Academically, Somafco was an interesting, brave and bold experiment. It provided an education that defied the Bantu Education system in South Africa. The curriculum included development of societies (the communist outlook) and the history of struggle – which focused on the history of the liberation movements, labour movements, mining revolution, land dispossession, migrant labour system, Afrikaner nationalism and the Anglo-Boer wars (from a different perspective).

Reviewing the book ‘Foundations of a New South Africa’ derived from the text book, History of the Struggle (which includes updated historical events), Professor Colin Bundy wrote “Its achievement is impressive…A well researched history, it puts to shame the tepid texts approved by authorities inside the country.”

Under the chapter ‘history of the struggle’ cultural plays and performances in Mazimbu/ Somafco are featured prominently – where they illustrate how these plays were used as part of the learning experience.

In addition to English, there was a huge emphasis on core subjects such as Maths and Science – a direct contrast to the practice and myth in Apartheid South Africa that blacks were incapable of excellence in these subjects.

Great facilities existed to boost or reinforce the academic curriculum including a zoology section, a weather centre, as well as a science laboratory. These would have been rare in a primary and secondary school in Township South Africa during the 70’s and 80’s.

Nutrition, mostly food stock from the small scale farming activities in Mazimbu ensured that students were never hungry at school.

But Somafco went beyond being an education in opposition to Bantu Education; it experimented in what was called “Education with Production” or vocational training.

This demonstrated the desire to develop a “prototype” in infrastructure, but also in curriculum for a free and democratic South Africa.