Six A’s for Vuwani’s big star

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When Pa­tience Sed­imela saw the deeply de­mor­al­is­ing images of her torched class­room beamed out on tele­vi­sion news, she thought it was all over for her.

But she soon re­placed her de­s­pair with sheer de­ter­mi­na­tion.

“I could not bear the thought of re­peat­ing my matric year. It all felt like the sting of a nee­dle go­ing through my spine. But I re­fused to al­low cir­cum­stances to de­lay my dream. I was not go­ing to let any­thing stand in my way of go­ing to univer­sity so that I could ease my fam­ily’s fi­nan­cial hard­ships,” she says.

Four months af­ter the end of the vi­o­lent protests that had swept through Vuwani’s vil­lages, Sed­imela’s de­ter­mi­na­tion has earned her six dis­tinc­tions, in­clud­ing for math­e­mat­ics and phys­i­cal sci­ence. She is the pride of Vhafamadi Sec­ondary School in Mashau vil­lage.

Raised by a sin­gle mother who sup­ported her two daugh­ters by sell­ing sweets on the street, Sed­imela (18) has cleared all of 2016’s hur­dles. But there are still some ahead.

Her smile fades when she’s asked about her plans for this year.

“Me­dunsa [Se­fako Mak­gatho Health Sci­ence Univer­sity] has ac­cepted me for study in medicine this year ... BUT,” she pauses.

“I haven’t had any pos­i­tive re­sponse from any of the pos­si­ble sponsors I had writ­ten to last year. I guess they also thought: Vuwani chil­dren were not go­ing to make it.

“For now, I would just bask in the glory of my achieve­ment, while I pray for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance.

“Last year wasn’t easy, but noth­ing can beat de­ter­mi­na­tion, even in the ugli­est of sit­u­a­tions. And I have not lost one bit of my de­ter­mi­na­tion.”

Sed­imela had at­tended one of the 73 schools that were closed by residents in an at­tempt to pres­surise the gov­ern­ment to re­verse its de­ci­sion to in­cor­po­rate Vuwani into the Mala­mulele mu­nic­i­pal­ity. Sub­se­quently at home for three full months, Sed­imela sol­diered on and stud­ied on her own. “I went through my notes over and over again, did the same with my text­books, and grabbed and stud­ied any past ex­am­i­na­tion pa­per I could lay my hands on.” Un­der the cir­cum­stances she was aim­ing at merely achiev­ing an or­di­nary pass. “And that was sad, be­cause I knew it would not al­low me to go to univer­sity and study medicine. But I could not just give up,” she says. “I was haunted by thoughts of a sud­den an­nounce­ment that we were go­ing to have to re­peat our grades, but still I prayed, and held on to the hope that the protest would come to an end and we would get back to class.” Sed­imela and thou­sands of oth­ers went back to school af­ter the Au­gust lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions, and she grasped ev­ery op­por­tu­nity for ex­tra time at school, in­clud­ing re­cov­ery pro­grammes and a gov­ern­ment-funded study camp. “I knew al­ready while at­tend­ing the camp, where we re­vised ev­ery­thing, that I was gear­ing up for higher marks. I am more than happy at my achieve­ment, the fruit of my hard work and sweat,” she stresses. Sed­imela’s principal, Mashau Thenga, wishes all his pupils could have shown the same en­thu­si­asm. “We had 147 ma­tric­u­lants and 89 of them passed, in­clud­ing 32 with bach­e­lor passes. “Most of those who did not make it are those who did not co­op­er­ate and who failed to at­tend our study camp,” the principal said.

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Pa­tience Sed­imela

Nyam­beni Lidzhade

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