Oh, the Joy of it All

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Friday, 22nd January 2016

The Christmas holidays seem far away and the New Year is already three weeks old! Please can someone tell me where times goes? After the usual post-festivities lull, the pedagogic paradise that is Grahamstown is back in full swing! It’s back to school! Education, heritage and unspoilt natural beauty are the lifeblood of our small city. Being an educational centre gives a special touch to the atmosphere and I still experience a thrill when the streets are alive with little people and teenagers in school uniform. Our precious future.

It is delightful when learners one passes on the pavement say politely, “Good afternoon ma’am.” Manners maketh man. Congratulations to the teachers in our many, diverse schools who instil basic courtesy into their charges in this day and age. There is a great deal to be said for chivalry and would that some adults follow the example of our respectful schoolchildren! May our youth retain their etiquette after graduating from high school!

February will see the flood of students arriving for the new academic year at Rhodes University. Bright and beautiful young people literally from all over the world, but primarily from South Africa and elsewhere in Africa. Rhodes University is a highly respected tertiary institute that also enjoys a reputation for research in several disciplines. Hence there is both a thriving community of both under-graduates and post graduates, who contribute to the unique character of Grahamstown.

Estate agents are working overtime to see that student digs are in order, the many residences on campus are preparing for the first semester. Accommodation is at a very high premium. Whilst Rhodes is essentially a residential university, it also has a large oppidani sector, much to the financial pleasure of various property owners. Residential properties are sound investments to put it mildly. Everyone needs a home, no less so students.  Ordinary working tenants find this irksome, as rents tend to be much higher than any other South African towns and cities of this size.

Orientation or “O” week is vibrant, hectic and lucrative for many local businesses. The Rat and Parrot, Champs, Slipstream and are student pubs and do a roaring trade as the freshmen and freshettes experience the thrills and spills of being away from home for the first time. The Rat and Parrot has the highest consumption of a certain draught beer in the whole of South Africa! National Breweries know all about Rhodians capacity to imbibe alcohol.

The hospitality industry benefits enormously since many parents accompany their offspring to see that they are settled comfortably in either their residential halls or digs. Hotels, Beds and Breakfasts and restaurants are fully booked. “O” Week is on a par with Graduation Week as the cash flows. Good profits are synonymous with jubilation universally and happiness is contagious. We have clean air here and one of the main reasons for this is our function as an educational mecca. It is actually why we love living here! 

Article by KJ Guteridge