A disabled graduate who received a standing ovation when he received his national diploma in Office Management and Technology says all he wants for his birthday is to find a job.
Butterworth-born Bulelani Kobe, who is without legs or arms, uttered these words during the WSU graduation ceremony in Butterworth on Monday 12 May.
He says his efforts to find employment have failed thus far after he finished his studies at the University last year.
“I’ve taken a step towards the right direction and got my diploma. I just ask people out there to put faith in me and open their doors when I knock looking for employment. I know I will be an asset to any company that chooses to hire me,” says Kobe.
Kobe, who types and writes using stumps in his upper limbs, says despite his disability, he wants to ensure potential employers that he’s able to use a computer and write like any other person.
Kobe’s journey to this particular pinnacle of educational aristocracy has been a road lined with a myriad of social and academic challenges.
After graduating from high school in 2005, Kobe’s efforts to pursue further education were delayed because of a tertiary system that “shied away from taking the responsibility of educating a person without limbs”.
“I applied at many tertiary institutions across the country after high school but doors were all doors were because our institutions didn’t have the appropriate facilities, personnel and infrastructure to offer quality education to a person of my disability, and that of many others who’re disabled,” says Kobe.
However, fortunes would change for the now graduate as he was finally accepted to study at WSU in 2009.
Kobe describes his life at WSU as a bitter-sweet experience. On one hand, the school lacked the necessary infrastructure and human resource needed to cater for someone of his disabilities – whilst on the other hand, he met people who were willing to help make his journey a little bit easier.
“The infrastructure at WSU, as with a lot of Universities in the country, just didn’t have the necessary resources to cater for people with disabilities. This is an issue that needs to be prioritised at the top level. I've seen a change however in recent times as there has been construction of ramps on-site, as well as the establishment of a centre that deals specifically with challenges confronting the disabled,” he says.
WSU Spokesperson Angela Church said Kobe’s achievements bear testimony to the values held by another champion – the University’s alma mater, Tat’ uWalter Sisulu.
“His readiness to fight against all odds in pursuit his dreams speaks volumes of his character. WSU tips its hat off to him for proving to others that all things are possible through hard work and dedication,” said Church.
Kobe says if people are to learn anything from his experience, it’s that there’s no substitute for hard work – and nothing supersedes self-belief.
“I wouldn’t be where I am had I not known the value of my worth,” concluded Kobe.