Pictures of a young man in tears during the University of KwaZulu-Natal graduation ceremony have been trending on social media with congratulations pouring in while others are pledging towards his future.
A statement released by UKZN said the 23-year-old Dumisani Ngobese from a rural area outside Empangeni called Bhukhanana was conferred with a Bachelor of Arts degree at a ceremony held at the UKZN’s Westville Campus on Friday.
Ngobese is currently pursuing an Honours degree.
He said during the graduation, he was overcome with emotions as he reflected on what he said was a “long and difficult” journey.
In less than 24 hours, Ngobese was offered a permanent job by a Durban businessman, Calvin Mathibeli (34) who owns Calvin and Family Group of companies. He will also pay for Ngobese's Honours degree fees.
Mathibeli said he was moved by Ngobese's story and decided to create a permanent post for him.
"I was so moved by his story because of his resilience but also because of the similarities that we have in terms of background. I spoke to him yesterday and I was very moved by his story," said Mathibeli.
He said he had other vacancies but created one especially for Ngobese who will be start working on Monday.
The two met on Saturday to conclude the offer.
Ngobese was raised by his maternal grandmother.
“My grandmother was a street vendor and the sole breadwinner in the house where there were over 10 children,” he said.
He said unfortunately his grandmother could not make the trip to see him graduate due to ill health.
Ngobese said it would have been difficult for her and she would have had to take about three taxis to get to Westville.
“But my mother and aunt were present at the graduation,” Ngobese said.
There were people who commented on his outfit. Unlike many other graduates who’d wear suits, Ngobese was wearing a black golf t-shirt and black pants.
Ngobese said it was a graduation he could not miss.
“I could not afford to buy a suit but I just had to be there at graduation,” he said.
“I am overwhelmed by the number of calls. I have been getting so many that I cannot respond to all of them. People have been phoning to wish me well while some have even pledged donations. I am grateful to all the people showing me love,” Ngobese said.
Mathibela said Ngobese's story resonated with his own expiriences. "I was raised by my grandmother in a big family but our resilience has made us who we are. I want to ensure that Ngobese is able to earn a living so that he can also contribute to his family. All I need from him is to respect the job," said Mathibeli.