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Ms Nokubonga Mazibuko (center).

Ms Nokubonga Mazibuko was raised by her unemployed aunt under harsh conditions in the Folweni Township in the Umbumbulu area.

Despite the challenges, she was determined to succeed and drew strength from the words of Nelson Mandela that ‘education is the only weapon we can use to change the world we live in’.

After completing her early education at Folweni Primary School, she moved to Okumhlophe Secondary School where she matriculated in 2008 before starting her studies on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus in 2009.

Now she has received an Honours degree cum laude in Gender Studies and is registered for a Masters in Anthropology supervised by Dr Maheshvari Naidu.

Mazibuko, who is researching alternative constructions of masculinities/sexualities in various townships, says she is excited by her current master’s study as probing and writing about gendered roles from a critical stance is where her interest lies.

 ‘Losing my mom to HIV-related illnesses at the age of eight taught me to be strong. I didn’t have a matric and because of that I was scorned by some people. I knew the only way I could shame them was through education. Today, all the people who said negative things about me respect the person I have become. I thank God for my aunt who sacrificed her life to ensure that I went to school,’ said Mazibuko.

Apart from her graduation another big event in her life is her marriage to her fiancé, Mr Naledi Ngidi, later this month!

Her future plans also include completing her master’s degree and to go on to a PhD. She also wants to travel and study abroad.

Said her supervisor Dr Naidu: ‘Nokwanda impresses me with her vivacious and determined character and her tenacious spirit. I wish her well in the marriage…and of course in her master’s study.’