What made Plattekloof resident Emmanuel Rassou’s win at the UCT Mathematics competition so remarkable, was not merely that he had achieved a perfect score, but perhaps more so because he was grieving his mother who had passed away a month before the finals.
A record 8 151 pupils from 170 Western Cape high schools took part in the competition this year, with the award ceremony being held at the Baxter Theatre on Friday June 8, where Emmanuel, in Grade 8, dedicated the award to his mother, Thristelle, who had passed away after a long illness at the age of 43. While the win was a special one for Emmanuel, 14, he also won this year’s selection round to represent South Africa’s senior maths team in Bulgaria at the end of the month. Emmanuel said the competition was tough and he was surprised that he not only won but managed a perfect score.
“I had to do 30 questions in 75 minutes.
“One question required me to find out the number of permutations to rotate three faces of a cube – this was a real puzzle,” he said.
He dedicated the award to his mother, who passed away after a long illness on Mother’s Day, while the competition was in full swing.
“My father had suggested that I pull out of the competition but I decided to take part and to dedicate this award to her memory.”
He said his mother had always been there for him – either watching him play rugby and travelling to see him on tours.
“She also encouraged me to be the best I could be. I want to make her proud now that she is in heaven and I know that she will be looking down on me and my brothers from above,” he said.
At the awards ceremony, UCT Professor John Webb said it was rare for pupils to score 100% at this competition.
Emmanuel has had to adjust to high school life – and to attending a school far away from home.
Having attended Panoroma Primary School, he now has to wake up at 5.15am to take the 6.15am bus to SACS, which is more than 20km away, in Newlands, and sometimes he only gets home after 6pm.
He has also represented Western Province at athletics, with hurdles and cross-country being his speciality.
“I also do 13 subjects so its very hectic with homework every day,” he said.
His father, Patrice, said Emmanuel had a greater purpose and would like to become an inventor in order to make an impact in the world. “I thank God for his talents but also for the fact he is humble about his achievements.”