When Sinovuyo Faku was a boy, there was nothing he liked better than to dismantle toy cars and put them together again. It is no surprise that today he is in his first year of a four-year BSc mechanical engineering degree at Wits University.
“I was always interested in motor engineering so this degree made sense for me,” he says.
But, he points out, it is thanks to his mother, who brought him up single-handedly, that he is where he is today.
“I was a naughty boy who had undisciplined friends. We used to play until late and when I got home, my mother would give me a thorough beating,” he recalls.
To this day Sinovuyo has “an extraordinary relationship” with his mother. “She is the nicest, kindest person alive in the universe,” he says. “She is the source of my joy. Although we sometimes argue, no one has shown me the love she shows. She did not receive a proper education, and works as a domestic worker. It was her warm hands that built me to be the man I am today,” he says.
Sinovuyo grew up in Thokoza in the East Rand of Gauteng. Being academically talented, he enjoyed school throughout the years. He participated in nearly every activity and received a number of awards for his achievements.
“In primary school I played chess, rugby, baseball and volleyball. I was elected as the deputy head boy. In Grade 6 I represented my school in the maths Olympiad and came second. In Grade 7, I came first, but then I was eliminated at provincial level,” he says.
In high school he was elected secretary of the Learners Representative council. He was especially bright at maths and physics, and made time to help others who were struggling with those subjects.
“Some learners didn’t have the learning spirit, and they seemed to have given up. I loved school very much and was always hungry to learn new things. I decided to help those children by sacrificing my time to stay and help them after school hours,” he says.
In Grade 11, Sinovuyo was selected to attend the JuniorTukkie camp at the University of Pretoria, and that’s where he learnt about university life. “We received a motivational talk from university students. I decided I needed to study harder so I could get the minimum requirements for university entrance,” he says.
Sinovuyo says it was the help he received from one special teacher in Grade 12, a Mr Dube, that got him into university. “He was like a father to me,” Sinovuyo says.
“He was my maths teacher, but we also interacted personally outside the classroom. He was the kind of teacher who was concerned about my personal wellbeing. He taught me life morals and motivated me through the hard times,” he says.
Sinovuyo was fortunate to be awarded a Moshal Scholarship on January 31 this year, before he even started his degree.
“I feel so happy to be part of the Moshal scholarship program because you are not just a scholar. We are one big family. I feel a sense of belonging, and I’ve often asked for advice and tips from senior Moshal scholars who generously gave me all the help I needed,” he says.
Nonetheless, the first two months at Wits were a huge adjustment and he was shocked when he failed his first physics test. “I studied like nobody’s business and I only got 43%. The workload was five times that of high school and I had to develop a new learning strategy,” he says.
Shy at first, he felt lonely because “I don’t easily socialise”.
“I had to constantly remind myself of the reason why I am here, and not compare myself with anyone because this is my life and my career. Luckily I got good advice from my Moshal big brother,” he says.
Sinovuyo says he is very grateful that he made it into university and into his first choice of career. “I see myself as an achiever and a fighter. I am a very motivated person. Yes, I make mistakes but I don’t look back at my mistakes and let them interfere with my future.
“I am a very spiritual Christian, and I believe in prayer,” he says.
When life becomes tough, Sinovuyo gets down on his knees and prays, after he has consulted his most important person in the physical world - his mother, who he calls “my role model and the queen of my heart”.