“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve. Napoleon Hill”
2005, I finish my A’Level studies at Marondera High School in Marondera, Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is at the height of its socio-economic and political decay. I want to advance my education but the situation in +263 won’t allow. My father, knowing very well that his son wants to advance his education by any means necessary, suggests that I take a gap year in 2006 and help him run his businesses in rural Macheke, a small village town on the border of Mashonaland East and Manicaland provinces, on your way to Mutare, Zimbabwe’s fourth largest city. I take up the offer and I run the family business to the best I could. Towards the end of 2006 I told my dad that I really wanted to go to university to study and he understood but the sad story was that it was quite difficult for my family to finance my studies. Anyone who really understands the situation in Zimbabwe from 2006 will know what I’m talking about.
On the 19th of March 2007, I embarked on what I still consider as one of the most adventurous journeys of my life. I hopped on to a Greyhound bus, armed with US$52, which, at the time, was equivalent to R 1000, Destination: Durban, South Africa. To this very day I still remember the words my parents said to me on that day, warning me about the dangers of living in Azania! I arrived in Durban and managed to secure a job at a restaurant called Oscars Café in Essenwood Road. That job marked a watershed moment in my life. I was a waiter but because I had an unfulfilled dream and I was not prepared to let the situation in Zimbabwe dictate my fate, I then enrolled at the University of KwaZulu Natal Howard College Campus for a bachelor’s degree. I used the money I made to finance my studies. Four years of my life was spent at that restaurant then I moved to Market Restaurant when Oscars was sold.
Working while studying was one of the most challenging endeavors I have ever embarked on. It was very tough. Varsity classes started at 8am and at 4:30pm I had to be at work. I worked till 11pm each night, 16 hour double shifts on the weekend. After work I would then start working on assignments and/or study, but I never lost hope. I wanted that degree so bad. Through restaurant work and the strength I got from the heavens, I managed to attain 2 degrees. The hours were long, the work was tough but working in the restaurant did not just help me pay for my education, it helped me develop excellent communicative, business and interpersonal skills, which are vital in the business world this day. After graduation I managed to secure good jobs and I haven’t stopped studying. I plan to pursue a Masters in International Relations as well as an LLM
A few months ago I was at a restaurant at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, waiting for my flight, I was travelling to one of the Southern African countries. The waitress who served me was a Zimbabwean girl. I had a chat with her and she told me she wanted to study and I shared my story with her, I was just having a conversation. Several months later, when I had long forgotten about my conversation with her, I was back to the airport and it so happened that I found myself at the same restaurant where she worked. Somebody else was serving me but when that girl I had spoken to spotted me she came straight to me…what she did almost got me into tears, she produced her student card!! My story had inspired her to take that leap of faith and had registered at the University of Johannesburg’s Bunting road campus in Auckland Park. I still cannot comprehend what I felt on that day.
The main reason why I decided to share my story with the rest of the world is that I want people to know that the road to greatness is like that legendary narrow path, its full of obstacles but its up to you to give up or navigate your way around it. I’m not saying I’m a great man now, but I’m far much better than what I was in 2006. This is my message to you all, in whatever you do, be the yardstick of excellence, make sure you lead so that they can follow. Look beyond the obvious, in search of the unseen, as you establish yourself as number one, as the world’s greatest….you can do it. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise, you can do it.
Tapiwa Munjoma is a Political Scientist, FreeLance Journalist and a Human Rights Activist who specializes on African Politics.