Moved to respond in person to a letter from a ‘gracious young lady’, President Cyril Ramaphosa paid her school a visit where he held a Q&A session
When a young East London girl wrote a colourful letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, asking if little girls could become presidents, the last thing she expected was for him to reply to her letter, let alone pay her school a visit.
On Friday, eight-year-old Daisy Ngedle was the toast of her school, Clarendon Preparatory School, when Ramaphosa paid them a visit.
The president was in East London to launch the Good Green Deeds Programme, which encourages people to take care of the environment and promotes cleanliness in their communities.
He used the opportunity to visit the school and meet Ngedle in person.
It was all joy and smiles when Ramaphosa met Ngedle and her Grade 3 classmates on a rainy day in East London, where he was welcomed by the girls with a round of applause.
Grade 3 learners were happy to see the president
A smiling Ngedle, seated at the front of the class, could not hide her excitement.
The president, who was on a charm offensive, told the young girls that he was happy to be at their school and joked that he, too, wanted to enrol at the school, to the girls’ amusement.
Ramaphosa then asked the rest of the girls to ask him questions and proceeded to respond to each of them.
The president encouraged the girls to work hard and do their school work.
“You all wrote letters and one went through, and we responded to Daisy’s letter. It was wonderful to read Daisy’s letter and that is what has brought us here today,” he said.
Ngedle’s letter caught Ramaphosa’s attention when she asked him a number of questions, including the following: “Can girls be presidents?”, “How hard is it to rule the world?” and “Were you friends with Nelson Mandela?”
Ramaphosa responded by telling the pupils: “Girls can be anything they want in the world today. They can be teachers or scientists or astronauts – and to answer your question, yes, they can be presidents too.”
During an interview at the school on Thursday, Ngedle said she was inspired by Ramaphosa to become a president one day.
“I want to become a president because being a president shows that you care and it is interesting. I only realised that I wanted to be president at the beginning of last year,” she said.
“It was when I heard that Cyril Ramaphosa was president that I started developing an interest. I have watched some of his videos. He has inspired me to be a president too,” said a joyful Ngedle as she constantly looked at her mother – Zenande, sitting across the table – with a cute little smile on her face.
Ngedle said this all started as part of a school project last year, when she was in Grade 2. The class had to write a letter to the president.
Her mother then posted the letter she had written on social media.
Her heart-warming letter went viral and was shared until it reached the president’s office.
“After the letter was shared on Facebook, it somehow reached the president,” said Ngedle.
“I felt excited and I felt happy that the president responded. I did not expect that.”
The girls initially thought that they would interact with the president via a Skype call, and Ngedle said she was looking forward to asking him in person all the questions she wrote in her letter.
“I want to ask him how many votes he needs for him to win the elections. And these questions: How old must you be to be a president? How many children does he have? Where does he live in Johannesburg?” she said.
Ngedle could well be on her way to realise her dream – she loves school and enjoys maths, swimming, netball and tennis.
She is also a people’s person, judging by the number of her friends. “She has close to 20 friends,” said her mother.
It was also no coincidence that the letter to Ramaphosa was decorated in bright colours. Pink, red, orange and yellow are, after all, her favourite colours.
Zenande, 30, a town planner for the Eastern Cape province who works for the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs in Bhisho, said her daughter was energetic and inquisitive.
“She always wants to know about things and about what is going on. She has an opinion about anything and everything, and she loves doing new things,” said Zenande.
The little girl has been paying a great deal of attention to the Parliament TV channel, watching the debates in the House.
When asked what her reasons were for asking Ramaphosa about whether he was friends with Mandela, Ngedle said: “This question was important to me because they are both [Ramaphosa and Mandela] great presidents, and I wasn’t sure that they were friends.”
Ramaphosa confirmed that he and Madiba were indeed friends.
“Yes, he was a friend, a father and a teacher to me and to many other people,” he told the girls.
“Do you know how much he loved children? Children are our greatest treasure – they are our future,” he added.
The president also told Ngedle that Madiba would have loved to have met a young lady as gracious as her.