If only

If only I had a laptop, my own bedroom, better nutrition, family support, a safer community, or money – surely I would have been far by now.

How many times does “if only” keep us grounded and unable to progress in life? For Siyamthanda Mtyeku, “if only” was never an option. Even sharing a one-room shack with four other people, often sleeping hungry, contending with loud music and scuffles from the shebeen across the street – he still managed to get seven distinctions in matric!

Even if…

All too often we are programmed to accept the status quo on many things. There are many stats we tend to accept without question. For example, distinctions of this nature are often ‘expected’ from students at “private schools” that can offer unmatched academic support and offerings to learners. Yet, for Siya, the former pupil at Sinenjongo High School, he refused to succumb to societal expectations.

Even with grief from the death of his brother, challenging living conditions with his late brother’s girlfriend and her children, poverty, relying on a school feeding scheme… Siya received distinctions for physical science, mathematics, English, computer applications technology, isiXhosa, life science, and life orientation.


Unlike the many people around him who became thugs, regulars at the tavern or ended up dead because they gave in to poverty and its frustrations: Siya worked hard. It’s not like Siya didn’t know the odds were stacked against him, but even then, he chose to press on to aspire for greater. He achieved distinctions in all his subjects with an 85% aggregate and graduated as the top matric pupil Sinenjongo High School!

Siya dared to strive for excellence even when he was not sure how his parents would be able to fund his dreams of pursuing medicine at Stellenbosch University. He did the best with what he had. He dared to see himself as someone who was able to rewrite his life’s story.

Siya adopted the motto: “nothing is impossible” to build up his resilience even when it looked impossible for someone from his community. He hung on to the hope that things would not always be this way.

Today, you’re reading about Siya because he has a different spirit. A never say no attitude.

Don’t wait for things to happen. Be like Siya and members of the High School Entrepreneurs Society who continue even when things seem unattainable. Press on. Nothing is impossible.