Crestway High School commemorates first principal

Professor Yusuf Da Costa.

The Crestway High School community are mourning the loss of professor and sheikh Yusuf Da Costa who died at his Kensington home on Monday December 3, at the age of 83.

Professor Da Costa was the first principal of Crestway High School.

He was remembered as a great academic leader who had touched many lives.

Professor Da Costa was renowned as a talented Islamic scholar and educator. He also taught at Salt River Muslim School and Livingstone High School.

Under his leadership, Crestway become one of the only so-called coloured schools that offered the Xhosa language as a subject.

Crestway High School retired teacher, Mogamad Abrahams, said he received his first post as a teacher while Professor Da Costa was the principal and he felt privileged to have served under him in 1976.

Mr Abrahams said Professor Da Costa was a role model, a father figure as well as a disciplinarian.

“He was strict but he made a huge contribution to the school and the community.”

Mr Abrahams said Professor Da Costa opened the school to black pupils and introduced Xhosa as a language. “Education was important to him and he made an impression on pupils of all areas. Many pupils under his reign came back to Crestway as teachers.”

Mr Abrahams said Professor Da Costa left Crestway in the 1980s when he got ill and after he recovered he took a post at the University of the Western Cape.

Professor Da Costa completed his doctorate in geography and retired as Associate-Professor and Head of the Department of Didactics at UWC.

Together with the late Cape Muslim historian, Dr Achmat Davids, Professor Da Costa, published a ground-breaking book, Pages from Cape Muslim History (Shuter & Shooter, 1994).

Crestway teacher Ashley Jaftha wasapupil attheschoolwhen Professor DaCostawasprinci-
pal.

“I remember him as being a hands-on person. He used to show interest in the children’s parents and although he was an accommodating community person, he did not compromise on education.”