Let me start with “About Me” before “About Us”. Simon Sinek says, “It's easy to be honest. Just tell the truth.” Tony Robbins says, “Believe in a person who is already doing it, or has done it.”

Breakthrough to Being a Human Being.

I have read and understood that often times my father attempted to sow love. As he scattered the seed in the field, millions of seed could not reach out for the fertile soil. However, at the right time and place, only one seed out of millions scattered in the field was able to reach out for the fertile soil. How fortunate this seed was! My mother was eager, willing and happy to indulge with my father in the field. She nurtured and nourished the fortunate seed as it began to grow. After nine months of tender loving care, the grown seed ripened and dawned.

I am the love of my father and mother; and fruit of their desire. The fact that, amongst millions of seed scattered in the field, I was the only one to breakthrough and be delivered safely, means that I was extremely fortunate to be borne and to be alive.

My being aware of myself as a human being commenced when I was three years of age. We were living at a farm in the then Orange Free State (Free State) of the then Union of South Africa (Republic of South Africa). Mohloki, our next door Neighbour boy and I were born both in the same month of the same year; so my mother told me later in life. I remember so vividly one morning when Mohloki and I were told by our mothers that it was then time for us to stop suckling. At that time, Mohloki was wearing a red coloured blanket and I was wearing a light blue coloured blanked. Mohloki started to cry when his mother told him to stop from suckling and right there and then, he demanded his mother to breast feed him. His mother refused. She went for a nearby bitter aloe and smeared her teats. Mohloki cried vehemently as he left the teats and banged himself to the ground continuously.

I stood there watching Mohloki. I did not cry but I turned to my mother and told her that I would no longer want to suckle. I discovered my age then, when my mother told me later in my life journey that Mohloki and I were three years of age when we were both stopped from suckling.

Breakthrough to Primary School

My grandfather had a lot of cattle, sheep, and two horses which he had acquired long before 26 May 1948. Subsequently when things changed and political troubles began, circumstances forced him to leave his pastures and sought refuge across Caledon River (Mohokare) into then Basutoland (Lesotho). His brother-in-law, who was a Mosotho, had to plead with his local Chief to accommodate my grandfather and his livestock. My grandfather had two wives. He went across to Basutoland with his first wife and left behind his second wife whom he would visit from time to time. A few years later, my parents decided that I should go to Basutoland for the purpose of attending school there.  

During my primary school years, my cousin, the late Senki, his soul rest in peace, and I had to rotate our attendance to school. One day I would be at school and the next day I would be a heard boy and Senki would be attending school. The following day Senki would be a heard boy and I would be attending school. Only during the examination times would Senki and I go to school simultaneously and our grandfather would go out to look after his heard of cattle, flock of sheep, including a few of his horses. He was a wealthy grandfather but I did not know why he could not hire a heard boy. My father was, most of the times, away in Cape Town where he worked. He would come back home during certain intervals.

Every time when I did not go to school, I would ensure that I went to my teacher’s place in the afternoon and asked for a short lesson of what was taught at school during the day. What I did not know was whether or not I was a burden to my teachers by so asking, but they seemed to be happy to assist me. The next morning when the lesson continued at school, my participation in class would be amazing. While self-praise is no recommendation, but I must hasten to say that every time when the examination results were announced, my name would be the first one to be called upon to the podium. At times the announcer of the results would say, “Number 1 student is already known by his classmates, and he also knows himself…, may he please come forward to the podium”. I would then jump enthusiastically to the podium.

What other students did not know was that, once in a while, in my moment of oneness, especially when walking alone in an open and quiet place, I would ask for wisdom to be cast upon me to do well in class. At times during this moment, for split seconds, I would find myself dreaming whilst still awake, and being amazed at myself, that I am actually being a ‘living’ being! 

Breakthrough to High School

At high school I attended classes regularly. The standard was extremely high but I was able to assert myself very early and soon became the student to be reckoned with. It was during my first year at high school when my grandfather passed away. At that time, his livestock had diminished as most of it had been stolen. When he passed away, his brother-in law took care of what was left. Eventually, my father had to stop working and come to Basutoland to wind down my grandfather’s estate and to wait for me to complete my school education.

In the meantime, my father bought a tractor including the implements. He spent all his savings on these investments. While the tractor did well in the beginning, it did not generate enough income for him to be able to pay for my school fees, clothes, books, food or rent. It was in the middle of my second year at high school when my father called me to his confidence, and with tears rolling down his face, told me that he could no longer afford to let me finish my high school education. I felt a cold chill run through my spine, but quickly gathered enough courage and said, “Father, please don’t cry for me. I can see that rain is scanty for the people to hire our tractor to plough their fields; and you are only beginning to find customers.”

