In all of Knysna’s history, few people can have served their community with the devotion that Percy Mdala did.
Percy Mdala came here in 1956 to work for Bishop Stainton, who was then Rector of St George’s. He taught at St. Paul’s Caradoc, which was housed in the church hall at Salt River. When Mdala arrived there, the school had about 25 pupils, and was supported financially by the Anglican Church. It received no funding from the Government’s Education Department. Mdala and his colleague, a Mr Ganga, started a programme of house visits in the area to encourage children to attend the school. They were so successful that two more assistant teachers were appointed to serve the growing numbers of pupils.
On rainy days, the Salt River flowed so strongly that children could not cross it to come to school. Percy Mdala would go down to the river and carry the pupils across, one or two at a time. At the end of the school day, he would carry them back again so that they could make their way safely home.
The school received much support from Mr & Mrs. JDM Philip, and became known as “Philips Lower Primary School’. It was finally recognised for a subsidy from the Government. The sad irony was, however, that forced removals soon affected the population of Salt River to the extent that the school had to be closed down because all of its pupils had been taken away from the area.
A new school was started in Thembelitsha in 1971. Mdala was its first principal, but he resigned within the first year of its opening (he had, for many years, been the only properly trained black educationalist in Knysna).
After his retirement, Mdala remained active in the fight for black education. His memory was honoured by naming our high school, which opened in 1992, Percy Mdala High School.
Percy Mdala High School is in Sigcu Street in Khayalethu. Turn off the N2 at Nekkies (on your way from Knysna to Plett). Turn left into Chungwa Street. A little over 1km further you will see the Percy Mdala School (a three-storey brick structure) coming up on your right. Turn right, then left to get to the main entrance.
- Tel: 044 375 0020
- Fax: 044 375 0191
- Sigcu St., Khayalethu, Knysna