By Agreement Mabunda
GA-SEKORORO – Dr Machodi Jeremia Mathaba (34) was born and bred at Ga-Sekororo, in Maruleng Municipality. He grew up, like any other child, surrounded by the perception that it is either he becomes a policeman, a teacher, or a nurse as those seemed like the only possible career back then.
Dr. Mathaba studied Chemical Engineering, after completing he furthered his studies where he was qualified with a Btech degree, although he never imagined himself studying beyond a four-year degree course but in 2020 he graduated with his doctoral degree from Witwatersrand University.
He started his Primary School at Maatsengwane. After grade 7, he moved to Mantsobele High School until grade 9 then moved to Seagotle Secondary School where he completed his matric in 2004.
He enrolled for Honours Degree in Environmental Science at the University of Pretoria. He was then given a three-year scholarship, from 2012 to 2014 to do double degree Masters in Thailand and Netherlands.
“I spent some time in Thailand and Netherlands. I got MSC in Environmental Science from UNESCO-IHE in Netherland and Meng in Environmental Engineering and Management from Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand,” said Mathaba.
He further indicated that after the death of his father, his life changed, they were faced with financial difficulties.
Dr Mathaba said he had no financial support from NSFAS, he only survived on the R3000 that his pensioner mother received. The money was meant to cover his registration, tuition fees, accommodation, and food. “Fortunately, my cousin assisted me with accommodation because he stayed next to the campus,” he added.
He said that his financial difficulties fueled him to work harder and excel academically.
“Come to the end of the year, I could not get the results because I had outstanding fees. January the following year I could not register because my mother did not have money for registration, but I insisted on going back to the University of Johannesburg during registration.
I visited the finance offices consecutively for three days trying to explain the situation at home, hoping they will understand. On the last day, I came across a poster saying, “If you got no registration fee, please visit SRC Office”, on my arrival, and after explaining my story the SRC President gave me a piece of paper with a stamp written “Unblock and let the student register.
I took it to the finance offices. By the grace of God, I was registered and my last year’s outstanding fees were carried over to the following year which was all covered by NSFAS,’’ explained Dr Mathaba.
Through the inspiration of his mother and his cousin, who believed in him when he doubted himself. He made it through until his PhD degree.
“My mother was not able to go that far with school due to historical circumstances in our country, but education became something close to her heart that she would chase you to school with a stick if you refused to go to school,” he stated.
His mother remained his role model as she played a role of both a father and a mother after his father passed away.
“Ga bare Mma ngwana o tshwara thipa ka bogaleng, that is my mother. Seeing her raising us under very difficult conditions taught me persistence and hard work.
The role she played in my life and the kind of love she has shown me, I could not ask for any other mother given a chance. I want to make her proud forever and ever and pray to God to keep her for us” Dr Mathaba said.
He grew up in a religious family that taught him a sense of being responsible and provided meaning to his life at an early age. Growing up, he used to attend Sunday schools and church services.
“The church taught me to be considerate of others, to always interrogate people’s position and understand their message beyond what they are saying.
I believe the church is a culture and be part of ZCC became my way of living everywhere I go. Even when I was away from home with no church branches around, I never engaged in activities which the church prohibits.
I would say the church kept me busy from a lot of activities which young people would normally engage in,” said Dr Mathaba.
PhD CELEBRATION: Dr Mathaba celebrating his achievements with friends
Dr Mathaba is currently working for an academic institution where his part of duty is to undertake community engagement activities. He is the founder of an NGO called ThutoLesedi Foundation that targets townships and rural communities. The foundation seeks to provide career guidance and provide high school learners with the necessary knowledge and skills to better their career choices.
Going forward, Mathaba’s said he plans to continue with research to earn the professor title in the future. Currently, he is also working towards getting up a company from the ground with his friend. “Our future goals are to set up successful companies and provide employment to young people and equip them with skills,” he concluded