In conversation with Ntate Steve Nkatlo

It’s a balmy Wednesday morning as I knock on the front door of Mr Nkatlo’s home on the main road in Dobsonville.”Ware o mosimane wa gamang”? He asks with his trademark hoarse voice as we start our dialogue. I expected to be met by a frail old man, but to my surprise at 89, the octogenarian is still very active. He’s still his usual bubbly self and in full control of his faculties. But how he has he managed to stay fit for so long? He relates that he avoided alcohol and smoking by all means.

Steve Nkatlo was born on the 27th September 1931 at a small village near Fryburg in the North West province. He boasts a rich and enviable curriculum vitae, although tainted by the dark ages of apartheid, having occupied a position of council member, Dobsonville mayor, chairperson, and sales person. His father died when he was still an infant, and 14 years later his mother sadly passed on.

The story of his upbringing is no different from that of a typical South African youngster. At age 14, Nkatlo enrolled with the Middleton Bulk School where he attended up to standard 4. In Joburg he studied at St. Angeles Catholic School in Roodepoort West, currently Horizon View where he developed his love for the Latin language. In 1954, at the age of 23, Steve completed his junior certificate (Grade Ten) at the Pax boys College in Pietersburg.

“After obtaining my certificate I could not look for a job because I had no Identity book by then, “Steve reflected. But soon after obtaining the ID book, Steve was employed in a knitting factory and unbeknown to many, had several retail stints in Gauteng.

His insatiable appetite for sales and marketing saw him becoming a sales person for the Edgars group from 1976 to 1977.” While working there I was arrested three times for failing to produce my Dompass”. The banning of publications and political organizations saw him becoming part of the Progressive Federal Party in 1977.

From 1955 Nkatlo, increasingly began to be involved in politics, and only became Dobsonville Mayor in 1984. True to his promise, Mr Nkatlo stepped down in 1992 having served under difficult circumstances, and consequently reinforced his acquaintance with Don Mmesi. According to Steve, Don was the first black mayor in Soweto and his political influence saw the new residential development next to the Dobsonville mall ‘Mmesi Park’ named after him.

After leaving the mayoral office, Nkatlo got elevated to the status of chairperson of Dobsonville Chamber of Commerce and Industries. Later in the year 2002, he obtained the South West College award for his meritorious service in the College Council.

The following years saw him continuing to impact politics on a global stage, taking centre stage as speaker and panelist at various international conferences, lending his expertise to political advancements in favor of the African continent’s development. Nkatlo is now a full-time business man and continues to share his expertise and the township’s heritage to next generations.

Thapelo Magola Soweto Sunrise News.

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