Monday in Grahamstown

Good news stories abound in Grahamstown. It’s easy to lose sight of these when set against the backdrop of a failed Makana Council and consequent havoc wrecked on our community.

Important that the good news stories are elevated, illuminated and celebrated. Here are a few of many.

Helen Holleman and her ever expanding team started cleaning the Cobden Street “driffie” in early Jan. The effort is sustained and inclusive. People from East and West cleaning the Amatyana “driffie” that has for centuries
divided our community. The Amatyana flows into the Blaauwkrantz / Kowie and empties into the sea at Port Alfred.

There are those that argue this – and other civic actions – help the municipality do a job they are paid to do. I understand this argument but increasingly – and mercifully – people are stepping forward to fight for the environment and people neglected by politicians. Refer Helen Holleman for the full story. Well done Helen and friends and strength to your arms.

Thembelani Mentyisi. A remarkable young man. Given his humble background, a super-achiever on a scale that few others from our city can match. There are 1275 PG Autoglass technicians in SA. Thembelani is the champion of them all. He will represent PG at the international Belron competition in Spain in June.

On Friday he shared his story at his alma mater, Mary Waters High School. He matriculated in 2017. Since meeting Thembelani through Tim Dold at PG Glass Grahamstown he has expressed desire to share his story at Mary Waters. His story of hard work, gaining experience, grasping opportunities and living with hope was enthusiastically received by the learners and staff.

Thanks to Nosiphiwo Ndawonde (instrumental in setting it up) and Mrs Faith Coetzee (Head: MW) for the opportunity and honour afforded to Thembelani.

A highlight for Thembelani was catching up with his old rugby coach, Mr Joseph Specman, father of Rosko. Now there’s a properly famous product of Grahamstown and a great story. Mr Specman speaks proudly of Rosko and
acknowledges the role that Kingswood College played in Rosko’s development. Rosko, also a Mary Waters Old Boy, did a post-matric year at Kingswood.

Let’s finish off with another sporting hero born and raised in Grahamstown. Jon Jon Smuts, product of Graeme College. 84 runs and 2 wickets in Saturday’s 6-wicket victory against Australia. His is a story of a talent properly nurtured, hard work, and perseverance. And grasping opportunities! Congratulations Jon Jon and congratulations Helen, Tim, Thembelani and the Specman family. Outstanding role-models for our community.

Happy Monday to you all.

Photo credits: The “Driffie” – Helen Holleman.
Kingswood College, South Africa
Mary Waters High School, Grahamstown
Graeme College


Before moving back to Grahamstown in Oct 2017, Graeme was a bank executive based in the big smoke and craziness of Joburg. He has 20 years’ experience in the Payments Industry. He is a Chartered Accountant, has a Masters in Management by Research (MMR) from Wits Business School, and attended an Advanced Management Programme (AMP) offered by INSEAD (The Business School for the World!) in France.  

Graeme is the founder of The Grahamstown Project. It’s simple. He says, “Grahamstown is a microcosm of South Africa. If we can’t get this place to function properly then the whole country is stuffed. Many of the troubles we experience as a country today have their roots here in Grahamstown. it is here where black and white people first engaged in conflict on the African continent. It is here where 9 wars of dispossession over 100 years took place and virtually destroyed the amaXhosa nation. But we are where we are. I don’t have a British passport and the boat-trip back to where my ancestors came from is exorbitantly expensive. Furthermore, this is my home. I am a son of Africa. We must work together to redress the injustices of the past and move as one into a brighter future.”

Graeme is an avid historian, writer, vlogger and public speaker. Like and follow the Facebook page. Join him on a tour. Contact him. He would love that.