Passion for people
Liso Ngoqo wants to use the opportunities afforded to him to serve the poor. The Grade 11 Hilton College learner is considering studying economics with a view to a career in politics. With a mom who lectures IT at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth and a father who runs a construction company, Liso comes from an entrepreneurial family, where the values of hard work and a good education are prized.
“When I was six years old, I got my first big opportunity, which was to go to Stirling Primary School [state school] in East London. As a child you don’t understand these things, but I went to Stirling from Grade R to Grade 5. Then one night my mom sat me down and said, ‘I think you need to move to Cowan House [an independent school in Hilton].’ At first, I was hesitant, because I didn’t know about these types of schools and had never been to KwaZulu-Natal. But when I got to Cowan House everyone was so welcoming. I started to realise the opportunities that lay ahead. I was at Cowan House for two years, before coming to Hilton College.
“At Hilton, I realized my passion for politics. I want to become a politician to help people. Many of our politicians have let the electorate down by serving their own interests. I know a lot of people who are bound by the shackles of poverty. I remember my interview with [Hilton College headmaster] Mr [George] Harris when I was in Grade 7. He said, ‘If opportunity is not used to benefit others, then opportunity is wasted.’ That has stuck with me. When you enter a space like this, as a child who has seen both extremes of life, you appreciate your privilege.
“Quite a lot of people in my family are poverty-stricken and I think about the things they appreciate, like going to the beach. They’re from King Williams Town and they just enjoy the simple things in life. It’s a humbling thing, to see that side of life and then to walk into a space like this… where there are people with a big safety net under them, [to catch them] if they don’t succeed here. I’m grateful I don’t have that luxury. I have to give my all to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”