It is with a deep sense of sadness that we have learnt of the passing of Ms Christina Gwavu, who died peacefully in Johannesburg on Monday 21 February 2022. She was with her daughter at the time of her passing.
Ms. Christina Gwavu came to Bishops to teach isiXhosa. This was in 1980. She took over as the Head of Department from Mr. Hertzog Jimba who had blazed the trail by establishing the department five years prior. Ms. Gwavu spent twenty years teaching at Bishops. She retired in 2000. After her retirement from teaching at Bishops, Ms Gwavu kept in touch with what was happening here at school, and still visited until before Covid-19.
Mr. Michael King the Acting Principal, paying tribute to her said at the end-of-the-year Speech Day ceremony:
Christina Gwavu has been teaching isiXhosa at Bishops for twenty years, and under her, the subject has had a solid grounding and a steady stream of good Matric results. For many years, one of the highlights of the year was the Xhosa concert. She has imparted to the school not only her teaching skills, but also knowledge of Xhosa culture and customs, and we are the richer for that.
The following was the tribute written for Ms. Gwavu, by Mr. Michael King, in the September 2000 ‘The Diocesan College Magazine’.
When Christina Gwavu indicated to me that she wanted to take retirement from the end of this year, I was very conscious of the ending of a quiet but significant presence in the school. IsiXhosa was introduced into our curriculum in 1975 and its first teacher was Mr Hertzog Jimba. He served five years and then Christina was appointed in 1980. Before this, Christina had been teaching at Langa High, having completed her studies at Rhodes University. She has been a pioneer in bringing isiXhosa to Bishops, teaching the language and its background here at Bishops since then, and she has taught it as a 1st Language, a 2nd language, and a 3rd language. She has laid the foundations for the study of isiXhosa, and year by year has produced excellent results in the matric exams. During these years, the Hamilton Mvelase Bursary scheme was bringing up to 35 boys a year into the school from disadvantaged schools, and many of these boys (whose mother tongue it was) took isiXhosa and benefited from Christina's firm and thorough knowledge of the language. For many years, the annual Xhosa Concert which she organised was a big moment in the lives of the participating boys both mother-tongue and non-mother-tongue speakers. During this time, there have been significant shifts in attitudes towards the language and changes also to the place of the language in the schools' curriculum, especially in the last few years. Christina has an excellent reputation for her expertise and knowledge of the language. She has assisted with the compilation of at least one textbook on isiXhosa teaching and has been an advisor in a number of other projects where her expertise has been invaluable. She has given twenty years of service to the school, in an area that has not been a high-profile part of the curriculum, but one which will become more significant in the near future. We wish her well in the months and years to come and hope that she will find enjoyment and fulfillment in the various activities that she will be undertaking.
Ms Gwavu leaves behind her daughter Dr. Nomfundo Gwavu, son-in-law, Sisa Mtwa, two grandchildren, Lwazi and Khanya and two great- grandchildren, Lumka and Liyana, and her nephew Mr. Mzimasi Gwavu.
May Her Dear Soul Rest in Peace.
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