By GRACE NAUME NDLOVU
“Ndil’ iqabane.” That’s how Hlumela Mpiti identifies herself. She means that she is a force. Known as Mela, Mpiti’s self-proclaimed identity is indisputable. This 22-year-old is the mother of a two-year-old son, a Master’s student in the Drama Department, and a student leader.
In 2021 she was the SRC Vice-President, where her mission, vision, and goal were for the council to be engaged and visible to the students. Mpiti and her council worked towards transparency between the student body and the university to execute their duties diligently. To this end, they were fully involved in the National University Shut Down on 15 March 2021.
Mpiti is one of the few students who pursued their studies while heavily pregnant and graduated in time at Rhodes University. She said falling pregnant during her final year as an undergraduate was not part of her plans, but she kept reminding herself: “It is crucial to remember who you are, Mela. Remember your values and where you want to see yourself in the future. Pregnancy will not hinder me from reaching out for my dreams.”
Being a university student comes up with a lot of freedom but also a lot of responsibilities. Mpiti says it is essential to understand that you should not conform to peer pressure but instead do what makes you happy. She says many people would have advised her to abort her baby. But with the right group of friends and family, she had the courage to keep the child and to be supported throughout her journey.
As a passionate creative who leads with vigour and is committed to student governance, Mpiti is skilled in public speaking, creative writing, and theatre work. She became a published writer the same year she was pregnant when a book review she authored appeared in a Unisa Press journal.
Her wish for students who feel the weight of their workload is that they keep on pushing and not stop. If they believe in themselves and do the necessary work, the force could be theirs.