A WEEK or so ago, I stumbled onto an advert that Sandile Shezi, Mzansi’s youngest multimillionaire, was to grace the shores of Africa’s Eden, Limpopo, with his presence. This was not just a ‘baecation’ visit, but part of his Global Forex Institute mission to spread the word about foreign exchange trading… what is turned to be known to me later as Forex. I quickly, and eagerly, reached for my mobile phone, to RSVP, just in case the seats were not fully booked. After all, this One Day Forex Beginners’ Class was for free. Who wouldn’t want to learn how to become a multimillionaire for free? I mean, really? Within no time, my mobile phone rang. I swiped the flashing green light, and talked to the soft voice that confirmed my reserved seat for the weekend’s Forex seminar, and was told to bring a friend of a friend. I was elated. I dragged one interested friend along to the morning seminar. So, we were the two potential future millionaires.
The multitudes of people at the event scared the hell out of me. If all of us who were in attendance were to become multimillionaires, we’d probably finish every cent in circulation, in all currencies combined. Many a people couldn’t even find a chair to sit on. The session was opened by the ever-cool actor Clement Maosa – Skeem Saam’s Kwaito – who introduced Shezi’s mentor, George van der Riet, who in turn introduced the man of the moment, Shezi himself.
Wearing an elegant black jacket and a white shirt, buttoned up to the cricoid cartilage, the wealthy young man oozed confidence and charisma. He had the full attention of his audience. He rattled through every single part of that “French” forex lecture, explaining every detail of every part. Three hours later, his voice hadn’t gone hoarse. It was a very interesting session, I must say. Difficult as the terminologies and nomenclatures were, the young man’s vested interest in this market allowed him to dissect and break down everything for us. I was convinced I was a millionaire, sitting in the midst of millionaires. There was a point when he got my attention. At least here I heard, and understood him very well. That’s when Mr Shezi spoke about bursaries. Every time I hear the word “bursary”, my attention automatically deviates in the direction of that voice. This is mainly because I do a lot of philanthropy work, helping poor, rural students with finding varsity funding.
The charming, young, multimillionaire, however, had a different view. He believes bursaries are nonsense. He said: “If I hear the word ‘bursary’, I call security to get you out of my office”. He believes that people’s need for bursaries is a result of their ignorance and financial mismanagement. According to him, on average, each household “wastes” about R10 000 every December, celebrating Christmas.
He said: “You are not just born today and go to varsity. By the time you do your matric you’d have wasted over R180 000 on Christmas. So, you should be able to go to varsity.” Let me remind you again how the young man generated money to trade in forex. He said he sold clothes at high school, making about R400 from his classmate. Well, you can imagine the kind of school where learners would have enough money to afford clothes. In many rural schools, Mr Shezi, pupils don’t have R400 to bring to school. Learners eat from government’s feeding school
programmes. Money is luxury… a commodity that is reserved for the elite.
The young man also told how his parents gave him all the money he required for his civil engineering studies for that particular year – this undisclosed amount covered transport, food, clothes, books, accommodation, tuition, etc. If a parent can afford all these at a one go, Mr Shezi, I guess this justifies why your view on bursaries is blurred. Many learners in rural areas pass their matric with flying colours, get bursaries (if super-lucky) but do not have a cent for transport. Well, now that you schooled us so vividly, Mr Shezi, please allow me to school you.
Your view on bursaries is wrong, misinformed, and misguided. You might be right about R10 000 Christmas wastage. From where though Which households? I cannot deny the undeniable fact that people do waste money during festive seasons. However, this blanket generalization is petty and naïve. Lately, many people have taken it upon themselves to buy young girls sanitary pads. Would you really believe that some people cannot afford a pack of sanitary pads once a month, but can afford R10 000 for Christmas or varsity fees? Are you really sure this is what you believe in, or you just forgot to say “pardon me, I erred”? Do you really believe that funding a black child’s tertiary education is a waste? Are you really convinced poor, brilliant students need no financial assistance for their studies?
Please, Mr Shezi, rethink your stance on the bursaries… and while at it, please say: “I’m sorry”. You don’t necessarily need to start giving out bursaries, but making poor people feel so stupid and financially incompetent was just a miss on your part. Please say after me: “Pardon me, I erred”. I’ll be sitting on my laptop, learning the complex forex graphs that you so eloquently taught me… while I await your apologies, not to me, but to those whose financial status could not even allow them an opportunity to come meet you. By the way, in case I misquoted you, Mr Shezi, “Please pardon me, I erred” Dr Kamela L Mahlakwane is a medical
doctor and social commentator