Inwardly, I was haunted by the thought that, if I miss one year, the students at my class would be ahead of me the following year, despite the fact that I was the brightest boy in our class. I refused to allow the situation to overtake me. I resolved that when the school closed for winter holidays, I would go to Germiston to visit my aunt for the duration of the holidays, look for work at the factories, and come back when the school reopened. I did just that. I then agreed with my aunt that I would continue to visit her every holidays until I finished my high school education. I subsequently did that.

I remember one day during my fifth and final year at high school when we were given, as usual, a mathematics homework assignment. Our teacher, a Peace Corp from the State of Oregon in the United States of America, would always refer to his “Student Mathematical Project (SMP) Book” which had questions and answers but no methods of getting to the answer, when marking his students’ home work. Students were using the same book but with only questions and no answers. After handing back to students their homework books, our teacher would then work out every single question on the board for students to check their answers.

There was this one question which our teacher could not work out its answer. He tried several times to solve for it but still could not get it right. Eventually he remembered that there was one student in the class who managed to get 100% in his homework assignment. He asked for that student to please come forward to the board and explain how he got it right. I stood up and went to the board and explained each and every single step which lead up to the correct answer. The whole class applauded and I felt good. For me to get this question right, I had worked throughout the night and only managed to break through to the answer at about 02:00 A.M. It reminded me of my primary school days when I used to do well in Arithmetic, shortly before the advent of Mathematics.

What other students did not know was that, once in a while, in my moment of oneness, especially when walking alone in an open and quiet place, I would ask for wisdom to be cast upon me to do well in class. At times during this moment, for split seconds, I would find myself dreaming whilst still awake, and being amazed at myself, that I am actually being a ‘living’ being!

Remember I said that my grandfather was wealthy, as measured in terms of numbers of his cattle, sheep,and two horses. One of the greatest lessons I learnt from him, and which I saw him doing, and which I started practicing, and which I am living it today is, “You can only lift up a weak or vulnerable cow which is also helping itself to stand up.” Please don’t ask me what my grandfather said or did to a weak or vulnerable cow which was only waiting to be lifted up and not helping itself to stand up!

Breakthrough to the World of Work

It started at Ficksburg, my hometown. I did not have money or food but I had resolved to board a mainline train from Ficksburg Station to Bethlehem, and another mainline train from Bethlehem to Johannesburg where I would alight at Germiston Station, shortly before Johannesburg Station. In Germiston, I would be staying with my aunt at Katlehong (formerly Natalspruit). When the train arrived at Ficksburg Station from Bloemfontein, I was the first one to jump in even though I did not have a boarding ticket.

This story is for another day, but each time I think about the journey, I shed a tear or two, even though I was raised believing that men, like sheep when they feel the pain, do not cry. However, to this day, I pay homage to the three elderly women or mothers whom I found in the train and sat next to them. I am forever indebted to their bravery; not in financial terms or giving me food which they didn’t have, but their words and, most importantly, their actions to protect me all the way from Ficksburg Station until Germiston Station while they were on their way to Johannesburg Station. They understood my situation, my plan which I devised with them, the huge sacrifice on their part, and the risk I was taking, including the possible consequences to me if my plan failed.  

Finding the kind of work I was looking for at the factories in Germiston was not easy until someone advised me to go to the mines. I went there reluctantly but I am glad I did since I found work which had some meaning. Pursuing my career through tertiary education was my primary goal. My goal was made easier to reach when my employer identified me amongst thousands of other employees as a person who had great potential, and who needed some conditional assistance to study further. I graduated first at the Institute for People Management (IPM) after six years of part-time study, followed by my graduation at the University of Cape Town (UCT) Graduate School of Business (GSB) after a full-time study for a year. My motto for breaking through the barriers is, “You don’t have to be a ‘doctor’ or ‘professor’ to be able to kick the ball past a goal-keeper or goal posts. Be creative.”

My tenacity, creativity and initiative enabled me to gain great insight into the company’s corporate vision, culture and its operations, which resulted in my exceptional performance at every work I was meant to do. These values and love of my work enabled me to be promoted incrementally from labourer, to supervisory, to management, and to senior management levels. This upward movement created what appeared to be some insecurity and tensions amongst certain groups of people. However, my ability to navigate through unpleasant situations helped me to create opportunities and eventually break through to the world of business.

If, amongst your values, self-awareness, self-motivation, self-confidence, creativity, initiative, tenacity, resilience, lasting relationship, and self-rediscovery resonate with you, please book a One-On-One Discovery Call with me by following the link below:

https://www.phungwayo.co.za/cp/38407/coaching-and-mentoring

Please visit our Home Page for “About Us”.