Edition 4: 13 February 2020

The Naming Ceremony of the Helen Joseph Library

Helen Joseph was born Helen Beatrice May Fennell in the United Kingdom. She was a student of English and it was at the University of London in the late 1920s, that she made friends with Dorothy Stubbs, daughter of founding headmaster of Clifton Preparatory School, Harry Stubbs. When Dorothy left her teaching position to get married, Harry Stubbs offered the job to ‘Ms Fennell’, who was on her way back to the United Kingdom after teaching in India. And so from 1930 – 1931, Helen was teacher of the junior boys at Clifton Prep. Helen met local Durban dentist, Billie Joseph, and gave up her teaching career to also get married.

Helen Joseph, however, never became a housewife. During World War 2, she signed up for the Women’s Auxiliary Airforce and after the war she found work in the Garment Workers Union and as a social worker. She was confronted by the injustices of South African life and rebelled – becoming a founder member of the Congress of Democrats, which was a group of white activists who allied with the ANC. She was also National Secretary of the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW) in the 1950s.

She read clauses of the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the People in June 1955 and is probably most famously remembered as a prominent figure and leader in the Women’s March on 9 August 1956.

Unfortunately, through most of the 1960s and 1970s, Helen was terrorized and persecuted by the security police – facing house arrest and assassination attempts. It is sad that she never lived to see democracy in our country but at least she lived to see the release of Nelson Mandela – and when she passed in 1992 – she knew freedom was on the horizon.

A real South African hero.

Helen Joseph’s contribution and legacy are commemorated most notably at Clifton School. In 2017, the College launched the Helen Joseph Oratory Competition between themselves, Durban Girls’ College and Maris Stella. The foundation of this public speaking competition was in the very spirit that motivated Helen – the power of standing up and speaking out!

In 2020, we are further proud to honour her legacy by naming the Clifton Library – the centre of the Preparatory School – after her. Local artist Joan Martin was commissioned by the school to paint a portrait of Helen Joseph. The piece is composed with white acrylic, charcoal and black pencil crayon with Joan’s signature use of an old credit card to add texture. This beautiful piece was unveiled at a naming ceremony in recognition of a courageous and inspirational woman who fought against the iniquities of an unjust regime.

“…One of South Africa’s least likely, but greatest freedom fighters – a woman outside the conscience of the country’s white mainstream but revered, especially by older people, in black townships.”

– from the British Independent

A Message from the Deputy Principal: Marketing


From the Marketing Desk…


Almost every day I take families for tours of the Clifton campus. These walkarounds are always different – no two days are the same. The weather, daily programmes and dynamic nature of our school ensures that each prospective family has a unique first impression of Clifton. l like that! There are many aspects to Clifton that I take for granted: the boys’ manners, engaging staff, along with the non-institutional and homely surroundings which all blend to create a unique atmosphere. The families I walk around comment on these factors and many inform me they never knew “all of this” existed on the campus.

Many of my visitors refer to “The Clifton Way” and whether I could expand a little further with my understanding of what this “way” is.

I have listed some of my thoughts on this topic. Perhaps you have been asked this question pertaining to “The Clifton Way”?


The Clifton Way”:

  • We are proudly Durban.
  • We are part of the family.
  • We encourage heritage.
  • We allow pupils to ask questions and not just answer them.
  • We orientate and welcome new pupils and families.
  • We seize the opportunities presented to us at school.
  • We celebrate the success of others.
  • We speak proudly of our school.
  • We believe in balance – school (and life) is busy.
  • We cheer for our team/s regardless of the result.
  • We take pride in our appearance.
  • We try not to become an “invisible boy”.
  • We are empathetic to others.
  • We respect the code of conduct.
  • We demonstrate “stickability”
  • We have a common goal.


On the flip side, there are moments when boys do slip up:

  • By not exercising mutual respect
  • By being unable to laugh at one’s self.
  • By letting the team down.
  • By being disrespectful, particularly on social media.
  • By failing to take responsibility
  • By showing a lack of appreciation to family.
  • By manipulating opportunities at the expense of others.
  • By making a less than adequate contribution to school life.
  • By falling at the final hurdle.
  • By asking what your school can do for you, rather than what you can do for your school.
  • By not seeing the bigger picture.


If you have any thoughts on what “The Clifton Way” means to you, please email them through to me.

I attended a moving opening ceremony to The Helen Joseph Library at Stubbs House yesterday. Look out for this news item in the Calling. Save the dates for the visits of Paddy Upton and Megan de Beyer, we look forward to seeing you on our campus.

Clifton’s reputation remains one of the cornerstones of our continued success. Thank you to all members of the Clifton Family who enhance and revere the good name of our school.




Clifton News Bits

To celebrate Valentine’s month, both the Prep and College librarians have made an effort to ensure that books and reading share the love!

In the Helen Joseph library, the Grade 4-7 boys could choose to go on a ‘Blind Date with a Book’, which involved them collecting a wrapped book to read. Age-appropriate books were pre-issued in their name, and they left the library with the books in the packaging, so that they didn’t know what they were getting.

Inside the book is a slip which they will fill in upon completion of the book and return to the library. These reviews will be displayed in the library, and will be a way for boys to easily see books that others have read.

With both the College and Prep libraries being central to the respective schools, we are thankful to have such creative and passionate librarians encouraging our boys to read. #readersareleaders

Congratulations to the Prep 1st XI cricketers who were presented with their white caps yesterday prior to the day/night victory over Umhlali at our sports campus at Riverside. This is a long-standing tradition at Clifton.
Well done, boys.


Our Grade 4 History class met up with some of our Grade 12 boys at the Nelson Mandela display at the top of Rosetta Road yesterday afternoon. Sculptor Lungelo Gumede worked for a year to complete these statues to mark the anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. What a wonderful experience for our boys who are learning about leaders!


Mezher’s Meander

On Friday afternoon Mr White will be at the Prep cricket matches being played against Umhlali. On Saturday Messrs Ravenscroft and Boniaszczuk will join Mrs Achmad at the Grade R to 2 Dads and Lads session on the Whitehead Oval. Mr Ravenscroft will be at the Prep cricket matches being played against Umhlali. Mr White will be at Hilton watching the First XI at the Interprep Cricket Festival. Mr Mezher will be with his cricket team for their match against Umhlali. Mr Bresler will be with his cricket team for their match against Westville. Ms King and Mr Knowles will be at the College cricket and basketball matches being played against Westville.

Clifton Old Boys

We congratulate Dylan Nel (Class of 2010) who will be starting for the Chiefs this weekend.

Best of luck, Dylan! The RED, BLACK, WHITE will certainly be right behind you as you make your debut!

Clifton Classifieds


Please call Amy Mezher on 064 687 5934 or email: amymez6@gmail.com if you are looking for a reliable House Sitter or Baby Sitter.


Tersia Brenna has eighteen years of experience in supervising and teaching children from 3 months olds to 5year-olds. She also has experience with autistic and ADHD children. She is available to au pair, assist with homework and holiday care Monday to Friday and weekends from the 15 December onwards. Please contact her on 063 535 1952.


Live in full time maid required in the Morningside area, preferably in her 30’s, well spoken and presentable. Must have cooking skills.

Au Pair with solid experience looking after children, honest and dependable for ad hoc au pair work.

Please contact Greg on 083 775 6992



Clifton Classified advertising is open to current parents and staff of Clifton. The cost per advert is R100, which will be debited to your son’s school account.

For bookings, email: marketing@cliftonschool.co.za