New home for Bheka

2020-01-20 10:21
KZN top matriculant Bhekamandaba Makhonza.

KZN top matriculant Bhekamandaba Makhonza. (MOEKETSI MAMANE)

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In the true spirit of ubuntu, the greater Edendale community has banded together and will be building a house for the family of Esigodini’s 2019 top matriculant, Bhekamandaba Mkhonza.

After giving Bhekamandaba a hero’s welcome following the release of his matric results, residents started a media campaign to build the family a house.

Resident Golide Makha told Weekend Witness on Friday that the social media campaign, which was launched early this month, continued gaining traction. “Many people have come forward to offer donations. In the next month or so, we should begin with the building work,” he said.

Bhekamandaba’s remarkable story is one of resilience against all odds. Despite the challenges of financial issues and an ill mother, he bagged eight distinctions, was named the top-performing pupil in uMgungundlovu district, and had the third-highest Physics marks in the country.

The former Edendale Technical School pupil will be studying actuarial science at the University of Cape Town this year.

But how was he able to overcome when he was dealt with life’s curve balls? “If you have a dream it becomes bearable. At the end of the day it’s your life and although you didn’t choose it, giving up is not an option,” he told Weekend Witness.

Bhekamandaba, who has become an overnight sensation in the close-knit community, shares a three-bedroom mud house with his unemployed mother, Kholekile Shange, and his younger brother. All of them are reliant on an R840 social grant and where possible Shange takes on piecemeal jobs as a domestic worker.

“It still feels like a dream that someone who is a nobody like me can raise such a brilliant boy.

“God has indeed raised me up,” Shange said, taking out myriad trophies from a plastic packet collected over the years by Bhekamandaba.

Despite their poor background, Shange told Weekend Witness that she has always encouraged her son to focus on his schoolbooks.

“Bheka has renewed my hope,” said Shange, beaming with pride. “I didn’t have a chance to finish school. I dropped out in Standard 8 [Grade 10]. I always tell him to do better than I did. I tell him to work hard and to always remember where he comes from. He was not born with a silver spoon; therefore, he must work twice as hard.”

She says Bhekamandaba has always been a “bright boy”.

“... When he was in primary school, I thought his intelligence was just a phase.”

In September, Shange fell ill, and Bhekamandaba said that was a trying time for the family. “It was a really tough. I had my trial examinations and my mother was in and out of hospital. It was just an emotionally stressful situation,” he said.

He recalled how over the years, his mother had struggled to pay for his school fees, to buy him his uniform and adequate studying material.

“It’s been one problem after the other. Luckily, we never went to bed hungry. I got an internal donor to cover my school costs and that took the weight off her shoulders.”

While many may view his intelligence as an extraordinary gift, Bhekamandaba said it took “hard work and consistency”.

“I spent three months doing revisions using past papers and that’s how I was able to make it.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg
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