Tribute to e-education hero Mthobeli Tengimfene

It’s been 4 days since the devastating news and I still can’t believe that you are no longer with us.

My heartfelt condolences to your mother, your wife, your beautiful children and your sisters and brothers who will have to sorely miss your love and devotion.

We met in 2004 at the Department of Communications and immediately connected over our shared vision to bridge the digital divide and improve teaching and learning in South Africa’s township and rural schools.

Ever since, you’ve worked hard at realising that vision: strategizing, connecting stakeholders and bringing it to life. Passionate and determined, but also patient and humble. You never claimed the spotlight but created space for others to grow and shine. You are the father of hugely impactful ventures like the Vodacom Mobile Education Programme and the Youth ICT Skills Academy. I’m forever grateful to you for inviting me to walk part of this path with you.

How I will miss your calls: “Nomfundo, we need to have coffee and a chat” about the books we’d read, about the library that you’re building with classmates at your old school in Cofimvaba. About the book you’re writing about your life as activist and freedom fighter and how you want to use an interactive digital platform to publish it so your comrades can contribute their stories.

And about how we need to empower young teachers to digitally educate older generations:
I’m proud to call you the godfather of Flying Cows of Jozi, always available with advice and encouragement.

When I began the fundraiser for our Flying Cows to the Rescue missions in rural areas you were just admitted to the ICU. This month the first rescue mission will go ahead and we will continue the work in your spirit and honour.

You mean so much to so many.

Enkosi kakhulu uButhi wam. Lala ngoxolo.

– Josine Overdevest, 4 July 2021

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