Our stories are desperately begging to be told
By Sanele Bango, 24, Western Cape
A story of how I went from UCT-Africa’s leading institution, to redo my matric, a downgrade according to many. I vividly recall how a concerned friend of mine cautioned me against the move, just like everyone’s story is complex and multi-layered, so is mine. It is more than just a move from one place to another. As an ambitious kid, going to UCT has always been a dream, so when my hard work presented an opportunity for me to go to UCT, happy was an understatement, I was over the moon, I was overjoyed, I felt like the world is finally opening up to me.
I got to UCT and fortunately, it was around the time of #FeesMustFall, the student protest had started the previous year so when I got there, it was already in motion. The significance and the effect of fees must fall changed my life’s trajectory and is something I would one day discuss in length, but not today. I battle for words to characterise my experience at UCT during fees must fall and beyond. It was a bittersweet and a conflicting experience for me. It is like going to a place you like so much to only find out that you “don’t belong” because the environment or place is exclusive by something outside your control – UCT is very exclusionary and alienating in many levels from class to race.
My decision to leave UCT was the culmination of different factors, namely but not limited to, my inability to process and deal with the exclusionary nature of the university, career prospects, the weakened love for the course I was doing, my yearning to discover something I am passionate about and a long-overdue lingering desire to improve my symbols of maths and science in particular. I eventually took the difficult decision to leave my first love, UCT, understandably so because UCT is an excellent institution administratively and offers the best learning opportunities.
When leaving UCT, I had an exit plan but lo and behold, things took a different turn than I had anticipated as per my plan. I was supposed to have done a rewrite the year I left but unfortunately, I did not receive my confirmation letter for writing in time so I ended up not writing, fine, detours do happen along the road.
Came the following year, I registered to rewrite and then attended classes until such time set for the exams, I wrote but did not perform satisfactorily or as I wanted to. At this point I was faced with a decision of either going back to university because I had applied to do any course I qualify for or go back to high school full-time, the least popular decision amongst friends and family (mommy) understandably so, because I carry the hopes of my family, so now I was/ am ”wasting more time” and of course the talk of age. I chose the latter and went in full force and received fairly good results. I also enjoyed myself in the process of becoming a high school student again, more so academically, whilst trying to fix some of my previous matric mistakes. It is with greater joy to say now I am enrolled for an amazing yet challenging qualification, again a challenging path which I am now certain I will overcome and crossover to the other side.
My story is not special nor is it extraordinary but it begs to be desperately told, it is when we take the less travelled road when we discover the significance of our stories and the intrinsic value they carry. Your story matters the way it is.
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