Zanele and Zandile Gumede are identical twins.
They were conceived from one egg; were born together and would later even conceive their own children approximately three weeks apart. In fact, during the interview for this story, the twins would finish each other’s sentences; a clear sign that they know each other like the palm of their hands.
This strong bond would ultimately lead the 22-year-old twins to enrol towards the same degree- a Batchelor of Arts in Tourism Studies- and graduate with this degree on Wednesday, 9 May 2018, during the UNIZULU Arts Faculty’s graduation ceremonies. Ironically, the twin graduands were in different curriculum streams in high school.
“We do everything together. We are friends and share the same friends. We sing together (they sang in the same choir in high school). We got pregnant at the same time,” quipped the twins, while continuing, “We got pregnant two or three weeks apart. Our children were born on 21 May and 18 June 2016 (respectively) and are turning two years old this year. We didn’t plan to study towards the same degree at university. It’s just one of those things that happened by chance. In high school, Zanele did History while Zandile was in Science and it just so happened that we fell in love with Tourism. One of our ultimate plans is for the degree to take us abroad career wise,” said the twins.
The interview quickly turns sombre when asked whether they have previously encountered any difficulties that almost derailed their dreams for the future. In 2002 whilst in primary school, the twins lost their mother and in 2004, would also lose their father, a heartbreak that the twins clearly carry with them to this day.
Both twins weep as they recount the painful loss of their parents. Their maternal aunt would however step up to the plate; raising the twins and providing for them through selling food items such as fat koeks. “Financially it wasn’t that bad because we had our aunt. She didn’t work and we helped her in her business. We have been able to get this far because of her and will always be grateful to her hard work. Were it not for her, we would not have been able to graduate today,” said Zanele.
In terms of future plans, Zandile says they her sister and I are planning on studying towards their PHD degrees; the next stop being their Honours degree next year (2019). The twins will properly celebrate their academic feat with a huge braai sometime in June.
– Sinegugu Ndlovu
Pictured: Zandile and Zanele; the identical twins who graduated with a Batchelor of Arts in Tourism Studies on Wednesday, 9 May 2018.