Teaching from experience

2019-06-11 06:00
Evariste Umba

Evariste Umba

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Evariste Umba from Wynberg has become an active citizen and is always doing his part to help others.

Umba, currently studying at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) for his PhD degree in Mining Engineering, says it is his past that has shaped him to be the person that he is today.

Growing up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Umba led a gang for about 16 years.

For him, being part of a gang was nothing but about power, strength and the joy of terrorising others.

Born from a wealthy family, things changed for him when he had to move from the posh area to a not-so-good area which was plagued with gangs.

“I was already a problem at school even in the nicer area where we stayed. When we moved to the other side of town, I sort of fitted in nicely because I was mischievous and had a lot of internal conflicts. And for me, being a gang leader was the best,” he says.

Nicknamed Mukubi, meaning strong man, he came from a broken family. He almost dropped out of school, believing a career in a street gang was the way to go because it was what he knew. Fuelled by his nickname he thought life was just to make a name for himself in the streets.

“After serious interventions from my family, I changed my mind. I then met a different crew in school who showed me the true sense of belonging is not by hurting people but helping and serving them – showing love,” he says, adding that this was his turning point.

Despite him leading an almost disastrous life, he has obtained three degrees and is pursuing another one and inspiring thousands across nations.

“I now talk to others and share my experiences with them. I believe what everyone needs is a strong family support structure and role models to look up to. People had lost hope in me but my family never gave up,” he says.

Now he goes to schools teaching them about the dangers or gangsterism, drugs and alcohol.

“I believe as a society we have to create a platform to oppose all the bad. We must take time to help others and be a support structure.

“People must use their past to learn and draw motivation from,” he says.

Umba says he doesn’t want others to lead the same life as he did and that is why he takes time to talk to people, especially learners, to motivate them.Waiting for pic

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