Education, Feb. 17, 2021, 7:45 a.m.

Education is the conversation between generations.


This week the school starts again. We all know what immense pressure there is on teachers and learners. This means that it is more necessary than ever that we should all understand that we are a vital part of the education of the next generation.

Therefore we wish to thank you for your involvement in our work as MathMoms – you are helping us to keep education at the heart of our community. 


The world we live in is being transformed, rapidly in ways we cannot foresee, this makes it more urgent to equip the next generation to take their place as responsible citizens.

That is what you are doing, and that it why we are excited about the way ahead.


Click on the play button in the photo and celebrate Nanna’s resilience.   





Born in Trawal on the West Coast, Margaret Bantom remembers a no-frills childhood traversed on bare feet. Affectionately known as Nanna, this farm girl enjoyed fifteen innocent years before her beloved gran passed away, catapulting her into Elsies River.

Nanna's night school effort towards Matric was stymied by 1980s Apartheid riots, but she prevailed and worked her way up through factory jobs to become a reservist with the SAPS. However, when her youngest son was arrested for possession of a firearm, Nanna felt she could not do the work with integrity anymore and resigned.

This was the beginning of a steep downward spiral for the Bantom family. Drug pushers were calling and all three Bantom boys buckled under the pressure, stripping Nanna's home to a shell to satisfy their nagging urge. Nanna worked hard at putting the pieces back together and her two eldest boys are doing well now, but this did not shield her from the worst that could happen.

In 2020, Nanna lost her nephew in a gang shooting, followed by the death of her niece and shortly afterwards her sister. When a month later her brother also passed away, she was unable to attend his funeral as she had to identify another juvenile victim of gang violence in the morgue: her youngest son, Ronwyn.

Hunched under a heavy blanket of grief, she withdrew to her cousin's in Vredendal where she finally collapsed. There she dreamt of her boy standing over her bed, saying Mom would be okay. Realising that he would not have wanted this wretchedness for her, she decided to fight her way back to life: "You don't have to lie down; you can if you want to."

With renewed hope, Margaret returned to Elsies River and rejoined the empowering community of women that is MathMoms. She has taken the support she gets here to her neighbourhood, opening her home as a safe place to the youth in her area. But she dreams even bigger: she dreams of owning a house and starting a needlework school in her back yard, keeping kids off the streets and helping to prevent teenage pregnancy through countering idleness.

Nanna's legacy lies in her big heart: "Remember my goodness. I gave to others and I was always there for others."


Story told by Natali Varney-Schutte

Photographer (Lifestyle, Events, Portraits, Documentary) | Freelance Writer & Photojournalist | Educator