2022 SITFE Graduation Function
7 July 2022

Cedric Mboyisa

Cedric Mboyisa
The Sugar Industry Trust Fund for Education (SITFE), which is administered by the South African Sugar Association (SASA), held a graduation ceremony on 1 July 2022 for its beneficiaries who recently completed their studies at various tertiary institutions across South Africa.

“Today marks the culmination of a journey which saw you leave your respective homes to enter gates of institutions of higher learning and here you are returning triumphantly with your degrees and diplomas which nobody or anything can take away from you! The future looks very bright for you,” said SITFE Chairperson Nkonzo Mhlongo. She added: “Today, we gathered here to pay tribute to you and salute you for this phenomenal achievement. Greatness beckons you. You are game-changers and pioneers of your different families and communities. You will do down in history as one of the greatest of your generation who secured a better future for their families, children, children’s children and generations to come. You are the absolute embodiment of hard work, commitment, dedication and undying spirit to succeed.”

The graduation ceremony was attended by graduates, some SITFE alumni, this year’s SITFE beneficiaries, parents, SITFE Trustees (led by Chairperson Nkonzo Mhlongo), SASA Vice-Chairperson Joanmariae Fubbs, SASA Management, invited guests (both from cane growing and milling sectors) and keynote speaker Gugu Moloi. University of Cape Town graduate (Bachelor of Business Science: Analytics) Sphesihle Cele delivered a moving speech which narrated his varsity journey which included dealing with heartbreak of losing his beloved mom and enduring the personal emotional pain on his way to successfully completing his degree course. “I was born and raised in Durban by a single mother, with the help of my aunts and my grandmother. I had always told myself that I am working hard so I can give my mother the life that she deserved for raising me, however, losing her in the process was one of the hardest things I had to deal with. Life had to move on though, so I dusted myself off and I kept pushing myself to keep working towards my goal. I think the most important thing through all of it is remembering that on the other side of the hard times, there is light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

Cele’s advice to this year’s SITFE recipients: “Your goals are waiting for you to get them and you just must work one day at a time. Do not compare yourself to others, your journey is unique, and you need to embrace that. Patience is key, 4 years/3 years of university might seem like a lot, but when you take it one day at a time, time flies faster than you can imagine. Do not neglect your studies and convince yourself that you will study hard during exam period, often that plan never works. Work hard from day one, be efficient and smart with your studying. This takes away so much pressure from you. If you have friends, form a study group and work with people who share the same goal as you.” He paid tribute to his late mom, dedicating his degree to her, “Mama, this is for you… I know you smiling from heaven. The love I have for you is eternal and transcends death. I know you are always by my side, my Angel. I shall always keep you in my heart. I will always preserve your legacy. Thank you for everything and all the sacrifices you made for me to get where I am today. I am because you were.”

SITFE alumni Thabo Sedi encouraged graduates and current SITFE beneficiaries to be passionate about what they do. Sedi now owns his own farm and has sponsored seven students to pursue their academic endeavours at institutions of higher learning. Gugu Moloi, founder and managing director of Iman’ Africa Investiment Academy and Bethel Farm, delivered a powerful keynote address. Moloi, former CEO of Umgeni Water, made a clarion call to graduates to be bold enough to pursue other career opportunities other than the certificates they have. She further urged graduates to remain true to themselves, “Run your own race and stay in your lane. You are not competing against anyone except yourself. Be very clear about who you are.”

Giving a vote of thanks, Trustee Dieter Lutge, called on graduates to heed the late liberation struggle icon Nelson Mandela’s words when he said, “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world”. He added: “I say unto you, go out there and change the world around you using education as your weapon of choice. Wishing you all unmitigated success henceforth.”