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Mama uyandibona (mama do you see me), Enkosi mama (thank you mama)” - This phrase has become synonymous with graduation celebrations across the country, with graduates often shouting these words across the stage to acknowledge the role that their maternal figures have played in their upbringing and success.


This has not been the case for the two Mbuyazi sisters who graduated at Nelson Mandela University’s George Campus, during its three autumn graduation ceremonies, held at Eden Place recently. 

The sisters, Snentokozo (25) and Samukelisiwe Mbuyazi (21), pay homage to their father, Bheki Mbuyazi (55), who raised them alone from a young age with resilience, determination and sacrifice. Born and raised in Mtubatuba, KwaZulu-Natal, these young ladies grew up with the unwavering desire to succeed and overcome any obstacles.

Born into a working-class family, their parents always stressed the importance of hard work and focus, regardless of the obstacles that may arise during the journey. Bab’ uBheki worked as a soldier in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) at the time of their birth. Their mother, Bongiwe Mbuyazi was working for the local Municipality. Both their parents instilled values around discipline and consistency within their home to ensure that the sisters were always prepared for difficult situations.

In 2009, the inevitable happened and would be the greatest obstacle, for the family of four now became a family of three. Mam’ uBongiwe succumbed to Stage IV cervical cancer.  Sne and Samke, as they are affectionately known, were only thirteen (13) and nine (9) years respectively. And this would be the start of their journey of being raised by a single father.  

The loss of their mother, especially at such a tender age for young girls, had a huge impact on their adult lives. Unaware of the exact details behind their mother’s passing and questioning whether they could have been the cause, Bab’ uBheki, immediately stepped in and played the role of both parents to young daughters.

Through financial stress, emotional turmoil, and the birth of two grandkids, Bab’ uBheki never wavered in his support for his daughters, making whatever sacrifice necessary to ensure their overall success in life.  The sisters recalled a time when their father sold all his businesses and went to live with Samukelisiwe during her matric year and moments when everything seemed to be crumbling. Through it all, however, he remained their pillar of strength.

“Times were tough, we had moments of not knowing what tomorrow may bring and if uBaba could still do this. But he was there with us every single step of the way. He held us up and ensured we never lacked. That is why we honour him this way – by graduating and making him proud,” they said.

“Ngiyabonga kakhulu banta bam, today I can honestly say you have reached the target I set for u in life”, Bab’ uBheki said in a text message to his daughters, expressing how proud he was of them.

The sisters now hold undergraduate qualifications – Samukelisiwe a Diploma in Tourism, and Snentokozo an Advanced Diploma in Marketing.

Snentokozo had graduated virtually last year (2021) for her Advanced Diploma but opted to join her younger sister in graduating this year.

“Work in silence and let success make the noise,” are words that they live by daily.

The sisters also shared about how society, at times, never tells the story of the single father and for them, this is one narrative that has shaped their young lives – to be raised by a single father from a young age.

They are currently employed in George, with dreams of eventually expanding their horizons internationally.  As a community, we wish them nothing but continued success in their careers and personal lives. The pursuit of excellence is the most challenging walk, and we are grateful to have been part of their journey.

Bab’ uMbuyazi still stays in Mtubatuba, where he runs a small, and very successful, transport business.


Contact information
Ms Milisa Piko
Communications Manager: George Campus
Tel: 044 801 5098