By Mathews Nthinya
Thirty-three years after matriculating from St Andrews College and Diocesan School for Girls (DSG), Sazi Matama and Judith Middleton handed over 64 matric dance dresses to Nathaniel Nyaluza Secondary School grade 12 learners for their matric dance.
Matama began the initiative during his sanitary pad drive for school, which helped female learners stay in school by providing them with sanitary pads. During his visit, he noticed the need for matric dance dresses at Nathaniel Nyaluza Secondary School and decided to take action. Realising that he couldn’t do it alone, he reached out to Middleton, who also matriculated from DSG in 1990.
“I wanted to make their matriculation experience unforgettable, and with the help of our amazing community, we’ve achieved just that,” Matama said. This act of generosity was driven by a recognition of the financial challenges many students face and a determination to make their matriculation experience unforgettable.
Despite 33 years of geographical separation and keeping in touch through social media, Middleton reached out to their classmates to secure dresses from various corners of the country, including Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, and even as far as Switzerland and Namibia.
Their shared endeavour was also inspired by the memory of their late classmate, Kuli Roberts, who was an actress, celebrity and author, and who passed away unexpectedly last year. “Kuli Roberts would be proud of our community’s response. It’s a reminder that friendship can overcome any obstacle when driven by a shared cause,” said Middleton.
She adds that the values instilled during her eight years at DSG, particularly a sense of community, had profoundly shaped her perspective. She emphasised the importance of community support and the hope it provides during challenging times.
Matama and Middleton collected over 50 dresses in just three weeks, coordinating deliveries from across South Africa and beyond. The dresses were officially handed over to the Nathaniel Nyaluza matric learners on Monday, 25 September 2023.
Speaking to Grocott’s Mail, Nathaniel Nyaluza High School principal Mzwandile Kleyi said that the initiative was necessary for his students because the farewell is part of their holistic development as there would be various guest speakers at the farewell who would motivate and encourage the learners for their future endeavours.
Kleyi added that the matric dance was initially planned for 4 August but had to be postponed because only 10 out of the 66 matriculants could attend the dance. This is due to various financial constraints. The students need help paying the R350 for food and transport.
Kleyi said that he would welcome donations for students who could not afford to go to the matric farewell. He added that he was grateful for the assistance he had received so far. “Our students’ dreams are worth supporting. I’m grateful to Matama and Middleton for helping us ensure that every student can attend the matric dance,” said Kleyi.
When asked about the dress donations, grade 12 learner Simamkele Jamela said, “Receiving this matric dress is a dream come true. I hope other students find strength in our story and know that dreams can become a reality.”
Another grade 12 learner, Alutha Dyongman, expressed excitement about receiving a pink dress. “I feel like a princess in this pink dress. It’s a reminder that kindness knows no bounds, and I’m inspired to spread that kindness to others”, said Dyongman.
Middleton adds that for a town like Makhanda, it is up to each individual to make a difference. To sustain the project, Middleton and Matama hope to work with Serelda Caiger, who has her own Matric dance dress initiative that has assisted learners with their matric farewell dresses over the years.