Former vendor becomes family’s first graduate, at age 40

Read time: 3 mins

A few years ago, Nomandithini Metu was selling cooked food at a taxi rank, today the 40-year-old from Nxamkwana Village outside Mdantsane is graduating with a Bachelor of Nursing during the UFH 2022 Spring Graduation.

Metu, a divorcee and single parent to three children aged between 7 and 18 years, says her journey to graduation was not easy but a rewarding one.

Born last of six children, Metu and her siblings were raised by unemployed parents until 1990 when her father passed away, leaving her mother to raise them.

“My parents were not educated and none of my siblings completed high school. Despite this, I looked up to other family members who were working as professionals and I always aspired to be like them.”

“I completed my primary schooling and went to high school where I was identified as one of the top learners. I obtained my matric in 2001 which I passed with an exemption.”

Pressed by the situation at home, Metu decided to park her dream of studying further and go look for a job to provide for her family.

“I started working as a cashier at a local tavern in order to put on the table. Whilst at it, the urge to study further never went away and I decided to revisit that dream.”

Metu first applied to Lovedale College where she completed a qualification Marketing Management in 2008, then went on to work at a local food retailer as a cashier and front-end controller.

“A few years later, I got a call from a relative who presented me with an opportunity to sell food out of a shipping container at the Highway taxi rank in Mdantsane.

“There I sold friend liver and braaied chicken wings. I also sold clothes where I got a commission from the sales.”

While pushing her business, she once again decided to give education another go. “This time I applied to Buffalo City College for a qualification in electrical engineering. Unfortunately, because I was not passionate about the programme, I did not complete the course.”

Giving it her final go, she applied to the University of Fort Hare and was accepted and commenced with her studies toward a Bachelor of Nursing in 2017.

“Growing up I wanted to be a Doctor to help people who are sick.  Being a nurse is the closest to being a Doctor because I can still help people who are ill.”

While waiting for funding in her first year, Metu continued with her business to sustain her during the first semester of her studies.  She also encountered other challenges such as financial struggles and medical problems. “There were times that I wanted to just give up but then I remembered why I started this journey – which was in search of a better life for me and my family.”

Currently Metu is doing her community service at Cloete Joubert Hospital in Barkley East.

“I did this to improve the lives of my family members, to build my mother a house and also to prove to myself and others that anything and everything is possible when you keep pushing.”