Aviwe Blackbeard comes off as a confident yet humble young man. If you walked past him, you probably wouldn’t guess that he had achieved the third best marks in the country for mathematics and physical science in 2015.
Being a boarding student at the historical St John’s College in Mthatha taught Blackbeard discipline and helped him attain his goal of achieving top marks for his final matric exams, but he did not believe he was among the country’s best until he arrived in Johannesburg, where Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was hosting the 21 top performing pupils from across the country.
“It felt great because I didn’t expect this, so I was just over-excited.”
He got the news at the weekend while playing PlayStation with his friends in his hometown of Flagstaff, he said.
“Then I had to rush home and tell them I was invited to the national awards.
“My mom screamed when I told her, and my sister was like ‘haaaa mtasekhaya, that’s great!’ That was the best moment,” he said with a smile.
Blackbeard’s father died when he was 11. Since then, his mother raised his older sister who is currently studying at the University of Witwatersrand, himself and his younger brother who is still in primary school.
He plans to study Actuarial Science at Wits and praised his mathematics teacher for being one of his biggest motivators.
“My mathematics teacher Mr Nkondeka has been very kind to me, he believed in me a lot, even during difficult times he would encourage me and tell me I can make it and that I have to keep it up.
“He was the first teacher I called after I received the call from the principal. He just said “I knew my boy that you were going to make it to the nationals, you’re not provincial material.”
Principal Zolisa Magaqa described Blackbeard as a kind-hearted boy who was always ready to help others.
“He has been one of our tutors, assisting others with what he knows, he can explain well to others,” Magaqa said.
“He is amongst the best in mathematics and physical science. He is very down to earth; he can explain and can talk to you in a way that makes you understand. That’s the type of a person he is.”
Magaqa said the culture at the school was that of a family, so teachers saw students as their children and the learners always felt free to come to them with any problems they were facing.
Blackbeard said he hoped to one day “make a lot of money” so that he can enjoy the good life.