Zenoyise Silwana, who was recently conferred with a Bachelor of Education qualification wearing traditional attire at Walter Sisulu University, Komani campus, wants to inspire young people to conserve their cultural identities.
Silwana who crossed the stage barefoot in her traditional regalia said she would be counted as one of many students who had done this in the past, adding that the idea was to change the norm.. “I want to change the ideas in people’s minds about graduation supposedly being a formal western thing. We wear traditional clothing mostly to events we categorise as ‘traditionally formal’ like weddings. What actually convinces us that traditional is not formal? Who prescribes what is and what is not formal? It is time for us to realise that the history of our land and forefathers lies only in our hands and the future generation. We need to take pride.”
Apart from reminding others of their roots, she said this was to also inspire those facing financial constraints who sometimes fail to attend their graduation ceremonies. “It is not about how classy you are going to look on graduation day. It is about basically celebrating one’s hard work, regardless of the many challenges you’ve faced as a student through your years of study. It is about owning the moment. It’s sad how some of us end up taking loans to prepare for that one or two hour graduation ceremony because we want to own the western, expensive look. Lastly, I want to educate, through spoken and unspoken, written and unwritten language, about what being African means,” Silwana said.