Ruth First Scholar (2005-06)
Mzwanele Tola is from Colesberg, in the Northern Cape province of the Republic of South Africa. He graduated from the University of Fort Hare in 1999 with a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics and an Honours degree in Rural Development. He worked for the National Department of Agriculture in Kimberly, in farmer resettlement and rural development.
At Durham, Mzwanele took an MA in Community Studies and Youth Work, including placements in Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne.
Mzwanele wrote the following after his first month in Durham:
Personally, I consider myself blessed to have been given this opportunity. Stacks of thanks to those who organise the Scholarship and to Ruth First herself, who is in our memory and still a comrade. I am also pleased to receive the world-class tuition provided by Durham University, which has recently been voted University of the Year in the United Kingdom. The capacity that I will receive is going to be profoundly enjoyed personally and will greatly benefit the nation of Africa, in particular South Africa.
The MA I am doing now is very interesting in terms of exploring how youth and community can be of use in nation-building, in the second phase of our nation’s freedom. Agriculture is a sector in partnership with government that is manifested to be operating with high levels of youth apathy towards economic activities and value-adding chain in agriculture. There is a radical need to bridge that gap if our vision is to create a united and prosperous agricultural sector in South Africa.
I hope that the programme in Youth and Community Development is going to enhance my skills in youth and community management, research, society and psychological understanding, and policy analysis and development. My main focus will be on policy development and analysis in relation to youth fraternity, as well as the development of youth organisations.
We should bear in mind and recognise the important role played by youth in the struggle to free the South African nation against the apartheid regime of the past. As President Nelson Mandela declared in May 1994, “youth are the valued possession of the nation. Without them there can be no future. Their needs are immense and urgent. They are the centre of reconstruction and development.”
On completion of his studies in Durham, Mzwanele returned to his post at the Department of Agriculture. In 2008, he moved to a new post as District Manager for the Northern Cape provincial Department of Agriculture and Land Reform, based in the Pixley ka Seme District. He then became District Manager (Central Karoo) for the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, and later Deputy Director for Rural Enterprise & Industrial Development (Gauteng) in the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform
His e-mail address is: [email protected]