FROM fruit vendor to a doctor in development studies, that is the remarkable story of a Zwide man who is graduating next week.
Ntsikelelo Breakfast, 30, dropped out of high school after getting involved with the wrong crowd and got a job selling fruit and vegetables in town, earning anything from R50 to R120 a fortnight, if he got paid at all.
Breakfast was out of school for three years before he made the decision to complete his studies in 2000 when he became a Christian.
The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) political science lecturer matriculated in 2002 from Loyiso High School and never looked back.
“It was not easy because I was out of touch for a while, but I managed to bounce back to the ring of life by completing my matric. That was a great moment for me. The rest is history,” he said.
The youngest of two children, Breakfast was born in Kwazakhele and the family later moved to Zwide. He was raised by his mother after his parents’ divorce in 1991.
After matric, he studied towards a BA, and later did his honours in political science.
“At master’s level, I came across Dr Gavin Bradshaw who showed an interest in me, mentoring me with patience. He taught me a great deal about research. My master’s dissertation was passed well … and that inspired me to do a PhD subsequently.”
His thesis was on “Neo-liberalism within the context of local government in the Eastern Cape”.
Breakfast believes it is never too late for one to go back to school and would like to see more young people completing their PhDs.
“People who want to go back to school should do so, so our country can have a knowledge- based economy driven by research.”
He said he studied political science as it enabled him to understand the complexities of the world.
Breakfast, who is graduating on Wednesday and did his postgraduate studies with the help of an NMMU bursary, lives with his mother, niece and nephew in Zwide.
“I am planning to move out soon though, because one is a bit old now and needs to be independent.
“Notwithstanding that, I am grateful to my mother for raising me and looking after me financially and for offering me emotional support sometimes.”
The ambitious man said academia, for him, was a calling.
“After 20 years I would like to be a vice-chancellor at any good university in South Africa,” Breakfast said.