Focus‚ no friends‚ no girlfriends paved the way for top matriculant

Bhekumuzi Mnisi with his mother, Maria Masemola, at the ministerial breakfast for top achievers.
Image: Phathu Luvhengo/TimesLIVE

The mother of Bhekumuzi Mnisi‚ a Kwamhlanga Senior Secondary School pupil who has been recognised as one of SA’s top performing matriculants‚ on Thursday shared how her son lived a life of solitude‚ focusing solely on his schoolwork.

Maria Masemola‚ 44‚ said her entire family had supported Bhekumuzi and she too spent long nights ensuring he achieved his goals.

“At times he would say ‘Mama I am going to sleep can you wake me at this time?’ I would stay awake until the time came and only then went to sleep. I used to spend a lot of time with him when he was studying‚ I used to sit beside him‚” she said.

She said her child has always been dedicated to his books and didn’t have friends throughout high school.

“He would be at home studying and at times I would joke‚ asking him when he would bring me umakoti (a bride)‚” she said.

The 17-year-old Mnisi said though he worked hard and remained focused throughout the year‚ there were some challenges‚ including the death of his grandmother during his final exams.

“My grandmother always motivated me to study even harder. She used to stay with us and I knew at the time that I had to give it my all. I remembered that her biggest wish was to see me being successful and that made me focus more on my school work‚ instead of being troubled by her passing‚” he said.

Mnisi praised his teachers who always dedicated their time to help pupils with their school work‚ especially his maths teacher.

“I think in 2021 there was a learner from our school who also came here after he performed exceptionally well. That also motivated me‚ knowing that someone from our school could make it. That’s why I put more hard work into it‚” he said.

Kamohelo Mosikili‚ 18‚ knew that he had worked enough to get recognition when he received a call from the department of education on Monday about his achievement.

The pupil from Selelekela Secondary School in QwaQwa‚ Free State‚ said he was in disbelief when he received the call.

“I was in a car when the call came. I almost jumped out of the car that was moving. That’s how excited I was‚” he said.

The second born in a family of three siblings he always had faith that one day he would grace the national stage celebrating his achievement but was always anxious as he reckoned only a few top achievers make it to the national stage.

“I always knew that I could pull it off. I just needed to stay consistent. Consistency was key and my teachers supported me a lotin terms of providing studying material and helping me out when I needed it‚” he said.

Mosikili’s academic journey has never been without its obstacles. Though his self-employed parents strove for him to focus on his studies‚ he says issues of service delivery in his community provided a slight challenge.

He recalled that load-shedding and limited access to clean water in his community meant that he would have to collect water with buckets and at the same time go for hours without electricity.

“Things like load-shedding are very bad when you are trying to study and, in our community‚ we also had a water crisis and using candles for light — you have to be very careful with how you use them. It decreases your ability to study efficiently‚” he said.

“The matric year was tough‚ with a lot of hard work and sleepless nights‚ and that requires a mental capacity that will allow you to keep on pushing‚” he said.

Mosikili said he also owed his success to his parents who ensured they paid for his transport which took him to school about 15km away.

“My parents worked hard to make sure that I always had money for school. Nobody at home has a stable job. Both of my parents are self-employed‚” he said.

Mosikili aspires to become a software engineer and plans to study computer science at the University of Cape Town.

Source: ARENA Holdings.