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Prepared to set up camp in another land

| November 17, 2017 | 0 Comments


The following speech was delivered on Friday 13 October at the Treverton Preparatory School and College 2017 prize-giving service.

Ladies and gentlemen, members of the board, Mr Montjane from ISASA, Lutho Dabula and especially pupils of Treverton, both past and present. My name is Jacques Wessels. Most of you know me as your head boy, others as a friend and, to a very unfortunate few, family. But in truth, I am simply just a farm boy. Nine years ago, I put on a white shirt, grey shorts and the infamous orange-striped grey Treverton socks. It was difficult to fit in, because no one wanted to speak to the Zambian boy who was always by himself. Everything was very foreign to me. My parents are not here today and that saddens me. They have never watched a single sports match or attended a parent/teacher meeting (which I don’t mind). That is because my parents are the hardest-working people I know,  who have sacrificed so much for me, never knowing if the following school term might be my last. We have been through the toughest of times as a family. It has made me appreciate what I have so much more. Like a car
seat. For the first 15 years of my life, we had a single cab Toyota Pick-up with a canopy. I have travelled from Livingstone, Zambia to Durban, South Africa, four times in the back of that vehicle. I do not know how they keep their heads up after having to sell our family farm for my education. That takes courage. I love them and I am proud of them. And in their absence, I would like to say this: “Mum and Dad, I don’t know where I would be without you, I love you both.” I have learned that good judgement comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgement. It feels like adults always undermine me, but each person has during my life I have had to be an adult. You see, I had my first confrontation with poachers when I was 14 – we exchanged fire and wounded a few. A week later, I recovered a body of a drowned poacher. There is no scent worse than that of a human corpse that has been rotting in stagnant water for three days in the African heat. I can still smell it. During my holidays, I would earn pocket money by keeping vermin out of our crops and servicing old engines. Becoming a man came a lot quicker
than I had anticipated. Something I have noticed in this country is that we have lost our values and our cultures. I always get asked why I’m so proud to be Zambian, and my answer is because Zambians have kept something of value. I may not come from a wealthy family, but I come from a free one. My uncle once told me that “how rich
you are is not how much you have, but how little you need”. Ladies and gentlemen, this farm boy has gone further than anyone had ever expected. How? I simply tried my best. I’ve been told on so many occasions that I’m not good
enough and that I will never be. One turning point was my under-14 rugby season. I was always on the bench and only played two games that year. A season later, I put on the first team jersey, thanks to those who believed in me. That has given me the advantage. I tried, and I am still trying. Dead people receive more flowers than the living. That is because regret is stronger than gratitude. Trying hurts, because those who try hurt more than those who don’t. But that builds the most essential part of a person: character. Someone who tries has the ability to carry on going, even when the odds are not in his favour. A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor, and that is life. My season here is over. I need to go and set up camp in another land. I will never ever forget this place and those who have crossed paths with me. Thank you, Treverton, for being my place of growth and a place to look forward to.

Category: Summer 2017

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