There was excitement and sadness in the Kannemeyer Primary School hall as they bid farewell to Ridwan Samodien who completed his tenure as principal on his birthday last Tuesday, July 25.
Mr Samodien, 65, planted the seeds of respect, integrity and striving for excellence in the lives of the children when he set foot at Kannemeyer Primary 33 years ago.
His passion was to fight for better education and he had been networking with many organisations to help boost the school.
Forty years ago he started his first teaching position at Salt River Moslem Primary School, and his experience at that school groomed him into the leader he is today.
Guests, speakers, teachers and pupils testified about the positive impact Mr Samodien had on their lives. The pupils read out poems, performed song and dance, and wished him well.
Faldiela Chotia, circuit manager, said: “Forty three years and seven months ago when this young man (Mr Samodien) of 21 years old, entered this noble profession, he did not know that for 21 years he was going to be a teacher and for 22 years and seven months he was going to be a principal. He also did not know that he would be on billboards, on radio, on national television. He did not know that he would be the co-founder of Partners for Possibilities and become a life coach.”
Ms Chothia said Mr Samodien received many nominations for his work as a leader in education, but getting the National Kader Asmal Lifetime Achievement award was the “cherry on top”. “He was such a deserving candidate, just looking at the requirements to receive that award.
“We are all in this room because he (Mr Samodien) clearly impacted our lives.”
Thandi Jafter, circuit manager who worked with Mr Samodien for four years, said: “ I call him my Superman. He has a passion and love for education. ‘Saying what you love and love what we do’, that is how to describe him. He chose the career to be a teacher, and when he became the principal he was still a teacher. ‘If you don’t make a difference, you do not matter.’ And Mr Samodien made a difference. He touched so many lives.”
“I am not always nervous but today I am,” said Mr Samodien when he got on stage.
“All praise to God, I give you back your school. The school you entrusted in my care 23 years ago. I give it back more at peace with itself.”
“And all those who come to grace us with their presence will testify to the amazing energy and spirit of Ubuntu that resides at this school. The school that worked tirelessly to achieve a sense of organisational health. We carry an awareness, a critical role that we as educators/adults play in the lives of our precious gems, our KPS clever kids.
“It has been my greatest joy to work alongside an amazing team as we have marvelled at how the school has grown and how we have been able to enrich and support our resources.
“I want to mention a library, a computer lab, reading adventure room and the most precious gem, the KPS hall of hearts (the school hall).
“I give this school back reluctantly. Having spent 33 years in the narrow confines of these four walls, we have grown close.
“We have become part of each other. And we shall always retain a little of each other.
“But now, we have reached another milestone – my imminent departure.
“I resubmit to you, you guardians of the future of our beloved school children. Continue to care for them for they are precious beyond measure. I shall care for you in my absence and in my prayers. I will always be interested in our school. So, whatever you do and wherever you achieve, your joy and sorrow I will be happy to see. I shall always be part of this educational nest.”