Mbatha danced and ululated when her niece had her media, marketing and cultural studies degree conferred upon her.
Nongcebo’s shy parents looked on from a distance and watched as their relative rejoiced inside the university’s sport centre.
Nongcebo, 22, the youngest of three children, whose mum is a traditional healer and dad a taxi owner, became the first graduate in her family.
“Now you understand why it means a lot to my parents,” said Nongcebo, from Estcourt.
She said she was overcome with emotion and felt like she had redeemed herself. She had fallen pregnant after she completed matric at Durban Girls High school and has a 4-year-old daughter.
“I was overwhelmed and happy to see my aunt do that,” she said recalling the graduation moment.
“But part of the tears are because so much has happened. I had to de-register in 2015 when I fell pregnant. When you have a child a lot of people think it’s over for you. But I remember telling my dad, who was obviously disappointed, that I will go back to university and I will finish my degree, for my family, my daughter and myself – I owe everyone that much,” she said.
As her aunt captivated the crowd at UKZN, her parents were among those looking on in tears.
“I was so overwhelmed and I was looking for my parents in the crowd, when I saw the relief in their faces and I saw them crying, it made everything worth it. To see my dad so happy for me felt like I was able to redeem myself,” she said.
Nongcebo said she was praying for a job so she could pay her R50 000 university debt and support her daughter.
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