South Africa

“We are so rich in love”: Tears of joy as a DUT student, mother remembers the arduous journey to graduation

Nontokozo Ntuli and his mother Sebenzile embrace each other after graduating from the Durban University of Technology with a teaching degree.

  • Durban University of Technology graduate Sebenzile Ntuli’s mother Nontokozo Ntuli couldn’t hold back her tears when her daughter received her degree.
  • The couple endured many hardships over the years before Nontokozo was able to obtain his degree in education.
  • Nontokozóz once had to drop out of university due to financial difficulties at home, but despite a 10-year journey, he got his qualification this week.

Sebenzile Ntuli and her daughter Nontokozo became emotional as they recalled the hardships and struggles their family endured to enable her to complete her teaching degree.

Nontokozo completed her teaching degree at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and was overcome with emotion at her graduation at the Royal Show Grounds in Pietermaritzburg.

Sebenzile, a resident of Sweetwaters in Pietermaritzburg, also experienced an outpouring of emotion and broke down in tears when Nontokozo received her degree.

Sebenzile screamed loudly as her daughter took the stage, barely able to contain her excitement.

Speaking about their struggles, she said finances were tight while Nontokozo was working on her degree.

He said:

I had to borrow money to register my child at DUT because he had no money. His journey was extremely difficult, I remember the time when he got sick and had to stop his studies because he couldn’t take it anymore.

“He couldn’t even concentrate on his studies, I even lost track of how many years it took him to complete this degree,” Sebenzile added.

While the Ntuli’s financial woes continued, Nontokozo managed to secure a Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) scholarship in his final year.

“God came through for me,” he said as he thanked his mother and family for their continued support.

“I also want to thank my husband who helped me with my studies when I was struggling. I also want to thank my late father who would be very proud of me today if he was still alive,” said Nontokozo.

He currently works as a teacher at Mlulama Secondary School in Hopewell.

“The Journey We’ve Taken”

Speaking to News24, Nontokozo said he was never willing to study but was determined to follow through with his studies to support his family.

“When I finished the vignette, I refused to study and didn’t have the money to register.”

He added that his mother’s and late father’s love shone through at that moment.

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“My mom went to the city by taxi, she was sitting on the steps of a municipal building, and she didn’t know where to find money. A woman came and asked why she was sitting there, she said that her child had passed the sticker, but he couldn’t go to college.

“The woman gave him 50 rupees, the only money she had, and my mother returned home. She used the money to buy airtime to call my late father’s boss, a metered taxi owner.”

Nontokozo said his late father’s boss gave him a loan and he managed to register as a student at DUT.

Nontokozo Ntuli and her mother hugging

Nontokozo Ntuli and her mother suffered financial hardships and losses during the 10-year journey to graduate.

Delivered DUT

But despite the registration, things didn’t get any easier.

“I couldn’t get NSFAS funding and there was one for health [two-year gap when] I did not feel well. I was always sick. I was always hospitalized during the tests.”

After his father’s death, his family could barely make ends meet.

“I had to quit again and find a job where I earned R3 500 a month, but I had to do something for my family. Later, when I got a scholarship, I was able to go back to my studies.”

Nontokozo said most of her R3 500 salary was spent on family expenses.

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“It wasn’t easy by the time I took my salary home, I had to pay rent, buy food, clothes, I couldn’t buy my things.”

She added that God’s blessing in her life was her husband.

“God sent my husband, helped me finish my studies, married me and helped me in everything, including actually studying.”

Nontokozo said that while his family struggled financially, they were still rich.

“We are a poor family, but we are so rich in love, we have something that most families don’t have. They value money and material things; we value and love each other very much.”


“We are so rich in love”: Tears of joy as a DUT student, mother remembers the arduous journey to graduation

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