Edwin Nkosapantsi has come a long way since setting out to search for his father. Today, he looks back on a career that has touched thousands of learners’ lives through the Ikateleng project.
Edwin’s mother had passed away the previous year and he had just completed the equivalent of today’s Grade 8. Obeying his grandfather’s instruction to find the father he had never known, Edwin boarded the train at Kokstad in the Eastern Cape and off to the mines in Benoni he went.
Today, the 73-year old can look back on a career that has touched, inspired and educated countless lives.
He found his father and through hard work and dedication, forged an exceptional career at the NWU’s Marketing and Student Recruitment division, where he is a student recruiter and oversees Ikateleng, a youth educational and upliftment programme.
Along the way
Previously, Edwin worked for various other employers, including Modderbee Correctional Services, SA Land Mines in Brakpan, Iscor and the South African Development Council. Wherever he went, Edwin kept honing his skills as an educator – which he has always seen as his vocation.
Along the way, he faced some daunting challenges. While at the Development Council, where his job was to educate council members in rural Western Transvaal, he received death threats in Zeerust and had to address angry crowds – some armed with iron pipes – while trying to convey the then government’s messages.
In 1993, Chris Windell, director at Public Relations at the then Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education, appointed Edwin as a recruiter and facilitator in that department.
“When I look back at my career, I am so proud of the way we helped the university grow. We recruited thousands of African students. We managed to increase the number of students at the Vaal Triangle Campus from fewer than 1 000 students to more than 7 000,” he says.
“I have so many fond memories. I remember not too long ago visiting a school in Springs and a teacher came running up to me and just hugged me. That is the nicest feeling in the whole world.”
He is worried, however: “Our youth have become too dependent. They believe more in promises made by politicians and less in their own initiative. Our country will be in a much better place if they believe more in themselves.”
He remains unwavering in trying to motivate young people. He spends his weekends in communities where he delivers motivational lectures and gives career guidance.
This is more than his occupation. Since he left the borders of the Eastern Cape all those years ago with the money from the sale of the ox in his pocket, working with and teaching the youth has been his calling.
Edwin’s search for his father leads to the NWU family
It is 1957 and Edwin Nkosapantsi is 12 years old. His grandfather has just sold his last ox and, handing Edwin the money he received, says:
“Go and find your father.”