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Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu

Author: Barefoot Teacher (commissioned agent)

Nkululeko Ghu is one of many students who have benefitted from the Access to Success initiative. His is a story of perseverance and triumph despite his life’s challenges. 

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(Published - 4 September 2020)

A combination of perseverance, family support and the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) unique version of ubuntu has seen alumnus Nkululeko Ghu triumph over adversity.

Nkululeko was raised by his grandparents after his mother passed away when he was in Grade 7. He experienced behavioural and study problems in high school. This prompted his grandparents – who also supported his younger brother Theo, two cousins and two nephews –  to take him and Theo to live with them when they retired to the Eastern Cape.

After passing matric in 2012 –  the first in his family to do so –  he returned to Cape Town to live with his nephews. One of whom, Nyameko, was employed by a security company at UWC.

“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be a UWC graduate. He was the one who pushed me to apply,” said Nkululeko.

After enrolling for a BA, he coped well with the demands of the course and enjoyed participating in talent shows and playing deejay at events on campus and at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). During vacations, he worked as a packer at a supermarket warehouse and as a handyman, but finding funding was a constant struggle.

After completing all academic requirements in 2017, an outstanding student debt meant his degree could not be awarded. Nkululeko found himself in a catch-22 for many months, unable to find suitable work without the degree or to settle the outstanding debt without finding work. And then, ubuntu stepped in.

Nkululeko explained, “I saw an email from Access to Success, stating that my debt had been paid. I was happy and excited that I would finally get to see and touch my degree. The mail explained they were funding me because I had great marks.”

Despite completing the milestone, Nkululeko says he still has to find the job that will kickstart his career. Although his search continues under the added challenge of an economy restricted by the COVID-19 lockdown, he remains optimistic.

“I am happy today that I have managed to get my degree. A big thank you, Access to Success!”


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