Acts of compassion make young man’s graduation day possible

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Twenty-four-year-old Siphamandla Magananda had no plans of walking the graduation stage on Friday to collect his Bachelor of Science degree, sadly because he had no means of affording an attire to wear to this significant occasion in his life.

The young man from Dutywa, the first graduate in his family, took a selfless decision to miss this milestone to relieve his single mother, who solely depends on his younger siblings’ government child grant, from the costs.

However, his friend and classmate, Sakhumzi Kwaza and staff from the Vice-Chancellor’s Office and the Fort Hare Foundation rallied together to make the day possible for him. Siphamandla walked the stage draped in the dignified black and gold UFH Alumni Blazer and a full graduation attire - thanks to acts of compassion that were set in motion by a letter written by Sakhumzi to the VC, highlighting Siphamandla’s plight.

Part of Sakhumzi’s letter that was emailed to the VC, unbeknown to Siphamandla read as follows: “I am asking for help from you, if you have something please help him. I have R200 towards the hiring of a graduation attire for him, which costs between R550 and R900.”

Within hours of receiving the email, the VC’s office staff sprang into action. Ms Zuki Mabombo who is the Manager of the Office and Khanyi Gola, who is a Senior Administrator, located the two friends and spoke to Siphamandla to find out how they could assist him.

According to Ms Mabombo, his plea was to get a suit and a graduation attire. “We offered to secure him a Fort Hare blazer instead and he was delighted, saying he would be honoured to wear the black and gold blazer.”

The blazer was secured through the Institutional Advancement Office.

Ms Nokulunga Mnqetha, Fort Hare Foundation Director and Ms Mabombo topped up the R200 contribution by Sakhumzi to make the total amount to hire the graduation attire.

Speaking ahead of his graduation, Siphamandla said he was overwhelmed with emotions. “I had no hope of attending graduation because I know the financial situation back home, does not allow.”

“I am grateful to everyone involved in making my graduation day possible. It really means a lot to me,” he said.

The two friends who met in 2018 during their first year are currently doing their Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Computer Science.

Sakhumzi said he was unwilling to walk the stage alone, without his friend. “We started our undergrad journey together, we had to conclude it together. We worked hard to get to this stage and graduating was a moment for us to celebrate.”

Delivering his opening speech during the Faculty of Science and Agriculture graduation ceremony the VC mentioned the two friends and shared their story with the graduands and parents in attendance.

The VC commended Sakhumzi and the staff involved for being good Fort Hare citizens and congratulated the duo.