Fikizolo Primary School

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What is now known as Fikizolo Primary School was a result of the Anglican Church missionaries who needed to spread the gospel. These missionaries built a red-brick church, St Philip's Anglican Church, in 1860 as the Grahamstown Mission and twin of St Bartholomew's which can be seen from the western part of town.

The brickwork on the church is in the same style as the poor-houses of St Barts. St Philip's houses a stained-glass baptistry window of a Black Madonna which the church received in 1945, evidence of the emergence of black consciousness in the Anglican Church. This is a sound structure of red brick built in a style resembling that of the Ladies' Cottages at St Bart's.

There is a lot to be said about the role of the parish in regards to education. The first pastor of the church was Rev. William Homan Turpin. He played a big part in making sure his parishers lived close together. So the land belonging to the church just where the Matyana River flows was given to them. It was and still is called Turpin Street. The locals know it affectionately as “eMishini” (the Mission – from ‘mission/missionaries property’)

Considering that Reverent Turpin had limited understanding of isiXhosa, he had to train members of his congregation preaching. To do this, they should be able to read the Bible. The adults were taught the rudiments of the scripture. But to groom the youth, Turpin opened a school in 1860 originally known as St Phillip’s Missionary School. He ran it in addition to his church duties.

This school was operated from his home in the church premises. In 1875, Emma, the daughter of the Chief Sandile, after having been trained at Cape Town was appointed as an assistant teacher. The school was formally established in the year 1886.

In 1921 a structure which was originally the skating rink in High Street was erected at St Philip's as a school. It was divided into five classrooms to accommodate the growing number of learners (300 pupils). Later more buildings were built including a hall which had a piano next to the stage. The buildings included a school and rectory.

There was Sub A and Sub B that acted as the pre-school. When pupils had passed those, they then moved on to Standard 1 and Standard 2. Later on, another school was built for farther education. This one was called Higher Mission (or formally as Andrew Moyakhe Primary School).

Rev. Turpin died in 1908. He had served at St Philip's from 1860 when he started the school. In his memory a magnificent 'calvary' was erected in the church separating the nave and choir. The name of the school was then changed to Fikizolo Primary School.

This was so named because legend has it that the congregation had been promised a priest from England and waited a long time. When he, Reverend Turpin, eventually arrived a welcome ceremony was arranged. He was asked to say a few words he greeted them with: “Ndifik’ izolo” – which meant “I just arrived yesterday”. However, many months later, he was still telling people that “Ndifik’ izolo”, an indication that he was not quite sure of the exact meaning of the phrase. He probably mistook it for part of greeting.

From its early days, the school has always kept it’s informal name of “eTshetshi” (from ‘church school’). It has a rich heritage because it is apparently the very first formal school ever established in Grahamstown East (commonly known as townships). It inspired other denominations (such as Roman, Catholic, Wesley) to open their own schools.

St Philip's Church and the school are both known for their excellent choirs. The school partook in other recreational activities such as ballroom dancing, rugby and athletics. It is reputed to have started the first rugby team in South Africa. They were called the White Roses and used to practice on the open space just below and to the right of the church. That field is still known as “eGreenini”.

It has survived a fire in 1987, during the height of the tumultuous fight against Bantu education which was an apparition of apartheid. It was closed down. When it was reopened the following year, a pre-school was opened by the Centre for Social Development. Mrs Nkopa, the Rector's wife, was its supervisor.

Fikizolo has been led by quite a number of principals (school heads) over the years. Amongst them  we can mention the late Mr Yili, the late Mr Mdana , the late Mrs Boniswa Mjekula, Mr Nozwe Gladys Zondani, Ms Nontsikelelo Marjorie Mkupula, Mr Monde Charlton Dlepu and the current principal, Ms Zoleka Kate.

These days Fikizolo starts from Grade R, the six year olds. It accommodates up to Grade 7, which is supposed to be the thirteen year olds. The school currently has approximately 600 learners, fourteen educators, three grade R practitioners, one administration clerk and two clearners.

The school is very much involved in the extra curricula activities such as traditional dance, soccer, netball, rugby as well as the indegenous games. The school does not have the sport grounds but that does not stop us in doing the sports.

Fikizolo Primary School

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