The “nest” was empty after her youngest child left home to study at university so Ms Primi Chetty decided it was time for her to pursue a Law degree.
That was four years ago. Today, Chetty – the CEO of Shuter and Shuter Publishers which is the fifth largest publisher of school textbooks in South Africa – has graduated with an LLB degree cum laude just short of her 60th birthday!
‘At the age of 55 I became an “empty nester”,’ said Chetty. ‘My son, Ravi, was studying Law at UCT so I decided it would be cool for me to also study and thus create topics of mutual interest and conversation with him so I enrolled for an LLB at UKZN. The experience was phenomenal, especially the interaction on campus with young people, all of whom became my children in the absence of my own. The part-time programme is wonderfully well structured and if you keep up, you are destined for success. The LLB degree has enhanced my business knowledge, meaning I have made less use of my company’s attorneys,’ said Chetty.
Education and law are definitely a passion in the family. Chetty is married to Kooben, a respected attorney in Pietermaritzburg, while Ravi is currently pursuing his LLM in Maritime Law at the University of Cape Town. Their eldest child, Maya, is a Paediatrician in Germany and their youngest, Prayanka, is doing her third-year in Medicine at the University of Debrecen in Hungary.
‘My husband and I met when he was studying Law and I was doing my BCom at the then University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg. Those were, to an extent, the best of times because we were studying and the worst of times because many students did not want us to be there due to our race,’ said Chetty.
‘We were active in student protests then, primarily against the apartheid government and the struggle to free Madiba.
‘Studying has created a significant bond between my children and myself as I understand the pressures they face whilst studying. I certainly also bonded closely with my husband and Ravi over case studies and the Rule of Law. I loved the interactions with young students on campus which affirmed my belief that we are all equal, striving hard for a better life irrespective of colour or culture. I loved being in the heart of the rainbow nation.’
With the motto: “You are never too old to accomplish anything you set your mind to”, as her driving force, Chetty’s plans include serving her articles after spending much needed quality time with her family, especially her 88-year-old mother and her 92-year-old father as well as Golden Retrievers Blu and Bailey!
‘I have just declined a research Master’s seat to focus more time on my parents and family because the last four years were gruelling. However, I will serve articles at my husband’s offices and put into practice all my legal knowledge in the future,’ added Chetty.
Words: Thandiwe Jumo
Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan