Dr. Mangisa: From shepherd boy to earning a PhD

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“Showing commitment and dedication to my dreams set me apart from the rest…”

Sometimes a clear path of destiny is set before us and all we can do is surrender to our environment. Dr. Andile Chuma Mangisa was no different as his destiny set before him was that of a village shepherd boy in Manzana the district of Engcbo in the Eastern Cape.  

 “My grandparents have always emphasized the importance of education” remarks Dr. Mangisa, who is known as Andile to his grandparents from his maternal side who had made sure that he attended school.  

He is the third born of four children. He now has three children of his own and has been married to his lovely wife Lihle Mangisa for 20 years.

At the time of his early years as a village boy he didn’t see anything wrong with his life in fact his life seemed easy to him. “I was a shepherd looking after my grandparents’ livestock as it was a source of income for my family” he says.

Mangisa was a shepherd from grade1 up until his matric. Every day for 12 years he would diligently shepard after school. As a village boy his path of being a shepherd was a norm in the Xhosa community.

“As routine I would wake up very early in the morning depending on my boyhood stage, I would milk goats, sheep and cows thereafter take a bath in a vaskom (small dish) and went on to take a long walk to school”. One may ask if it was not dark at 4am, the time that he would wake up; however the moon served as a source of light because the luxury of electricity was not available. “By the way, throughout my schooling years my source of lighting while studying was a candle” adds Mangisa.

His dream ever since childhood was to become a medical doctor and he didn’t know that there was any other doctor besides a medical doctor. “In 1988 while looking after my grandparents’ cattle, my sister delivered a message to me that I had passed my matric with an exemption”, he remembers delightfully. Surprisingly young Andile had not applied at an institution to further his studies. The reason was ever since his primary until high school days he never had to apply for admission. “I thought being admitted at the University of Transkei in particular would be automatic”, he recalls.

Dr. Andile Chuma Mangisa

The following year in 1989 his aunt from Pietermaritzburgbecame concerned and asked for him to visit her. “This was my first time to ever leave the village I grew up in. I looked for a school upon my arrival in Pietermaritzburg but failed to get placement because it was already late and deadline for application had closed”.

Initially he had to settle for a bridging course at Howard College. “That was my first time I saw a lecture hall and a white man with a big belly and long beard” remembers Mangisa. After his admission he was recommended to go to the University of Transkei and without asking the reason for his transfer he just nodded and said “yes sir”. He was afraid to ask the white man for an explanation. He vividly remembers his aunt telling him that rather than staying the whole year without studying, it would be better to enroll at Indumiso of Education which was closer than the University of Transkei. Dr. Mangisa completed secondary school teaching in 1993.

The doctor joined his sister as a teacher in Pietermaritzburg high school. “We both planned and agreed that we will further our studies in MBChB and open our own practice”. They both agreed she would start first and he would follow. Unfortunately he never pursued the plan because just like any young man starting out in his career he was enjoying the perks of his little earnings. Even though the dream of being a medical doctor never took place his dream was slightly altered because he went on to become a successful Dr. in academia. “I kept studying until I was eligible to enroll for a degree of Doctor of Technology and Organizational leadership at TUT. Eventually in 2018 he earned his place as a Dr.

“Showing commitment and dedication to my dreams set me apart from the rest. It was not easy to achieve my dreams because I had to sacrifice my family and other joys and pleasures of life. Eventually my dream became a reality and I’m proud to be called Dr. Chuma Andile Mangisa” he concludes.  

By Sandra Lesenyeho