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From car guard to holding a PhD: A bumpy ride

11 April 2014, 11:13

WSU senior tourism lecturer Tembi Tichaawa’s (36) story of ascent from a car guard to doctor of philosophy is an inspiring one.

Cameroon-born Tichaawa is a researcher and director of the institution’s Centre of Excellence for Tourism research.

Tichaawa tells a story of a young lad with unwavering devotion to an education that would be a stepping stone to a life-long dream. 

“I wanted to contribute to society and I saw education as the key. Nothing was going to stop me because I was determined to get to the top,” he said.

However, Tichaawa came to realise the hefty price tag that came with tertiary education which led him to working as a car guard, security officer and a porter to support his studies.

“I had to strive for it. I started my life in South Africa watching cars when the owners were in the supermarket in exchange for little change,” said Tichaawa.

Tichaawa saved enough to enrol for a tourism management diploma at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. His outstanding academic performance caught the attention of CPUT - this preceded his landing a job as a lecturer.

During this stint, he completed a master’s degree cum laude and subsequently studied towards a philosophy doctorate at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

Tichaawa’s thesis interrogated the legacy impacts of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in Africa, which set light on the perceptions of soccer fans and stakeholders in Nigeria and Cameroon.

Tichaawa says there’s still a lot that he has to accomplish and contribute in his life time.

“We still have to build a society where we provide meaningful education and I have to work towards that,” he said.

Tichaawa recently graduated at for his philosophy doctorate at UKZN.

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