College of Accounting Sciences

Icon editor’s legacy empowers Unisa media student


McIntosh Ngwenya is the proud winner of the 2020 Percy Qoboza bursary.

McIntosh Ngwenya, a communication science student at Unisa, who is currently doing honours in media studies, was awarded this year’s Percy Qoboza bursary at the annual memorial lecture honouring the great man.

Ngwenya says: “As a young man who lost his parents early in life and had witnessed his goals diminishing and evaporating in front of his face, I am super-excited. This bursary will be the vehicle enabling me to achieve my academic goals.” Ngwenya adds that the fact that the bursary is named after one of his role models makes the award even more joyful and inspiring.

The bursary honours Qoboza’s commitment and excellent contribution to the field of journalism towards a free and democratic South Africa. He is described as an achiever of his time in journalism who is immortalised for the timeless values that he embraced, fighting for press freedom, journalistic excellence, black readership, and equality in society till his death in 1988.

“Since introducing the annual Percy Qoboza Memorial Lecture in 2011 to commemorate Black Wednesday, when the then apartheid government banned The World, Weekend World, and other publications in 1977, the National Press Club and Unisa have used the event to award a bursary to a worthy honours media studies student,” says Professor Danie du Plessis from the Department of Communication Science in the College of Human Sciences.

“The bursary allows top students like Ngwenya the opportunity to complete and further their studies—empowering them in these difficult times to become active participants in the economy and as professionals,” continues Du Plessis. “Ngwenya was among the top 10 honours students in media studies who applied for the bursary by presenting a document answering specific questions about his vision for the media now and in future. The executive of the Press Club identified Ngwenya as the most meritorious applicant.”

It has always been Ngwenya’s dream to study at a university. Pursuing his childhood dream helped him to complete his undergrad degree without any supplementary exams. He explains: “Scoring an average of 77% in my final year was fulfilling, but to be accepted for honours in media studies was the greatest highlight of my academic journey at Unisa.”

Reflecting on his five-year student journey thus far, Ngwenya says that the experience has been phenomenal and life-transforming. “Before becoming a student, I would engage in unproductive arguments and disagree without facts,” he says. “But my years at university have equipped me to unlearn prejudices and assumptions. In the process l have grown to be a smart thinker.” In addition, Ngwenya says his academic journey has inspired him to question his own beliefs, ask forbidden questions, and rethink stereotypes.

For Ngwenya, distance learning is a daunting experience. He believes that high school doesn’t prepare one to learn in an environment detached from face-to-face learning. “I figured out that for me to survive in distance learning and produce good grades, l must be self-disciplined, determined, and committed. Distance learning is a lonesome journey characterised by late nights, early mornings, and a tight schedule of assignments.”

One awesome transferrable skill Ngwenya learnt through his studies was to run a successful communication campaign project. “I applied the knowledge gained at university to plan the 2019 Global Youth Day celebration with our adopted orphanage, and it was a success. This knowledge gained me respect as a youth leader at my church.”

The bursary honour notwithstanding, Ngwenya’s feet remain firmly on the ground. “As a communication science graduate who is yet to break through in the journalism industry, this year l was looking forward to starting a blog and a YouTube channel to address different topics from political injustices to social upheavals, economic meltdown, and other life issues. Unfortunately, Covid-19 happened, but soon l will breathe life into that vision,” concludes Ngwenya.

*By Lesego Ravhudzulo, Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2020/10/27