Let’s us first check what the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” means. It simply means not to judge people or things by what they look like, and nor should you decide whether something or someone is bad by its or their outside appearance. This metaphor can be applied to many situations in life. Perhaps the best example to use is: I would never have married him.

There hasn’t been one person in my life who hasn’t influenced or inspired me to do good deeds or to surprise people with their accomplishments. My favorite teacher, Mr. Bulala, is the most enthusiastic person I know. No matter what came his way, he conquered it and then moved on to the next challenge. Throughout the year, Mr. Bulala spoke about his life; about how he once worked for the family company for less than minimum wage, to how he had side jobs paying him more than R100 per hour. He told us that if you worked hard, no matter what you did, you would succeed.

Mr. Bulala was the most unconventional man by far. He was a machine. He never stopped working, not once he got started and he was a hard worker. For starters, he worked at his family’s company for seven days a week and for more than 12 hours a day. Most people don’t even know what hard work is, but Mr. Bulala lived through it. After that he went to university to study and receive a degree in Mathematics, English and Computer programming, respectively. There were others, but he didn’t tell us about them.

After university, he got a teaching job in one of Soweto’s schools, the school I attended, Sekano-Ntoane High School. This is where he inspired me. Well, now he is well over 50 years old, but he is still going strong. He still has his teaching job at my school, but he applied for a different post. He quit doing programming which paid him over R100 an hour with a Sasol Petrol Officer.

That’s right! There is a motivated man. People at his age are planning to retire, but he is planning on getting new jobs. He is a good and wise man, though his story wasn’t that understandable to others, it inspired and motivated me. Many students wished to be like him. Mr. Bulala used to say that there was this wise man who said: “You are the master of your own life; you are responsible for what you choose to do with it”. He was also a man who had gone through many struggles from a relatively young age with his health, but continued to have a positive outlook on life.

There was this metaphor he used when he would tell us a story: “Life is like a walk in the rain. You can find shelter or you can just get wet” and that has become my philosophy too. As you have read, my teacher, Mr. Bulala overcame many obstacles in his life and has never thought about quitting. That’s how Mr. Bulala influences me to do well so that people can look up to me, too. Today I have a lot of respect for him and am very grateful to him for believing in me. Don’t judge a book by its cover.