On Wednesday, Durban High School hosted Dr José Luis Carneiro, Secretary of State for The Portuguese Communities, Dr and Mrs Francisco Xavier de Meireles, Consul General for Portugal in Johannesburg, Mr Elias de Sousa, Honorary Consul for Portugal in Durban. The purpose of the visit was to lay a wreath at the bust of Fernando Pessoa and to honour Durban High School.
Mr Oddy took the entourage on a tour of the campus showing off all the artefacts, photos, school records and reports that Durban High School has been custodians of. Mr Liebenberg, from the SABC, was on hand to conduct interviews with the dignitaries which will be broadcast on various radio stations.
Pessoa was enrolled at DHS in 1899 as an eleven year old. Under the tutelage of the then Head Master, Mr Nicholas, Pessoa, small of build, sickly and thus reserved, excelled in academics. Pessoa returned to Portugal at 17 and attended the University of Lisbon for a short while before dropping out. He then made a living out of translating, writing reviews for newspapers and drafting business letters in English and French, thereby slipping into a life of obscurity.
Fernando died at the age of 47 and was given a pauper’s burial. When his apartment was cleared out, 25 000 pieces of writing were found in a large trunk. Upon scrutiny it was decided that Pessoa was a literary genius, the second greatest poet of Portugal. All the accolades which Pessoa so justly deserved have been bestowed upon him posthumously.
The Portuguese people hold Durban High School very close to their hearts and when an opportunity arises for them to visit our School it is fervently embraced. It is because of this association with the Portuguese people from all over the world that Durban High School’s name continues to be held up high.
Jeanette du Preez
HOD : History