The Gift of Passion

Nkomo Primary School Sign

By Suzanne Cross

Under Four Trees is a film that tells the story of the Nkomo Primary School, its dynamic founder and Principal, Mrs. Zikhali, and how it has changed the Mnqobokazi Community in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. 

The film captures the story of the community need, the opportunity that became a vision, the numerous challenges and successes, and how the School has improved the lives of the many children who are orphaned.  

Under Four Trees is also a story about one woman’s (Mrs. Zikhali) passion to educate the children in her community and how that passion was translated and transferred to others to strengthen her quest.  That passion touched me and it touched John.  We carried it home with us, half-a-world away. 

John Simpson and some students from the Nkomo Primary School


Over the past eight years, we cultivated strong relationships with our new friends at Nkomo School through more visits, phone calls, and letters.  But passion is a very powerful force, now feeding the perseverance needed to drive this film process forward.

Sometimes it seems this is not only about us and Nkomo School, but about how passion can excite someone so much to make a person venture into a new but totally unfamiliar environment, like film production, and forge ahead anyway, against realistic odds.  But this seems the only way to disperse my energy. 

I wake up at 3:00 in the morning with words and thoughts struggling like bombarding atoms trying to get out of my head (like the alphabet letters in “Bee Season” trying to form words).  This may seem like I’m rambling on, but it speaks to motivation and perseverance against reason.  We have to make this film.

Back to logistics next week.

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