MAGONA, Harold Armstrong Jongilezwe – August 2017. Commoner. 1965-68. Oxford University Africa Society President 1966
Harold Magona, who died suddenly in South Africa last August, was awarded in 1965 the first Magdalen College JCR Scholarship, paid for by undergraduates, and given to students whose educational prospects had been compromised by apartheid. Harold was a Xhosa; he attended Langa High School in Cape Town before coming to Oxford to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics. He was already a published poet.
Despite the somewhat alien first year environment of the Wayneflete Building, Harold threw himself into College life and took up rowing and running, well suited to someone who was very talented at sports and who remained fit all his life. He was later joined by his wife Priscilla and his young children, Elphina and Gerald. At the university level he presided over the Africa Society, some of whose then members later became prominent in the politics of their countries.
Those of us who knew Harold well will always remember the positive approach he brought to life. He was lots of fun but also brought wisdom to our debates about life and politics, drawing on his sense of social justice and his experiences under apartheid. In the words of his children, he was fiercely intelligent, humorous and, above all, loving. He was adored by his family and loved by his friends of whom he had many.
After Oxford, Harold had a short spell in industry working for Courtaulds in Essex before embarking on a career in teaching. He taught history and economics at Queen’s School, Bushey, north of London, for nearly thirty five years becoming Head of Economics. He had a reputation as a first class teacher, bringing lessons to life and holding his pupils spellbound. As the only black teacher in the school he was an inspiration to many.
Harold always retained his links to South Africa. He leaves Priscilla, Elphina, Gerald and his younger son, Andile, and four grandchildren.