Photo Credit: Jeppe High School for Boys

Dr Taban is one of South Africa’s leading experts in Pulmonology, but life started out very different; Jeppe gave him a second chance in his education, and he returned to give the 2021 valedictory guest speech.


Johannesburg, South Africa (26 October 2021) – At the start of the year, the greater public would learn about Dr Emmanuel Taban’s harrowing start in life before becoming one of South Africa’s leading experts in Pulmonology. What many may not have known, it was a second chance at Jeppe High School for Boys that really inspired him to go on and do great things!

Earlier this year, Dr Taban was featured on Carte Blanch; he shared how he was born in South Sudan, where he escaped torture as a teen and made his way to South Africa to become a refugee.

Born in a tiny village in South Sudan, Dr Taban was one of five siblings raised by a single mother. At 14, he was arrested by the Military for being a rebel-spy, incarcerated, tortured and sent off to Khartoum. He fled to Eritrea, where he was again imprisoned. Upon his release, he decided to walk nearly 3000km to an uncle in Nairobi, Kenya, but he wasn’t welcomed – so, inspired by the “made in South Africa” printing on a cola can, he travelled another 3000 km through East Africa on his own and eventually into South Africa.

Once in South Africa, he was taken in by the Catholic Church in Johannesburg. Speaking very little English, he barely scraped through school. He made his way to Jeppe School for Boys and tried his luck. Thankfully, the then deputy headmaster, Mr Peter Ross, persuaded Mr Tait to let him repeat matric at the school.

It was the second chance Dr Taban needed to become the man he is today! The school invited Dr Taban to be their guest speaker for the class of 2021 valedictory.

“We were honoured to have him speak at our Valedictory Ceremony last week and he used the lessons that emerged from his own life story to inspire the class of 2021 as they set out on their own post-school life journeys.”

The school shared some of the key points from Dr Taban’s speech, and it is truly inspiring! Take a look below.

“Failure is a triumph,” he began, and then went on to explain that no-one has experienced more failures than he has, and yet he triumphed in the end and finds himself where he is today.

“I was a refugee street kid with nothing in the world and nowhere to go, which may not seem relevant to you,” he told the matrics.

“But I had the freedom to choose what my next step would be and I chose to be the master of my destiny. In the same way, you are leaving matric and will be celebrating your freedom. The greatest freedom you have is the ability to choose your next step and to build your own future.”

Dr Taban shared a piece of advice he got from Father Joe Sandri, the priest who became a father figure to him during his time with the Catholic Church of Johannesburg.

“I was already a doctor, in practice, when I felt I could no longer handle the obstacles that were placed in my path and I wanted to give it all up,” he explained. “Father Sandri told me to watch a horse race, and to observe the winning horse. It never looks from side to side, it’s focus is entirely on the finish of the race.”

Dr Emmanuel Taban’s message is clear that the class of 2021 must make their own choices, to care for their own wellbeing first and foremost and never to take their eyes off their goals. Advice we can all draw from too!

Sources: Facebook
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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