Johannesburg – Economically disadvantaged first-year students from various South African universities walked away with expensive laptops on Friday as Zimbabwean company Zororo-Phumulani donated the computers for the second consecutive year.
South African-based Zororo-Phumulani, a funeral insurance products and repatriation service provider, runs an annual programme to assist needy students selected according to stringent criteria. This year, 40 students from institutions, including Wits and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, received brand-new Mecer laptops.
"As a company, we believe that acquiring knowledge through education is able to make a person overcome the past. When you acquire education you are able to change your own situation, you are able to face and fight obstacles in your life. When you have education you are able to make a situation better," Zororo-Phumulani founder and chief executive Edwin Anderson said at an event attended by the students, universities representatives, and diplomats from the Zimbabwean embassy.
"Laptops on their own will not make you pass exams. We believe the laptop is a basic tool that can make the process of acquiring knowledge very easy. As we hand over these laptops, we would like to urge other players to do all they can to empower the future generation through educational support. Knowledge is power," he said.
Zororo-Phumulani brand ambassador, charismatic Zimbabwean football legend Peter Ndlovu, said plans were afoot to make the awards ceremony bigger, reaching more needy students.
The Zimbabwe Migrants Support Network (ZIMSN) applauded Anderson's initiative, after Nelson Mandela University analytical chemistry student Ethel Mavaivai, who relies on her Port Elizabeth-based mother for support, also received a laptop at the glamorous event hosted in Johannesburg on Friday night.
"We are humbled with the work that Zororo-Phumulani has done. Ethel and her mother visited our office in January. They had lost hope. She had passed [matric], coming from a township school. She told me that she thought she doesn't qualify to be in university. She wanted to take a gap year and do some work, saving for her education. We have gone out and lobbied for funds and she got registered at university," said ZIMSN secretary general Shelton Chiyangwa.
On behalf of Zimbabwean ambassador in South Africa David Hamadziripi, Zimbabwean consul general Henry Mukonoweshuro said despite being struck by grief in the aftermath of the disaster and tragedy brought about by Cyclone Idai, the people of Zimbabwe had been displaying "their best qualities".
"Yes, we may have been shaken by grief, the loss of life and property was dear, but our belief in the exhorted virtues of love, unity, and good neighbourliness continue to shine and be strengthened. It is the best of these qualities, in the spirit of Ubuntu, that has gathered us here. The Zororo-Phumulani annual laptop giveaway function is an exhibition of the best that humanity has to offer," said Mukonoweshuro.
Media entities, including The Star newspaper and the South African Broadcasting Corporation, have also partnered with Zororo-Phumulani in the laptop giveaway programme.
"We don't only partner with corporates like Zororo-Phumulani who are helping the less privileged... we also have our own programmes. Annually, we run internships open to all students, where we take students, about eight to 10 of them. At least half of those, we take them up full-time," said veteran journalist Phathisani Moyo, news editor of The Star.
African News Agency (ANA)