A tear lingers on my lower eye lid as I scroll down to the next paragraph of the bursary information page. I never would’ve thought that that was all it would take. It should’ve taken a bit more. My own self destruction, perhaps. But no. Three words was all it took to trample on my aspirations of being a Chartered Accountant. Could I still unwaveringly stand firm and refer to myself as a young ambitious African woman? After those three words that stood firm as the first requirement by the bursar.

South African citizen.

What use is ambition without the means to realise it?

My mind wanders off to the day when my smile shone brighter than the afternoon sun, the day that I received my matric statement of results. After much anticipation, my hard work had eventually paid off, my future had been guaranteed.

“With those marks, there is no way that you’ll not secure a bursary,” my Economics teacher had triumphantly said as she extended a hand to congratulate me. It was not my moment, but ours. It was not my victory, but ours. Had it not been for her guidance, I would not be one step closer to stepping into the gates of the University of the Witwatersrand; a few years closer to being a Chartered Accountant. Those who proclaimed that I wouldn’t make it would surely be weary when they heard that I’d made it.

Scrolling to the next page didin’t reassure me much. It’s all the same. No bursaries will fund anyone from the other side of the border. We all live under the same sky, but some are deemed worthy of the finer things, whilst others have to slave for the scrubs. Privilege, is what they call it. I’d always thought that it was something only white people possessed. I never realised that my black South African brothers and sisters had it as well. In their case, it is, ‘Being born in South Africa privilege’.

I thought that my ten years of being a resident of South Africa combined with my excellence would automatically qualify me as a deserving recipient of any bursary. Oh, how unreasonably high I’d raised my hopes.

Education is the key but my academic achievements aren’t key enough to allow me access into a higher learning institution.

I close all the websites I’d visited and delete the history as well. I cannot make the mistake of leaving evidence of my disillusionment lingering about. How dare I think that I could be deserving of such an accolade.

In a short space of time, celebration of my matric success turned into worry of securing funding.

“Have you applied for NSFAS?” my former classmate asks of me a few days later.

“No, I didn’t,” I reply briefly, with no explanation.

“Why haven’t you? Don’t you know that applications close in a few days?”

“I don’t need NSFAS, I’ll be studying through UNISA.”

“What?” Horror spreads across her face, “UNISA is for old people.”

I do not have it in me to explain my predicament. I do not scorn her for referring to my future University as an old age home. I too, once upon a time held such sentiments. That was before I encountered my ‘aha’ moment. What an ‘aha’ it certainly was, for it brought me to instant realisation.

My hand shivers as a googled what I thought I would only google in upcoming four years, after I had graduated. Vacancies for new matriculants.

The brutal unfairness of life dawned on me when I realised that I couldn’t afford to go to one of the cheapest university’s in the country. My UNISA registration awaited payment for it to be finalised.

I hungered for my education, the source of my emancipation. It is only through education that the child of a domestic worker can become someone great.

It takes a village to raise a child. My aunt understood my predicament and offered to pay for my registration. Where I get the remaining fees is totally up to me. One thing I’m sure of is that I will be an educated woman.

Life isn’t fair to anyone, the universe doesn’t owe me a thing and we may all live under the same sky but we are not all meant to lead a hassle free life. My aha moment shaped the me that I have become.


Tell us: What do you think about the writer’s determination to study despite the lack of funds?