Mphumezi Hombana, (42) has just received his second master's degree in Theology at Stellenbosch University (SU), despite the fact that everyone has discouraged him from this field of study.
"Where I come from, people judge you according to the grade you have in hand. The degree you earn must enable you to make money. Initially, I entered the degrees in Engineering and Accounting, but lost interest and discontinued them," says Hombana.
Hombana, who grew up in the Moses Mabida informal settlement near Kirkwood, says: "Living in an informal settlement in the 1970-1980's was difficult. My friends and I did not want to go to school. We smoked, drank and sometimes my parents did not even know where we were. The standard of training we received was of a very low standard. We learned English in isiXhosa. "
However, he later became involved in churches and felt called to study theology.
"I felt ashamed to study theology. I was not proud at all because I knew people at home would not think it would make enough money. Even my school teacher, who encouraged us to study further, said that I had to do something else with my life, " he said.
Hombana moved to the Western Cape in the early 2000's to start tertiary education at a local theological seminary near the Cape Flats.
But it was not easy. "During my undergraduate studies, I had to work as a general worker in a textile factory to survive," said Hombana.
Because Hombana knew that theology was his passion, he has maintained his "interest and calling".
Today he is grateful that he can be part of the SU community. "It's a privilege to have access to wonderful resources and to connect with the people in Stellenbosch. Studies at SU were definitely a learning curve and are very exciting. I have a community of friends at the Faculty of Theology that feels like family. I'm a better person because I'm part of the SU community, "he says.
Mphumezi is currently living with his wife and two daughters in Gugulethu where he is a pastor in the Gugulethu Baptist Church. He begins with his PhD at SU in 2019.
Photo: Stefan Els