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Jabulani Kunene

True as steel

Jabulani Kunene

Serene, steady, and true as steel. That’s Jabulani Kunene, who has worked as a lab technician in the science department at Hilton College since 1978.

“It has been my only job, and I’ve stayed because I love it,” he says.

Born in the Hilton Valley, Jabulani was 16 when he started working at Hilton College, following in the footsteps of his parents, John and Alice, who worked in the laundry.

All three of his siblings have also worked at Hilton College. Jabulani’s brother Elson worked in the dining hall up until he retired, and his sister Albertina does domestic work for families who live on campus. Their brother Samwell worked on campus for Broll before he died. His great nephew Ayanda Kunene starts at Hilton College as a Grade 8 next year.

Before taking occupation of his house in Howick West, Jabulani loved that he could walk from the valley to work. He says perks of the job include staff lunches, transport to and from work, and best of all, friendship with the boys.

He’s especially fond of watching them play rugby and has been known to bet on our First XV when they play Michaelhouse.

“I have a friend who works in the science lab at MHS and his name is Jabulani too. We take bets [who will win the rugby] and have lunch together when we play there. I can’t remember who has won more money because we’re friends,” he says, laughing.

Describing himself as “a good supporter”, he watches our boys train in the afternoons and has travelled to Durban three times to watch the Sharks play.

In three years, Jabulani will retire after 47 years of service.

“I have smelled chemicals for very long. I look forward to smelling the fresh air,” he says, chortling.

In retirement, he plans to start a business, farming chickens on a small scale “for my family and to keep myself busy”.

His family includes his son who lives in the Eastern Cape, and his wife Nthombi.

“I will miss the boys,” says Jabulani. “They are like friends. That’s why when they play rugby, I follow them. I will always support them.”

If he had advice for the boys, he says it would be: “Look after your job. Do the right thing. And respect one another.”