Sunday, October 5, 2008

New meaning to the word "hero"

When we think of a hero we immediately think of someone who is strong, intelligent, and brave in an extreme situation, a warrior or a man admired for his outstanding achievements and noble qualities. An example of this prolonged definition would be Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Indeed he is. But many different qualities than these have become noticeable. Courage, honesty, selflessness, and persevere are just a few other. A person who has outlived difficult journeys, challenges, endures much resistance, and learnt valuable lessons about survival and self-reliance by just being in first year, should also be considered a hero, such a person is Q Mabuza.

In the eyes of many, 20 year old Qawekazi, a young Zimbabwean first year student is another type of hero that almost no one is aware of. Sitting curled up in her bed with her hands across her legs, she comes to consciousness and begins to tell me about her life as a first year, and the risk that came attached with it. She explained to me in great detail that as an international student the admission process to any university is not very easy, that the only way she could attend university was for her to receive a bursary and study accounting “like most international students at Rhodes”, she said, adamantly.

Through her determination of wanting to further her education she received a bursary and made her way to Rhodes University. Her second and beginning of third term at Rhodes was a very tiresome time for her, she hated and wanted to change her degree and because of her June examination results, was informed that her performance was not satisfactory and was at a risk of exclusion from the university. Thus she did what she had always wanted to do, she changed her degree and decided that she was going to major in Drama. “Lance Armstrong, the famous cyclist and more importantly, cancer survivor, has said 'if you ever get a second chance for something, you've got to go all the way.'” she said, with her crystal eyes staring at me and revealing the bright future that lies in front of her. She took that second chance as much as it was a risk.

Q had always wanted to study Drama but her parents would not allow her to. She justified her parent’s decision of refusing her to study Drama as the pressure of life’s social standards that parents need to maintain, which leads them to force their children into studying something that they are not passionate about. But Q became a survivor of her parents’ pressures into who she really was; a performer. Part of her challenging journey is the lie that she has kept from her parents, who currently believe that their daughter is studying accounting. “Its like fungi, it starts at one point and spreads through everything...eating away at my soul with every lie”, she said.

At the end of the year when her results come out, Q will have to explain to her parents why she changed her degree, in the hope that they will understand and her result will way the options in her direction; “so I’m a prisoner standing trial”, she exclaimed. In life many people make wrong choices that lead them to prison. She made a choice that is risky, but in the end, will free her of the shackles.

By Nkuli

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