THE heart-wrenching life story of Isikhoba Nombewu Technical High School’s top matric, Andile Kwebulana, caused senior government officials and traditional leaders to weep at a function on Friday.
Kwebulana received a R10 000 bursary from the Spokes Foundation for finishing top of his class in last year’s matric final exams.
Speaking at the bursary handover at Sikhobeni village near Cofimvaba, Kwebulana, 21, told of his love for education and how his father had tried several times to force him to quit school and suggested he rather go and work on the mines.
He also told of how he became a street kid after his father chased him away from home in Cape Town.
He said his woes started when his mother died in 2003 and he went to stay with his father, Luzuko Kwebulana, in the Western Cape.
“In 2005, I became a street kid and ran away from my abusive father. I was on the streets until December 2006 when my uncle, Vakele Kwebulana fetched me and sent me to their parental home in Cofimvaba. I stayed with another uncle, Makhaya Kwebulana,” he said.
He said his father came back and chased both of them away.
“I had to stay with other relatives who had their own children to look after. Despite all these challenges I never surrendered unto my problems. God guided me through. I have not and will never allow my situation to craft my destiny. I built a strong, strong foundation for my future from my challenges,” he said.
In 2009 while doing Grade 10 he was admitted to Santa Hospital in East London for six months after being diagnosed with TB. “I returned to school in 2010 doing Grade 10, but my father insisted that I quit,” he said.
He said after coming home from initiation school in 2011 his father again told him to forget about school.
“For six weeks I did not go to school as I decided to quit in order to satisfy my father.
“,My teachers and uncles advised me not to surrender, saying that education is the key to success and does not come easy.”
He said his suffering had made him realise that there are Good Samaritans out there.
“There are good people out there who love and care for others, people who are prepared to go the extra mile to assist others.
“The challenges created more friends, fathers and mothers for me. People embraced me as their own child. My teachers became my parents.
“My former class teacher Miss [Thandiswa] Dlayi became my mother, doing everything for me,” said Kwebulana, crying with his uncle, Vakele, and bringing tears to the eyes of VIP guests and teachers at the function.
“Last year I made a covenant with God that if I passed matric and got a bursary I would forgive my father, look after him and make him the proudest dad ever.
“My prayers have been answered and it is for for me to deliver on the promise I made to God,” he said.
Dlayi said Kwebulana was an “amazing” child.
“Despite all the challenges, he managed to come top. He has great potential,” she said.
Called later by the Daily Dispatch for comment, Kwebulana’s father, Luzuko said: “I just wanted him to quit school and work while studying since I had no money for schooling.
“Now I am happy for him and thankful for those who looked after him.” — firstname.lastname@example.org