From the township to Oxford – domestic worker’s daughter earns Rhodes Scholarship

From the township to Oxford – domestic worker’s daughter earns Rhodes Scholarship

From Dambuza township to Oxford University in the UK – the daughter of a domestic worker has been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study at the prestigious university, the Daily News in Durban reported on Thursday.

Shamila Mpinga, 23, told the newspaper that her achievement was due to the love, kindness and support of her extended family and the Muslim community into which she was born.

Mpinga was raised by an aunt and uncle, as her mother reportedly works away from home.

She told the Islamic Forum that her mother had a huge role to play in her upbringing.

“Notwithstanding the limited resources, she always ensured that I was well taken care of. I have felt the effects of ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ through the kindness and support of the Muslim community to which I belong,” Mpinga told the Daily News that she was taught independence at a young age.

“I voluntarily started working at the age of 12, mostly as a cashier at local shops, and have not stopped since,” said Mpinga, who completed high school with five distinctions in 2012.

Mpinga earned a scholarship to study law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and after her first year of study, she was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship for being one of the top 25 first-year students, she told the Islamic Forum. She earned her law degree summa cum laude four years later.

The Daily News reported that Mpinga then studied for a Masters in Mineral Law at the University of Cape Town, where she was awarded the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship in 2017.

“After a very rigorous process, I am now a Rhodes scholar-elect. As a Rhodes scholar, I intend on reading for an MSc in Law and Finance and an MBA at the University of Oxford [in the UK],” Mpinga told the Islamic Forum.

Mpinga told the Daily News that, even though her family was never wealthy, she didn’t struggle because of the support of those around her.

“Ten years ago, if someone had predicted that I would have a law degree and preparing to study at Oxford, I would have laughed at them. But, I find myself here,” she told the Islamic Forum.