Young shackdweller’s dream comes true

By admin
20 April 2012

Yanga (above left) was raised by his grandparents Euginia Mcunukelwa and Jackson Khenyane (pictured here with him).

Like any first-year student Yanga Mcunukelwa’s wary of seniors. “We’re not allowed to walk on the lawn,” the 21-year-old says in a low voice on the way to his room in the Dagbreek student residence at the University of Stellenbosch (US).

“All the attention can be intimidating,” shy Yanga Mcunukelwa admits. “I’m just one of the 106 first-years living here,” he says modestly.

But Yanga is an exceptional young man. Although he often had to study by candlelight in the OR Tambo informal settlement in Mbekweni in Paarl, Western Cape, he was the only matriculant in his school to achieve an A-aggregate. He got distinctions in five subjects and 92 per cent for maths.

He was recently awarded the Thuthuka bursary of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants. This will pay the academic and accommodation fees of the ambitious young man who can finally realise his dream of becoming an accountant.

The road to enrolment as a student at Stellenbosch hasn’t been easy however. His clothes were often stolen in the informal settlement and the shack he shared with his grandparents burnt down three times.

“Suffering creates determination,” he says. “It builds character and character gives you hope.”

Read more of Pieter van Zyl’s interview with Yanga in YOU 26 April 2012.

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