Thokozani Nkosi: ‘How I turned my life around’

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Ladysmith’s Thokozani Nkosi, has travelled a long and hard road to achieve a dramatic change in a life that was being ruined by alcohol. On Wednesday, Nkosi graduated with an accounting qualification from the Durban University of Technology. Picture supplied.

Durban -Thokozani Nkosi’s early life story reads like a chapter out of the lives of so many young South Africans: he grew up in poverty, started drinking from Grade 8, went to classes drunk and had poor matric results. His biggest goal at the time was to be a truck driver. However, on Wednesday, he became a graduate.
Armed with a National Diploma in Accounting from the Durban University of Technology (DUT), Nkosi wanted to share his story. “I had no hope for my life, but my mindset changed and that saved me. There are youth out there who are like I was. There is nothing you can do with your life when you are busy with wrong things. Change your mindset and get out of your comfort zones,” said the 22-year-old.

Originally from the rural village of Matiwane, in Ladysmith, Nkosi was raised by his mother, who worked as a domestic worker. His situation left him uninspired to push for a better life.
“During that time I hated school. I had no ambition to study further. From Grade 8, I started drinking and even went to school drunk,” he said.
“For me, change only happened when I moved to Durban to upgrade my matric. I stayed with my cousin who was academically-minded and wise. He motivated me to get an education. Then I saw possibility.”

Ladysmith’s Thokozani Nkosi, right, has travelled a long and hard road to achieve a dramatic change in a life that was being ruined by alcohol. On Wednesday, Nkosi graduated with an accounting qualification from the Durban University of Technology.

Nkosi urged young people to stay clear of bad influences.
“All those things damage your life. Alcohol damaged my life. But look at me. I’ve been through it and I’ve made it. You can make it, too, but you have to change your mindset.”

In 2015, after improving his matric pass, Nkosi received an offer to study at DUT. He struggled to raise the acceptance and registration fees. He also missed deadlines to apply for a state student loan, which meant he also had no funding for accommodation. So he shared a flat with eight people in central Durban.
Surviving on R650 a month (R550 for rent, R100 to make ends meet) given to him by his mother, he persevered. After enrolling, his studies became his focus.

“In the first semester, I knew that I needed to pass all my modules with distinction in order to get funding or fees exemption as I could not afford to pay for my fees. Luckily, I managed to obtain five distinctions and our executive dean helped me to register for the second semester. Again, in the second semester, I also had to obtain five distinctions.”

Fast-forward to yesterday and Nkosi walked off the graduation stage with a National Diploma in Accounting. He is also pursuing two qualifications, a B-Tech in Cost Management Accounting from DUT and an Advanced Diploma in Accounting Science from Unisa. “I won’t stop until I become a management accountant and a chartered accountant. That’s the goal now,” the proud graduate said.

Ladysmith’s Thokozani Nkosi, right, has travelled a long and hard road to achieve a dramatic change in a life that was being ruined by alcohol. On Wednesday, Nkosi graduated with an accounting qualification from the Durban University of Technology. Picture supplied.

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