Our society is one that has less degrees of separation than we would believe. Vuyo Seti is my case in point.
A recent graduate of Transnet’s Maritime School of Excellence and one of 81 Port Elizabeth based graduates out of a record 513 national graduates, the 35 year-old married Vuyo is employed in the Port of Port Elizabeth‘s Port Control directing shipping traffic in and out of the harbour, controlling shipping within the confines of the harbour and acting as the first communication point between ship owners, agents and captains of ships.
It was in the very early 1990’s that Vuyo’s family left Vryheid for Port Elizabeth as they felt to be in danger with the faction fighting between Xhosa and Zulu in the lead up to the 1994 elections. A proud son of a Xhosa father and Zulu mother, Seti saw the sea for the first time.
Seti has been employed by Transnet for eight years and is extremely proud of his recent graduation and achievements.
Well liked by all who come into contact with him and with a strong faith he is recognisable by his signature line when people phone and ask him how he is: “The Lord is good,” says Port Captain Brynn Adamson – a 20 year veteran of the Port.
Seti says that his training took place over three years on three of the satellite campuses in Richards Bay, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and speaks with affection of his colleagues up in the Port Control tower. He hopes to secure a senior position within the next year.
Reminiscing Seti told of how his older colleagues remember smaller vessels being able to tie up alongside the old Port Control building which was basically a single storey ‘hut’. The then Port Control employees would lower a bucket to the waiting vessel to receive some fresh fish in return.
On the question of children Seti gleefully confided that he had hopes of having three in quick succession – I hope that this does not come as news to Mrs Seti!
The position that Vuyo fills is much like the duties of an air traffic controller. As an indication of responsibility – in the ‘old days’ that position had to be filled by someone who had a ship captain’s ticket. The job demands patience, foresight and the ability to remain calm at all times – qualities that Vuyo has in abundance.
And that degree of separation?
It was during our conversation that I realised that I had probably spoken to Vuyo many times on my sailing in and out of the Port as I tuned into Channel 12 to ask permission of Port Control.