Love of the sea leads to studies

2013-08-14 00:00

WHEN she was little, Nomcebo Sibisi loved sitting at the harbour and watching ships.

Born in Pietermaritzburg, she moved to Durban with her family at six and living in a coastal city meant the ocean bug soon bit her.

Sibisi soon decided that she wanted to work near the sea.

While she wasn’t sure what direction her passion for all things nautical would take her, she did come across maritime studies during her first year of university.

However, it was only four years later that she did something about it.

“I had no idea what maritime studies was until I got to university. I was studying law, and in my fourth year chose maritime law as an elective.

“My lecturer Dr Portia Ndlovu gave a presentation about the World Maritime University (WMU) and told us that it is one of the best institutions one can go to, to further their studies in maritime affairs … [I] vowed to myself that one day I would end up there.”

Now the bubbly student has received a scholarship to do her Masters in maritime affairs at the WMU in Sweden.

Sibisi’s scholarship is funded by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa), and at 22 years old, she is one of the youngest to be selected in this year’s group of 23 candidates.

“I am very grateful to Samsa. They are funding the whole 14-month programme, which involves tuition, flights there and back and [an allowance].

“People may be afraid to leave the country on their own. My grandfather always said ‘broaden your horizons’, and with this opportunity I will.”

Her passion for the sea and the maritime industry is something she wants to share. She is the co- founder and director of Youth Chamber of Shipping in Africa, an NPO she started in university to spread awareness of the maritime industry to youth of South Africa. In addition to this, Sibisi teaches grade 10, 11 and 12 maritime economics at New Forest High School.

“This is a white male-dominated field and I took that as a challenge to want to learn more about this industry, and to break the norms and boundaries that exist within it.

“The people of South Africa, especially the ones who were previously disadvantaged, need to know that there is a blue economy waiting for us to tap into. That is what motivates me to learn more and more about Maritime studies so I can pass on my knowledge to other people.”

Sibisi leaves for Sweden in September to read for a Master’s of Science in maritime affairs majoring in law and policy. When she returns, she will continue with her Master’s in Commerce, maritime studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

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