Malebogo Modise

We were joined last week by Malebogo Modise, a former pupil of the Warden Mr Boobbyer when he worked at Tiger Kloof School. She assisted in the All-Ireland Head Prefects’ Conference training on Friday, and then on Saturday morning spoke powerfully about her own story. Her address follows below:-

“It is such an honour and privilege to serve and inspire leaders and history makers of tomorrow.

My name is Malebogo Modise and I am in the process of redefining myself. I am from a secluded village in South Africa where dreams are known to die or simply not exist. I am from a privileged but yet fully dysfunctional home, a home that sees it okay to insult and dehumanise people, more especially if they are children. I don’t have parents, I never have.  I went to a very prestigious school that produced world leaders like the late and former President of Botswana, Sir Quett Masire. I started primary school in Tiger Kloof and completed High School. I believe that makes me quite a special alumna.

I have had quite an interesting life, mainly because of the experiences I have had. For 20 years I have cried tears that could last an average human-being a lifetime. Here’s why:

  • My mother abandoned me when I was two years old and throughout my childhood I was always reminded that the reason she left me was purely because she wanted nothing to do me.
  • I was under the care of my father (traditional and wealthy man) who believed that raising a child was paying someone else to do the job.
  • I moved from 5 to 6 homes for a variety of reason and being the observant child that I was, I knew it to be because no one wanted to carry a burden that’s not theirs.
  • I made mistakes and with came the talks where my father expressed how useless I am. My mistakes would sometimes result to me not having school supplies or clothes.
  • My father stopped my school fees because I chose not do science.
  • My father disowned me when I was 15 for simply not apologising for something I didn’t do. It was quite an eventful night I must say. That was the night where I was told of how I would never amount to anything, how life has nothing in store of me among many other things.
  • My sister took me in and I lived with her family for the remainder of my High School career.
  • Being made aware of my situation, my former Headmaster, Mr Boobbyer, ensured that my education was not compromised. I was awarded a bursary that covered my tuition and boarding fees for three years.

I could have been homeless and I could have not had the opportunity to complete school if it had not been for the people that stepped in and saw me worthy of being given a chance. That is how I got to be the person I am today. Because I had practically lost everything, and I took it upon myself to fully gain something that one could ever take away from me, my education. I made that decision and I committed to it. If anything, I was quite aggressive and protective when it came to my learning because it was the only thing that I could ever say was mine.

Within those last three years I excelled academically, and I was elected for various leadership positions. I was honoured with opportunities to represent the school both nationally and globally.

All of that came to be because of the people, the teachers and institutions that believed in me when there was not much to believe in and more importantly when I didn’t believe myself. Tiger Kloof consists of individuals that encourage young people to trust themselves enough to have a dream and live it. Tiger Kloof is a Christian school and what makes it stand out is that it gives its students and community the exceptional gift of getting to know the Lord Jesus. And that is what I did. That is how I got to know myself, my worth and my purpose. That is how I became bold and brave enough to chase after dreams and opportunities my father said I would never get.

I am now a student at the University of Buckingham and I am one of the first recipients of both the tuition and living scholarship. I am doing a Bsc Honours Psychology degree. I chose to study this because I find it to be a powerful educational tool where one is granted the chance to understand human behaviour and in the process, themselves.

I am studying psychology in order to break down the societal principle that we as human beings must just survive and measure our strength according to the painful situations we have found ourselves in. I dream of a world where we can confidently turn away from a lack of self-worth regardless of past disadvantages. I am working towards becoming a political psychologist and life coach mainly because the political state of my country is in shambles and because I want the political sector to serve their citizens by first understanding what they need and deserve as individuals. That is my purpose. A purpose that can successfully be fulfilled through education.

The chance to learn and develop socially, emotionally and academically is a privilege each student in Tiger Kloof is given. But what is the point of having opportunities when students there have broken prospects of their own futures and their ability to succeed in anything because of homes and environments that completely destroy their sense of self-worth. Issues such as domestic and emotional abuse, poverty are often the sad reality that many of us students in Tiger Kloof have to face outside of the classroom. And because in collectivist culture such as ours, we kids are taught to merely survive rather than heal. But here is some questions: how does a young girl survive rape? How does a young boy survive drug addiction and abuse? How is it absurdly expected for a young person to survive and try make something of themselves when no one has showed them how to do so?

Tiger Kloof is situated just outside a broken township where domestic violence and drug abuse are rife, understandably so because that’s how (according to them) you survive life.  In such a circumstance, a broken child, a rape victim has to set aside their bad reality and go to school, that’s where they find their peace. School was and still is an escape for many students back at home like myself and you will find that students recognize academic excellence as their only strength, the only thing they believe is their right.

That’s the beauty and wonder of education; it sets you apart, challenges you and makes you see yourself beyond your hurt, your struggle and your condition. Most importantly education is the greatest tool we as students have been given to serve those who are in desperate to see themselves outside of poverty and lack. It is not easily accessible to many young people across the globe and sadly enough it is not used to overcome socio-economic issues that tear young people apart. That is the reality. That is the situation back at home and that is the challenge each of you see in different communities.

The world currently needs a lot of things. But most importantly it needs for the young people have been blessed enough to be educated to use it to radically transform themselves and the world around them.

All of you seated here are so blessed to be equipped with the tools that will lead you exactly where you want to go. But what a lot of people fail to understand about education is that it’s a service. A service to yourself and the world you in live. We live to serve and we learn to serve people and to pursue a purpose that is bigger than ourselves.

How are you using your gift of education and how do you intend on using it? Are you fulfilling the responsibilities that come with it?

I urge you to discover your purpose and serve through your right of education because knowledge can only be of value when used to change a situation, more so another person’s life.

For those of you that will be making their way to Tiger Kloof, go there with an open-mind and open-heart that is ready to serve, experience and grow. It is a beautiful place that is made up of young people like yourself that are finding it hard to dream and believe in themselves. It is a sanctuary where people like you are needed. Essentially what I am saying is, get ready to change someone’s life just by simply being there and experiencing it.

Thank you.”



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