Feebearing - Cape Town - 140714 - Ntsikelelo Magwaca is in his first year at CPUT for Graphic Design after he was discovered in the V&A Waterfront by a fellow student. Pictured: Ntsikelelo with some of his favourite projects recently completed. REPORTER: ILSE FREDERICKS. PICTURE: WILLEM LAW.


Cape Town - A student’s decision to take five minutes of his lunch break to help a stranger has helped a young artist fulfil his lifelong dream.

Luxolo Ganca, a public relations management student at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, was at the V&A Waterfront’s amphitheatre at the end of December when he was struck by the “impressive” self-portrait Ntsikelelo Magwaca was sketching.

“I decided to introduce myself and we started chatting. We talked about school and so on and he told me he was looking for a job.”

But Ganca said he realised that a job would not completely change Magwaca’s situation and that what he really needed was to further his education.

“I realised that there was still time for him to get into university so we exchanged numbers.”

They later arranged to meet at the university in January where Ganca would try to help Magwaca enrol for the graphic design course.

“I made sure that he had all his documents and had to juggle a bit between work and going to the university to try and get him a place. I was worried that I would give him too much hope because there was no guarantee that he would get in.”

Magwaca, who lives in Khayelitsha with his aunt and two brothers, said being asked by the university to make changes to his portfolio within 24 hours was one of first challenges.

“I didn’t sleep that night.”

But his hard work paid off and he was accepted into the extended curriculum programme in graphic design.

Magwaca, 20, whose older brother, a general worker, was the family’s sole breadwinner, said finding the money to pay his registration fees was the next hurdle.

A Khayelitsha businessman came to his rescue.

“It was my dream to go to university, but I never thought it would happen. I was so excited. My family are so proud. I’m the first person in the family to go to university.”

Magwaca could, however, not afford the equipment kit used by graphic design students and had to wait until other students had completed their assignments before he could start

“This meant that I sometimes had to start a day before the due date and it affected the quality of my work.”

After the university learnt about this, a kit was provided.

Magwaca, who recently learnt he would be awarded a full bursary and has been given a spot in one of the university residences, said he would always be thankful to Ganca.

“He’s my mentor and always motivates me. I thank God for sending him my way. He has changed my life.”

Lecturer Amanda Morris said: “Generally Ntsikelelo’s work is not the kind of portfolio we normally get from a first-time applicant. It showed a lot of natural ability and I was really amazed at the level of talent I saw. I took one look at his self-portrait and knew that he was definitely accepted. Sometimes students draw what they think they are seeing, but with Ntsikelelo it is clear that he draws what he really sees and that is rare in someone with no training. His portfolio was one of the best to ever cross my desk.”

CPUT vice-chancellor Dr Prins Nevhutalu, who shared Magwaca’s story at a university council meeting resulting in the bursary, said: “For many young people life is gloomy, but that is not the end of the world. If you get an opportunity, take advantage of it and do the best you can. This is the wonderful message that these young men have taught the rest of South Africa – that indeed the country can be a better place even for the very poor.”

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Cape Argus