived by each week in the form of our school song.

We sang it on summer days at assembly in the school hall and repeated it each year in the breeze of autumn and on cold winter days.

May this song remind all Atholinians, past and present, that we should strive to live through the words of this song, just like Pearl did.

Let us live the best versions of our lives and make this world a better place.

An ode to Pearl Shongwe

In the morning of my life, I shall look to the sunrise

At the moment of my life when the world is new

And the blessing I shall ask is that God will grant me

To be fearless and strong and true

And to fill the world with love my whole life through

And to fill the world with love

And to fill the world with love

And to fill the world with love

My whole life through

In the noontime of my life, I shall look to the sunshine

At a moment of my life when the sky is blue

And the blessing I shall ask will remain unchanging

To be fearless and strong and true

And to fill the world with love my whole life through

In the evening of my life, I shall look to the sunset

At the moment of my life when the night is due

And the question I shall ask only God can answer

Was I fearless and strong and true?

Did I fill the world with love my whole life?

Did I fill the world with love?

Did I fill the land with love?

Did I fill the school with love?

My whole life through

*Mokati is a former learner at Athlone Girls High School and the editor of The African

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