Raised by her late grandmother because her mother and father were working in Johannesburg and Durban, respectively, Simangele Mthethwa was born in a remote area in Mtubatuba called eNgqopheni Reserve.
She says the road to reaching her milestone was not an easy one. “I was raised by my late grandmother, and we stayed together with my cousins. When she passed on in 2005, we all had to live with our fathers since our mothers were working in Johannesburg and there was nobody who could have taken care of us. From then I stayed with my father in Durban until I completed my matric,” Mthethwa tells.
She recently graduated from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences with a Postgraduate Diploma in Recreation and Tourism (NQF Level 8). She is currently employed at the University of Zululand as Administrator: Certification Management.
She shares her story on how she was faced with difficulties during her first qualification because she had to accept her spiritual calling which therefore called for finding a perfect balance between school, family and work.
“While I was doing the Diploma in Public Relations Management in 2012, in fact, towards the end of that year, I had to accept my spiritual calling. This made things worse for me because it was my family, work, school and ukuthwasa (the initiation process for sangomas). When I had to accept my spiritual calling, I had to leave home and stay at the initiation school (kwaGobela), which was tough on its own. My Gobela, who is also a staff member, gave me support [right until] finishing my studies and motivated me to study even further. To say I was under pressure would be an understatement because these four items needed my full attention. My family gave me support, especially my husband and my firstborn,” recalls Mthethwa.
She is grateful to all those who supported her during her journey. She mentions, in particular, her classmates with whom she formed a study group. She also remembers engaging with the now retired Prof Raymoth Vika Gabela who encouraged her to study further and explore other avenues in academia.
“One day, Professor Gabela said to me: ‘You cannot say you are done with school and yet you still have a diploma. Why don’t you study further and register for Bachelor of Arts?’ I took it into consideration. At that time, I was pregnant. I took a leap of faith and registered. In the middle, I asked myself: ‘What have I got myself into?’ The way things were unfolding- it was my family, school and work; things were really hard.”
Mthethwa is a fun, outspoken person who easily gets along with everyone. She also never resists assisting wherever she can. When she needs to unwind she sings Baba Ngikulolu Hambo, her favourite hymn from IziHlabelelo ZamaNazaretha (the hymn book of the Shembe denomination). Whenever she faces difficulties, she communicates with God and her ancestors.
The graduate also adds that, “It is important for me to further my studies because I want to teach my children that school is important and to uplift my family and community where I come from to show them that it is possible.”
– Siyanda Mntambo