Long, long time ago in South Africa on July 8th, 1690, a newborn baby boy was born in a small village named Kazita. That was me; my name is Jovanni Kenwood. I am the baby of the family. I have three sisters (Anya, Carla, Dana) and three brothers (Benni, Frankie, Henry). My mother almost lost her life when she gave birth to me. Luckily, she has a good friend who was a doctor of the village to take care of her. We call her Dr. Wise as she is the most knowledgeable person in the village. Although we live in a small village in South Africa, English was our official language there. That helped me a lot when I moved to the United States later on.
Anya, my eldest sister, was already 11 years old when I was born. She is our second Mom in the house. When our mother was not home, Anya took care of us like a mother. We all respect her like a mother role, too. Benni, my eldest brother, was 10 years old when I was born. He is our Dad in the house. He taught us boys how to become responsible men in the house. Our Dad was not always home, so Benni was our Dad when he was not around. Carla was 8 years old and Dana was 7 years old when I was born. Although they were not the eldest, they help Anya out with chores and other household-related jobs. They even helped cooking for the family, too. Frankie was 5 year old and Henry was 3 years old when I was born. Frankie was older, so he helped Benni and took care of Henry as well. My Mom had to take care of her own health after giving birth of me, plus took care of me.
1690 was not a peaceful year in South Africa. To avoid sending all seven of us to become slaves and get separated with all the brothers and sisters, my parents decided to send us all to the United States in South Carolina when I was about ten years old in 1700. They found Uncle Davidson, who was our Dad’s best buddy, to help us. In 1690, many slaves in Stellerbosch tried to go against their owners, but it did not work.1 Lives in slavery became worse. We had to get out of there immediately. Finally, Uncle Davidson got us tickets to take the ship to South Carolina. Although I was already ten years old, this was still worrisome to me.
We packed our bags that night and went to the dock in groups of three. We met up at the dock with Uncle Davidson. He got us on the ship and settled us down in three rooms. All the boys including myself were in one room; the girls are in another room; my parents were in the third room. It was then that I found out Uncle Davidson was part of the ship crew, so he has his own place to rest. “You can relax and assure for your arrival to South Carolina with me,” Uncle Davidson told me before he left us in our room.
“We have arrived?” I asked my Mom in doubt. “Yes, my dear! I supposed so,” she replied. “We are here in South Carolina in a town called Charleston. Do not get too excited. We have a long way to go,” Uncle Davidson replied. Then, a few days after we arrived, a hurricane struck Charleston with 98 dead. 2 Luckily, our family hid in the basement that Uncle Davidson arranged. All nine of us and Uncle Davidson have survived.
For the next ten years when we were in South Carolina, our family has lots of changes. Our parents passed away after working too hard to earn a living for the family. The rest of us lived together until Anya, Carla, Dana got married and moved out. Benni and Frankie went to the military school and became Sergeants. Henry and I began working at a school as the assistant teachers for Uncle Davidson. He resigned to become a teacher for the school. He also wanted to take care of all of us for our parents since they were gone. Uncle Davidson has been our Godfather since we have known him. He got married and has kids, too. His wife became our Godmother as well. I lived with them like a family until I met my wife, Daisy, and we moved to a house next door.
I met Daisy at the school that we worked with Uncle Davidson. I did not have a chance to study much and Daisy was tutoring me when I tried to complete my college study. She is a knowledgeable and kind lady. We fell in love in 1723 and got married in 1728. Her family likes me very much and we decided to live in a house next to Uncle Davidson’s family, so we can take care of one another. We had two kids few years later – our son, Samuel, and our daughter, Janice.
I became a Veteran teacher at that school with Daisy. Samuel and Janice went to our school since they were in pre-K. Uncle Davidson became the principal of that school and nominated me to become the Assistant Principal five years later in 1735. Although I was already 45 years old, I still felt young and strong to take the meaningful job as the Assistant Principal of the school. That school was renaming The New Learning School. Our vision was to accept all students from anywhere in the world to come and learn. We even helped those who were slaves to become new learners at our school.
Until now, our school has helped so many students, including slaves from Africa. I became the Principal of The New Learning School after Uncle Davidson retired in 1740. Samuel and Janice have become teachers of our school since 1755. Now that I am 65 years old, retired; Samuel has become the Principal and Janice became the Assistant Principal of our school. With the same vision in mind, The New Learning School continues to serve all students who want to learn. I became the Consultant of the school and enjoy my retiring life with Daisy.
- SAHO. “General South African History Timeline: 1600s.” South African History Online, 10 November 2015. Retrieved from http://www.sahistory.org.za/article/1600s on 22 June 2016.
- WorldAtlas. “South Carolina.” worldatlas.com, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/namerica/usstates/sctimeln.htm on 22 June 2016.