2013 Oct. 22: I thought university was for the rich

Palesa profiled by Kopano

Palesa Mkhwebane is a beauty with a brain. The aspiring entrepreneur tells me of her future plans as we chit chat.  She ponders and says “I didn’t know I was going to go to university, as I thought going to university was for the rich”.  It’s now a ridiculous thought as she laughs and adds that she honestly thought that to be true until she got access to information around that.

After she matriculated, she took a gap year as she figured out her options.  The gap year came as a blessing to her as she got the opportunity to work with school children at the request of her former teacher.
“I got good results in matric and my teacher asked me to come motivate and tutor the learners because I was good in Maths.  That is where I discovered my calling to be an educator.”


Palesa Mkhwebane, photo taken outside KwaThema Community Hall, Springs, Johannesburg, 2011.
Featuring in Faces & Phases by Zanele Muholi

Palesa went on to win a bursary because of her excellent results, which so far, has covered her tuition and her mom has not had to worry about her school needs.
“When I start working I want to extend my mother’s house” she said. she also mentions that she’s lived all her life in an informal settlement and it’s only been two years since they started living in an Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) house, she also explains that she feels that her mother deserves the best, “I feel like I owe it to myself to do better for my mom” she added.

Palesa has already gained her teaching experience through her practicums.  She has taught high schools and she says “I love teaching! I’m so confident when I’m teaching”. She however says teaching is demanding and it requires a person with passion and patience.  She is an educator and she sees herself teaching for about 8 years.  After that, she plans on furthering her studies so that she can secure a position as a Principal or be working in some capacity at the department of education.  After that she plans on working on her entrepreneurial dream – she would like to run a successful student residence.

With all good things comes the bad.  Her experiences at her first practicum were at Phoenix College.  Her assigned mentor at the school had a problem with her sexuality. “She firstly invited me to church and when I told her I couldn’t make it because I’m Roman Catholic, told me she couldn’t be my mentor and by then I could sense a huge discomfort every time she spoke to me.” The mentor even discussed her with the students and when Palesa found out, she took the matter to the Deputy Principal, who advised that she take the matter up with law enforcement.

She declined but says what happened to her was a learning opportunity for her, because she was able to see a gap as pertains to educating students about homosexuality, which she had never thought of previously.  One of her courses is Life Orientation which help her with addressing subjects around gender roles, lifestyle choices and sexuality.

The 23 year old just got engaged to her girlfriend Palesa Mlangeni who she’s been in a relationship with since 2011. “I want to spend the rest of my life with her” she professes. She doesn’t think she’s too young to get married because she seems to understand one tenet – that succumbing to temptation is a futile exercise.  “The truth always has a way of coming out.”
She concedes that yes she knows there will always be women far more beautiful than her girlfriend but “they can never give me what she gives me.”
She says that when you respect someone and you love that person you will never want to see that particular individual hurt.


Definitions according to the dictionary…

* practicum

A practicum is a graduate level course, often in a specialized field of study, that is designed to give students supervised practical application of a previously or concurrently studied theory. Practicums (student teaching) are common for education and social work majors. In some cases, the practicum may be a part-time student teaching placement that occurs the semester before a student’s full-time student teaching placement.

* tenet


the fundamental tenet of the ideology: principle, belief, doctrine, precept, creed, credo, article of faith, axiom, dogma, canon; theory, thesis, premise, conviction, idea, view, opinion, position; (tenets) ideology, code of belief, teaching(s).


Previous profiles by Kopano

2013 Sept. 22: Stop this is hurting me…



2013 Aug. 13: Love Transcends and Love Prevails


2013 July 15: The virus has become a silent relative


2013 April 21: Living a legacy is always better than leaving a legacy


2013 April 16: Not just a handsome butch lesbian





This entry was posted in Another Approach Is Possible, Archived memories, Archiving Queer Her/Histories in SA, As we are, Beauty, Before You, Black & White, Black Queer & Gifted, Blackness, Brains, Crea(c)tive senses, Creating awareness, Education, Empowerment, Experience, Exposure, Expression, Friendships, Homosexuality, Housing, Knowledge, Life, Love, Our lives in the picture, Photography, Portrait, Power of the Voice, RDP, Relationships, Visual history is a Right not a luxury, Visual Power, We Are You, We Care, We Still Can with/out Resources, Women's power, Writing is a Right, Youth voices and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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