Submitted to Struik Publishers and the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust for the publication 'ALL THAT I AM' (a compilation of letters) compiled by Leyla Haidarian
4 October 2004
Please, kindly send us a sentence, a paragraph, or much more, paying tribute to a person or persons who made a difference in your life. Tell us about a parent, a friend, a mentor, a religious person or other figure who touched you or propelled you to the being today, an extraordinary South African.
In the segregated days of the late 1960s I was lucky enough to have one primary school teacher whose enlightened attitude transcended the unimaginative repression that was apartheid education. His name is Alan Kenyon. Against the grain of mediocrity and corporal punishment that was the norm, he fostered an holistic approach to education, encouraging those weird and wonderful talents that are present in any classroom but were in those days suppressed into conformity.
Alone amongst the staff, he saw that my interest in cartooning wasn’t just a distraction from more serious things. In the school newspaper that he started, I was editor and had my first regular cartoon gig, where a character called “Preppie” commented on the goings-on at the school. Under his mentorship I read both serious literature and comic doggerel.
He managed to stimulate passion in things artistic and scientific. I attribute to him my first understanding of lateral thinking. At a time when politics was forbidden in the classroom he was clearly a political progressive, always promoting tolerance and humanity. He helped me open my mind and for that I am deeply grateful.