Good Morning Angels: A life-changing moment for a gifted Grade 8 learner from Tembisa

Good Morning Angels: A life-changing moment for a gifted Grade 8 learner from Tembisa

Thabile Morolong is 13-years-old. Angels came together to give him the surprise of a lifetime from Cornwall Hill College and Good Morning Angels!

GMA Thabile Morolong
Good Morning Angels: Thabile Morolong/Supplied


Thabile Morolong is 13-years-old from Tembisa. His mom, Annie, is a domestic worker and breadwinner for her two sons and husband, as well as her own mother and siblings, who live in the Eastern Cape. With the assistance of her employers, the Badenhorst family, Thabile finished his primary school education in Irene Primary and remained living with the Badenhorst family, after his mom moved back to Tembisa. The reason: he is such a talented drummer, that he is in the Cornwall Hill Pipe Band even though he’s not in the school. He was inspired by the Pipe band when he attended competitions at Cornwall Hill College, where the Badenhorst family’s three children attended. Thabile won the solo competition at the SA Drumming Championships last year - a category which includes all drummers up to the age of 21.

Thabile has moved from the Badenhorsts’ home in Irene, back to his mom in Tembisa, to go to his new school. Logistics and other school responsibilities could end his blossoming career as a drummer. There is no way that his mom or the Badenhorst family can afford a private school education and res-fees for Thabile - even though his future seems to lie at Cornwall Hill College.

ANGEL 1: Leon Kunneke, Executive Principal of Cornwall Hill College 

SPONSORING: Cornwall Hill College has awarded Thabile a full academic and hostel bursary from Grade 8 to Grade 12 (That’s over R135 000 a year for five years around R700 000,00 in total)

ANGEL 2: Deidré from Cloud Ed Solutions 

SPONSORING: Clouded Solutions will sponsor the R6 250,00 Chromebook (tablet) mandatory for use by all CHC learners

ANGEL 3: The Good Morning Angels Fund

SPONSORING: The GMA Fund and our generous Jacaranda FM listeners will sponsor Thabile’s School Uniform, stationary, Pipe Band Uniform, Band Camp and National Pipe Band fees (total R 13 313,00)


THABILE MOROLONG (From Mercia Badenhorst)

Thabile’s mom Annie started working for me as a live- in domestic in July 2007. She had a 2 year old baby who stayed with her mom in Postmasburg.  She often had to go home as Thabile was always sick and spent most of her money on transport home. This was a concern to me and I offered that the baby could stay with her in her room until his health improved.  Before we knew it he was 4 years old and needed other children to play with. We enrolled him in the Lethabong Pre-school next to Irene Middle School. 

Thabile spoke only Setswana and I taught him Afrikaans, my children taught him English. Thabile never went back to stay with his grandmother in Postmasburg, he became very much part of our family. The longer he stayed the more difficult it was to send him away. We decided to see if we could help him to get a good education, and possibly even study after school. Both his parents never had that opportunity. 

Sello, his dad, worked in a factory as a packer until he was retrenched a few years ago and is still unemployed. Sello helped his family to raise his sister’s children after she passed away.

Annie continued to send money to Postmasburg to help her mother. Lettie (Annie’s elderly mother) is responsible for Annie’s 2 younger brothers, a sister and her child. The unemployment rate is very high in the Northern Cape and the family will not survive without Annie’s contribution.  Annie had a second baby who she needs to take care off. 

As a family we decided to help Annie with Thabile. We wanted to get him into a good school, enabling him to get some sort of tertiary education and brake the poverty cycle in his family.  I also committed myself to help him with his schoolwork, and he was enrolled at Irene Primary from Gr1.  His parents did not have these opportunities growing up and hopefully Thabile’s children will have it one day. 

Thabile was always interested in music and loved to listen to my daughter playing the saxophone. When our son joined the CHC Pipe Band in 2013 Thabile was hooked on the music and pretended to play drums when he thought we were not looking. Eventually I gave in to his request and asked Paul Ross at what age he could start lessons. He was too young but when he turned 10 in October 2015, Titch Dockeril (the drumming tutor at the time) said he could try one lesson. Titch told us that Tab – Thabile’s nickname in the band, has skills and he could join the other new drumming boys. By April 2016 Thabile started playing for the band as a snare drummer. No one was prepared for this and we had to wrap the smallest kilt twice around him and pray the belt would keep the kilt up.  

Cornwall Hill College then invested in Thabile and had a kilt made for him, he was allowed to play for the band even though he attended Irene Primary School.  We helped Annie with the school fees, uniform, stationary, camps and outings. This then later included the pipe band and also karate lessons.

As our children grew older and started studying we moved to a smaller house. Annie no longer lives in as she wants to take care of her baby (now 2 years old).  At this stage we pay study fees for our three children and myself. It is financially not within our means to enrol Thabile into a private school (CHC) in order for him to be part of a Pipe Band.  We never thought that Thabile would end up in a band and our initial plan was to help him through primary school that he could go to a good high school in Tembisa and be able to do homework by himself.  This all changed when we realised that Thabile had a talent for drumming and now we would like to help him to develop this talent and work towards a possible career in drumming.

For the last 2 years I converted my small study into a (small) bedroom for Thabile as it is very difficult to commute from Thembisa to Irene Primary every day.  Band practices are twice a week and end at 6:30pm and 7:30pm. We felt that he could not travel to Thembisa so late and transport (trains and taxis) are not reliable, I also felt it was not safe to travel by himself at such a young age.  

We are grateful for the academic bursary that was granted to him from CHC but are faced with some problems:

·       If he stays in Tembisa commuting is a problem ,  when there are delays or strikes he will be late for school;

·       He needs to be at school early every second weekend when the competition season starts, or any other early practices/performances with the  CHC big band;

·       My own studies makes it difficult to drive Thabile around;

·       I will be seeing clients as part of my practical training this year and need my study for that;

·       I am concerned that Thabile does not have any friends that can visit him as he is living in Midstream and Tembisa; staying in hostel will give him the opportunity to form friendships with children his own age;

·       Financially we cannot afford the other costs.

THABILE MOROLONG (from Paul Ross – Pipe Band Staff member)

Cornwall Hill College host a Pipe Band competition every year. Mrs. Mercia Badenhorst and a group of parents were involved in the organization of the event. Mercia asked her domestic helper, Annie  (Thabile’s mom), to help in the food stalls on the day. Thabile came along and was inspired by what he saw.

He asked to join the band as he wanted to make the band great. At the end of Grade 5 he started taking drumming lessons at Cornwall Hill College and by the end of Grade 6 he became a band member. This is unusual as it normally takes at least 2 years to reach the standard needed to be in the band.

Thabile is now the leading drummer of the Cornwall Hill College Pipe Band who won the SA Champion of Champions Novice Juvenile Pipe Band Competition last year. In the solo competition he won the SA Drumming Championships (a category which includes all drummers up to the age of 21) 

Thabile is a respectful young man who wants the team to do well. He has remained humble even after achieving these incredible results.

Show's Stories