Local newsNews

Zethu Hlatshwayo picks himself up after hitting rock bottom

Zethu is part of a global network, having friends as far as Sweden and Norway, who are on the same mission in bringing awareness to environmental issues.

Mr Zethu Sylvester Goodenough Hlatshwayo is a perfect example of not giving up when when you hit rock bottom.

This young man has had it all, but it abruptly came to an end.

However, it has not deterred him from his lifelong mission of building a school for the less fortunate.

Born and bred in Wesselton, Umsebe Primary School laid the foundation of what he has achieved to date.

As a product of Lindile Secondary School, he developed into the individual he became.

With both his parents dying before he could reach the age of seven, it was up to his aunt to raise him.

Also Read:  Reclaiming Ermelo threatened as they clean up illegal dump site in Wesselton

It was at the secondary school where he realised he was the maker of his own destiny when he failed Grade 9.

“It was a wake up call because I had no parental support and the future looked bleak,” he said.

With a sense of urgency, Zethu and his friends formed a study group to help one another with all things academic.

“The way I focused in my later years at school, paid off in the end.”

Zethu, as he likes to be called, garnered two distinctions in the subjects of Mathematics and Physical Science, a feat only a handful achieved at the time.

This earned him an opportunity to study further at the Enkangala FET College where he obtained a N6 certificate in Electrical Engineering.

However, when he came back home, he saw most of his old school mates had not had the opportunity to study further.

Zethu and two of his friends, Mzwakhe Msibi and the late Sicelo Khumalo, decided to begin a school catered towards helping learners in Mathematics and Physical Sciences by offering them afternoon classes.

The Umtapho Wolwazi School, meaning gather knowledge, was born.

After registering as an non-profit organisation in 2007, the school operated at the Thuthukani Community Hall in Wesselton, as it still does today.

Through the school, Zethu along with his friends, gained recognition and were recruited to work for Eskom, the power utility giant.

That was the beginning of his free fall to rock bottom.

The riches that came with such a lucrative job attracted attention and he gained unsavoury friends.

“I bought the cars, drank a whole lot and abused various forms of recreational drugs.”

Zethu squandered the money and lost the job and nobody was there when it was all gone.

He decided to go back to his roots to the school he founded with his real friends.

It began with a few learners, but Zethu has managed to produce students studying at big institutions of further education.

“You can have nothing to your name, but if you take pride in your education and achieve high marks, doors will open.”

The school’s name has changed through the years and it is now known as the Reyashuma Academy of Learning, Reyashuma meaning “working” in the Venda language.

It has more than 50 learners on their roster.

The school is not the only project close to Zethu’s heart, he is an environmental activist.

Spokesman of the Khuthala Environmental Care Group, Zethu’s love for the English language, articulation and sharp mind has garnered him audiences in council chambers.

This enquiring mind is not shy to speak his mind, shining the effects of global warming at every campaign they embark on as a group.

He has featured in documentaries about the environment of the Highveld and how coal mining affects township communities.

Zethu is part of a global network, having friends as far as Sweden and Norway, who are on the same mission in bringing awareness to environmental issues.

An activist and a teacher, this is his lasting legacy.

A father of three boys, Zethu has been at the receiving end of many life lessons.

But one thing that he tries to teach people is, education is powerful tool.


For free daily local news in the South, visit our sister newspapers Highvelder,Standerton Advertiser
For more news and interesting articles, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram

Related Articles

Back to top button