An Interview with Top Achiver, Thulani Shikwambane

Thulani Shikwambane’s disability status never discouraged and derailed him from achieving his goals in life. He also never allows his family background to confuse his studies.

Tenacity Magazine: Who is this brilliant Thulani Shikwambane?

Thulani Shikwambane: Ok, where do I start…fine Thulani is the last born of unemployed mother Flora Ngobeni. I am a 21 years old boy from Mbhaula Village in Giyani Limpopo. I was born with no disability and I came across the Glaucoma challenge while in Grade 2. I grew up as a naughty boy who always wanted to know everything around me. I went to several hospitals including Mankweng and George Mkhari in Garankuwa for eye operations.

Tenacity Magazine: How did you cope with the new life experience of living with disability?

Thulani Shikwambane: It was difficult to cope with the new life challenge but the support I got from my family especially my mother was enough to give courage. She took all her efforts to ensure that I get a space at Rivoni Special School for me to study with the equipments related to my new life. I was partially sighted in 2006 when I was admitted at the school but in 2010 the total system of my eyes collapsed and I became totally blind.

Tenacity Magazine: You continued to push harder in your studies until you pass Matric. How did you do this?

Thulani Shikwambane: I told myself that education is the only way to direct me in life. I wrote Matric and become the Top learner from the Schools of those living with disabilities in the province. I also became the Number 1 at the National level with Home Language- Xitsonga. I managed to do all these because when loosing focus I remind myself of the poor background that I want to eradicate. My brother passed Matric and they are struggling with no work, only one of them is working as a Security officer.

Tenacity Magazine: What are you currently doing and where are you studying?

Thulani Shikwambane: I am currently studying Bachelor of Administration at University of Limpopo. And that’s not what I wanted but due to space at the University I found the faculty of Law full and I had to take the Bachelor Admin.

Tenacity Magazine: So do you still want to continue and pursue your Law degree or you are fine with what you are currently studying?

Thulani Shikwambane: No, I am not done with it and I will make sure that I achieve my law degree. Just after I finish my Honours degree in Bachelor Administration I will switch in to Law and further my studies in my favorite faculty.

Tenacity Magazine: Now that you are in a new environment and no longer at Rivoni School for the blinds where you knew everything, how are you coping with the University life?

Thulani Shikwambane: At the University we are now using computers more than Braille machine and I was not much familiar with it. I am learning the new skills but it is bit difficult. I am however, focusing much on achieving the best.

Tenacity Magazine: There are those learners who would like to know how you made it. What message can you give them?

Thulani Magazine: For every child to focus, parents must be in the forefront and guide them. I got all the strength from my mother and I told myself that I am not going to disappoint her and myself. That’s what kept me focused with my eyes on the ball.

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