Masters graduate Mr Lucky Shange’s goal had been to become a top-class footballer after he was chosen to represent KwaZulu-Natal towards the end of 1999 but his hopes were dashed when he lost his eyesight.

The almost overnight loss of his vision remains somewhat of a mystery but over the years he has learned to cope. Shange said there were challenges as he suffered from depression after being hospitalised for many months with diabetes and meningitis.

The thesis for his Master of Commerce degree was titled: Key Success Factors for Implementing a Workplace Skills Plan: A Case Study of the Limpopo Department of Education. Shange’s work was supervised by UKZN academic Dr Thea van der Westhuizen and it is based on the research supported in part by the National Research Foundation of South Africa.

‘As a football player I wanted nothing to do with books, I only attended school out of respect for my parents and because of the school’s football club where I was a member,’ said Shange.

However, his priorities changed and his academic qualifications now include a Bachelor of Arts degree as well as a Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership and Management from UKZN, a Postgraduate Diploma in Management from Regents and an honours degree from MANCOSA!

Shange is currently employed as a Human Capital Development Practitioner at the SA Social Security Agency in Nelspruit. He previously worked in the skills and training unit of the Department of Education in Limpopo, which led to his research interests in the area of skills development.

He remembers being encouraged by medical staff in the hospital and his mother to go back to school and he later heeded the call and enrolled at Zamokuhle Special School in the Eastern Cape. ‘When I met other students with disabilities I decided to take life head on.’

While at Zamokuhle, Shange interacted with blind UKZN student Ms Zodwa Zwane and that boosted his confidence and he later registered as a UKZN student.

He commended UKZN for the support it gives students living with disabilities.

Shange has written a short story about his life titled: Eliminating the Limits and is currently translating it from English into isiZulu with plans to launch it in the public arena before the end of the year.

Words: Hazel Langa