Trust bursary recipients break boundaries

University of Cape Town students Takalani Yolanda Tshililo, 24, from Mont Clare, and Seònaid Kabiah, 21, from Rocklands, beat the odds to complete their tertiary studies.

Young women are encouraging each other to thrive through their excellence and colour outside the lines to rewrite their destiny.

Speaking at the Mitchell’s Plain Bursary and Role Model Trust (MPBRMT) awards lunch at Cedar High School of the Arts, in Rocklands, on Saturday July 27 (“Bursary fund aids 87 students”, Plainsman July 31), recipient Seònaid Kabiah, 21, from Rocklands, said it was amazing to be in the hall with a group of people stepping into their excellence and “truly rising to something bigger and better”.

Seònaid hopes to complete a Bachelor of Arts, having majored in sociology and Afrikaans; and social development as an elective, at the end of this year.

She has been a trust recipient and living in residence, since first year in 2017.

To emphasise that there were no limits to what people could achieve, she pointed out that a number of local artists featured in the latest rendition of the Lion King and its soundtrack.

One of the songs, she said, features SA “Queen of Gqom” Busiswa, who co-wrote the song My Power, sung by Moonchild Sanelly.

“She sings in her home language and I love that because I think it’s so important to remain authentic.”

She added: “There’s no need to hide your coloured accent in the workplace or university space. It’s not a measure of intelligence.”

Seònaid says in the song she sings in Zulu “Ningangabazi Amandla am”, which means “Don’t doubt my power”.

“This is a mantra, to remind us that we should not doubt our power because we come from the Cape Flats and it is also a reminder to the world out there not to doubt our power.

“When you doubt your powers, you give power to your doubts,” she said.

Seònaid is deputy chairperson of Ubunye, a non-profit student-led organisation at the university.

It has three projects which provide capacity-building programmes to under-resourced high schools. Since being at university Seònaid has worked on Inkanyezi, TeachOut and the Thethani Debating league which focus on mentoring, tutoring and developing critical thinking and skills, respectively.

Seònaid and other trust recipient Takalani Yolanda Tshililo, 24, from Mont Clare, met with the Plainsman on the steps of the Jameson Hall at UCT, on Friday August 2, a week before national Women’s Day, Friday August 9.

On this day in 1956, 20 000 women of all races marched to the Union Buildings, in defiance of apartheid’s discriminatory pass laws, which had restricted the movement of black people in the country.

It recognises the important and significant role that political activism by women played during the struggle for liberation against colonisation and apartheid.

Takalani is a Master of Philosophy in Development Studies candidate, who also lives in residence.

She wants to attempt her doctoral degree in two years’ time, when she is “emotionally and psychologically ready” to research the migration of women within and outside of South Africa.

“You have to believe in what you want. You face challenges and you have to persevere, beyond the cooking, cleaning, child rearing and wifely duties,” she said.

She said often women were boxed in.

“We have to break those boundaries and make use of other opportunities, previously only meant for men but most importantly to support and build each other,” she said.

Takalani registered at UCT two years after another student had told her it was “impossible” to get in.

This motivated her to challenge this student.

“I accepted the challenge and I got here. This has become my home,” she said.

She has applied to present her paper at a conference in October, which could expose her to other like-minded people to help make a difference.

Takalani said it was tough being at university and a bit of a culture shock, and that she struggled to fit it at first. However, she added, it was important not to lose oneself.

Seònaid said many people had had a hand in her being at university.

“I feel it is important to give back, and contribute to the community who shaped me. I am who I am because of them,” she said.

In accordance with an agreement between the students and the trust, recipients must return to their school and their neighbourhood to share who they were and what change happened in their lives.

“Thank you to the MPBRMT for investing in us and passing down that ‘fruit’ (baton).

“We will be sure to do the same and create legacies within our community of Mitchell’s Plain.

“Thank you for giving us the opportunity and avenue to create powerful and positive legacies, said Seònaid.