Thulani Shikwambane’s disability status never discouraged and derailed him from achieving his goals in life. He also never allows his family background to confuse his studies.
Tenacity Magazine: Who is this brilliant Thulani Shikwambane?
Thulani Shikwambane: Ok, where do I start…fine Thulani is the last born of unemployed mother Flora Ngobeni. I am a 21 years old boy from Mbhaula Village in Giyani Limpopo. I was born with no disability and I came across the Glaucoma challenge while in Grade 2. I grew up as a naughty boy who always wanted to know everything around me. I went to several hospitals including Mankweng and George Mkhari in Garankuwa for eye operations.
Tenacity Magazine: How did you cope with the new life experience of living with disability?
Thulani Shikwambane: It was difficult to cope with the new life challenge but the support I got from my family especially my mother was enough to give courage. She took all her efforts to ensure that I get a space at Rivoni Special School for me to study with the equipments related to my new life. I was partially sighted in 2006 when I was admitted at the school but in 2010 the total system of my eyes collapsed and I became totally blind.
Tenacity Magazine: You continued to push harder in your studies until you pass Matric. How did you do this?
Thulani Shikwambane: I told myself that education is the only way to direct me in life. I wrote Matric and become the Top learner from the Schools of those living with disabilities in the province. I also became the Number 1 at the National level with Home Language- Xitsonga. I managed to do all these because when loosing focus I remind myself of the poor background that I want to eradicate. My brother passed Matric and they are struggling with no work, only one of them is working as a Security officer.
Tenacity Magazine: What are you currently doing and where are you studying?
Thulani Shikwambane: I am currently studying Bachelor of Administration at University of Limpopo. And that’s not what I wanted but due to space at the University I found the faculty of Law full and I had to take the Bachelor Admin.
Tenacity Magazine: So do you still want to continue and pursue your Law degree or you are fine with what you are currently studying?
Thulani Shikwambane: No, I am not done with it and I will make sure that I achieve my law degree. Just after I finish my Honours degree in Bachelor Administration I will switch in to Law and further my studies in my favorite faculty.
Tenacity Magazine: Now that you are in a new environment and no longer at Rivoni School for the blinds where you knew everything, how are you coping with the University life?
Thulani Shikwambane: At the University we are now using computers more than Braille machine and I was not much familiar with it. I am learning the new skills but it is bit difficult. I am however, focusing much on achieving the best.
Tenacity Magazine: There are those learners who would like to know how you made it. What message can you give them?
Thulani Magazine: For every child to focus, parents must be in the forefront and guide them. I got all the strength from my mother and I told myself that I am not going to disappoint her and myself. That’s what kept me focused with my eyes on the ball.