Nosiba Ndlovu’s unconventional upbringing has provided her with the grounding to overcome the challenge of university – and develop a pragmatic approach to life.
Nosiba Ndlovu had a rather unconventional upbringing: she and her brother were raised by no less than four uncles, each of whom is a father figure to her. “l am that child it took a village to raise,” she laughs.
Her father passed away when she was little, and his brothers stepped in to nurture Nosiba and her brother. “Although at times l’d wonder what it’s like growing up in a normal household, l never really felt that there was something or someone missing, and of course one could ask: ‘what is normal?’ she reflects.
Though they were themselves young at the time, each of her uncles was a father figure to her, and “each played a crucial role in my development, while also, much later, raising their own families,” adds Nosiba.
It’s little wonder that Nosiba’s strongest childhood memory of home is the feeling of being rich. “It wasn’t really your conventional mansion, but that small 2-bedroomed house in Bellevue East, Johannesburg, was filled with love, care and joy. You can imagine my surprise when it hit me a couple of years later that rich people don’t really live like we did,” she says.
School, too was a breeze for Nosiba who “enjoyed my high school experience” because, she says, the teachers at Liberty Community College were very supportive. “My favourite subject in high school was maths, because it challenged me the most. It forced me to broaden my thinking, to put in the most effort and to be humble about asking for help when facing difficulties,” explains Nosiba. “I also enjoyed economics and accounting,” she adds, explaining that this prompted her to pursue a BCom degree at the University of Pretoria.
Though she recently graduated with an Honours in tax, and now thrives at her job as an insurance claims administrator at PayCorp, Nosiba admits that university was not quite the experience she had hoped for, largely because she set high expectations for herself: ““l hated it. l honestly hated everything about university – from the noodles to the tuts,” she confesses.
Fortunately, Nosiba had support, in the form of the Moshal Scholarship. “I heard about the program through the Tomorrow Trust, and being accepted into the program was a dream come true. It meant that someone chose me, someone saw potential in me and believed in me as much as l believed in myself,” she says.
The scholarship also provided Nosiba with the support she needed to see her studies through when the going got tough. The driven young girl who received distinctions in her favourite subjects in matric, found herself constantly measuring her happiness and success against her academic progress at university, and now realizes that: “Maybe l was too ambitious.”
Expectations vs reality
Unhappy, she turned to one of the scholarship coordinators for help. “She made me realize that high school had become a mirror which reflected how l was doing in life as a whole. So if I received 9 out of 10 at school, l thought I was doing very well in life. She showed me that school is just a part of my life, which is how l now take my work as well: a bad day at work, isn’t really a bad life. It’s a glass of water, another chapter of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fudge by Mark Manson – and then we live to win another day,” says Nosiba pragmatically.
“l’ve looked up to a lot of people in my life, most of whom are in my family, l have seen them go through a lot and grow from it,” notes Nosiba. She is also a fan of the late US author and poet Maya Angelou. “l’ve learnt a lot from her interviews and books, one that comes to mind right now is that: ‘We sometimes think that we can be better than another person. The truth is no human being could be more human than another human being. You can be younger and prettier and finer and richer, but you can’t be more human.’”
Nosiba is an avid reader. “l read before l go to bed most nights. Most of what l spend my time on lately is either really fun or enriches my mental, and or emotional wellbeing,” she explains. She is further motivated, she adds, by a heart-shaped motivational board in her bed which reads: ‘May l never forget that l need God on my good days as desperately as l did on my worst day.’ Fortunately for Nosiba, with the challenge of university over and her career in full swing, the good days now far outweigh the bad.