The UKZN Law Graduation ceremony came to a standstill when LLB graduate Mr Njabulo Ntombela honoured his great-grandmother, Ms Nomkikilizo Ntombela (89), by leading her onto the graduation stage where she was ceremoniously capped and hooded!
Said Ntombela: ‘I had planned long ago to acknowledge the significant role played in my life by my great-grandmother.’
He said she had always been his pillar of strength, there to encourage him even though she did not get the opportunity to obtain a basic education herself.
‘I was surprised by her reaction when she ululated as my name was called out because she is a quiet and reserved individual. I was chuffed when she waved to the audience as she was being hooded.’
After his mother died when he was in Grade 7, his extended family and great- grandmother took on the responsibility of raising him for which, he says, he will be forever grateful, realising fully the sacrifices they made for him. ‘Going home during vacation was a challenge because I knew my great-grandmother would stretch her pension even further to cover my travel costs.’
Ntombela is keen to study for a Master of Laws degree in the area of Criminal Law but will leave that for later as he has decided to first focus on securing a position in a law firm so he can do his articles and be financially secure to fully support his young family.
He says his academic journey became challenging when his studies were disrupted in 2016 after he was detained for three weeks at New Prison in Pietermaritzburg facing charges related to the FeesMustFall movement protests.
Ntombela was the Interim Chairman of the Ibuya African Student Cultural Organisation which was launched on the Pietermaritzburg campus.
Words: Hazel Langa