Failing at UJ Made Mofokeng a Successful Man

He presents himself as a 25-year-old man who is strong on the inside and outside, with an unbreakable spirit of ‘indoda ayikhali iyaqinisela’ (a man does not cry but stays strong). This confident man – Khaya Mofokeng, whose last time to shed tears was in 2011 after his father denied him the opportunity to go to Johannesburg to fulfil his dreams – comes from Bergville in KwaZulu Natal where he grew up and finished high school.

Mofokeng’s confidence is manifested from the get-go by the nature of his walk: chin up, head up and shoulders straight.

These trends are much harder to ignore while he is cladding smart, casual clothing of a pair of light blue jeans, navy blue collar t-shirt and formal brown shoes with his car keys and smartphone on his hands.

He describes himself as “a young and self-driven individual . . . [who] likes new challenges.”

Challenging Educational Life

“If I bounce on a wall, I’ll have to go back and find ways to break it so that I can get through,” he says. A year later since the disapproval of his father in 2012, he came to Jo’burg to pursue a degree in Audio-visual Communications at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), hoping that it will fulfil his dream of becoming a filmmaker.

But reality remained defiant towards Mofokeng, and somewhat rebellious for his initial goal to be achieved. His exposure to the real world permanently changed his perspective of education, and now, his views of the education system in tertiary level can stir up a great debate.

When narrating about his second-year experiences of being a student, he says: “In the second semester, I failed a module because I got a gig at the SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporations) and worked there as an assistant floor designer of Generations (South Africa’s highest watched soap opera at the time). I got to see how things work out there in real life. I realised that whatever they are teaching us at UJ, I’m not going to need it.”

So, he carried the failed module to 3rd year.

“The moment the lecturer stepped in I felt irritated . . . because I had films that were playing on Mzansi Magic when I was doing my third year.  So already I knew how things work within the television industry. I had a lot of contacts and I was already working for other companies.”

This time he passed the module he carried to 3rd year.

But failed another module again.

And had to carry it to 4th year.

He tells The Open Journal that it was hard for him to stay focused in class and would sometimes not attend lectures and dragged his feet with his assignments.

So, in his fourth year, he dropped out. But it compelled him to find a better version of himself as he felt ‘very useless’.

Eventually, he went back to school when his father convinced him to finish the degree after taking a two-year gap.

Filmmaking vs Marketing

Instead, “I’m more of a marketing person than a television person because of the challenges we are facing,” he says.

Mofokeng now works as a Public Relations Officer for City Waldorf, one of the most popular student accommodations in the heart of Jo’burg. In 2018, he got hired as a Marketing Manager for Sarasota Spur in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

He says he’s largely contributed to the growth of Varsity TV, a production company that generates content intended for university students across the country.

Additionally, Mofokeng has been in charge of City Cares, a community-charity unit under City Waldorf that helps disadvantaged communities.

Most recently, his envisioned monthly student-based newspaper, Waldorfian Times, was launched in February 2017 in partnership with Provokar News.

khaya Mofokeng during the day when his newspaper, Waldorfian Times was officially launched at Maboneng early this month. Photo was taken from Facebook.

He sees himself in the next five years as a marketing guru and having created an organization that will empower the youth and help them grow to become the best versions of themselves. “I’m trying to build an organization that will assist the youth to achieve good things in life.”

His great personality is what makes the work he does easier for him as it easily matches the requirements of his work.

“This is why I have been able to get myself so many portfolios as a Marketing Manager because marketing requires talking, convincing people to like you and as soon as they love you, they fall in love with your idea,” explains the confident Mofokeng as he taps himself on the back.

Even though his fate seems clear, he hasn’t given up on pursuing his dream of being a big filmmaker and has ideas on the type of films he wants to produce. But his biggest fear in life is failing, and not being able to attain a position in the television industry is a scary thought for him.

Despite all the challenges that befall, there are two things that this modest and charismatic young man always says: “Change always starts with you and be the change that you want to see and dream until it becomes a reality.”

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