Hi ASA fam

Today’s post is a follow-up from my previous post about security guards based on some of the comments I often hear (here). I decided to share the stories of five security guards who were/are students and decided to overcome the odds under challenging circumstances.


Currently working as a security guard for a church. He comes from one of the best public schools in Kinshasa and was top of his class in Maths. Alpha approached me as he wanted to study but was unable to access online lessons without a laptop (which he received from a generous soul!). Through a combination of various support, he enrolled with Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), and later decided that studying via correspondence through the University of South Africa (UNISA) was a better option.ย  Especially because it allows him to keep his day job as a security guard. He is now in his 2nd year of a BSc in Maths (after passing his first year with flying colours).


I met him as he used to work for a car dealership close to our flat. He came from the DRC, had worked as a volunteer for one of the UN agencies and saved up the money for his tertiary studies. Based on our conversations, he came from a middle-upper income family back home, and was staying with his uncle to save up on rent. His uncle encouraged him to work as a security guard as he would need additional income and could save up. He had decided to enrol for a degree in Economicsย with a private universityย Varistyย College (after a year). I advised him to rather apply for CPUT and/or a university as their fees were a fraction of what private universities charged. We lost touch when I stopped seeing by…I imagine that he started school and changed jobs and/or decided to focus on studying.


I met him through our department on campus. He was a masters student and I was still undergraduate studies. We were not close, so I heard about his story through a common friend. He had studied metallurgy back home and came as a refugee (with his wife) to get his masters. Without much funds to sustain themselves, he decided to work as a security guard until he finally managed to secure his masters’ admission into University of Cape Town (UCT) without a scholarship. He used to come to campus during the day and work as a guard at night for a few months until his supervisor helped him secure a scholarship. I lost touch with him, when he secured a job with one of the biggest mining companies in South Africa (to support their DRC operations).

The Dr

He used to work at a grocery store (Spar) close to my place. He was probably in his late 40s and/or early 50s, I later discovered that he was my friend’s uncle. He was a registered Phd student in Humanities at UCT. He completed his Phd two years later, and I lost touch with him when I stopped seeing him. I assume that he changed jobs shortly thereafter.


He used to work for our church before. He was quiet and I did not know him personally other than the odd greetings and encounter at one/two Congolese gatherings. He was studying engineering via UNISA and returned back home once he secured a good job with one of the big mining companies in the DRCongo.


I hope you enjoyed reading this post. I wrote this mainly to celebrate these brave humans, who decided to study under very challenging circumstances. But most importantly to inspire those who might look at their current financial situation as a dead end. Be inspired, be brave & courageous. If they overcame the odds, you too can.


P.S: Please note that names have been changed to respect their privacy




  1. Doreen Nabaho Reply

    Really enjoyed reading this!
    Incidentally, I listened to Stephen Dubner’s Freakonomics podcast (May 10 2017 episode) recently where they discussed how powerful it can be to share positive success stories of immigrants and other minorities in the battle to combat prejudice and other ‘-isms. There’s strong (data driven) evidence in support of highlighting the achievements of minorities (versus highlighting the extent of the prejudice) as a powerful tool to combat prejudice.

    • Thank you Dee for the comment, glad you enjoyed reading this article. Indeed, it is up to us to share our own stories-this is exactely why ASA was created. I will defo check out the Freakonomics podcast ๐Ÿ™‚

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