Disability never limited Eric Calzade Mukhari from Joppie Village

Eric Calzade Mukhari, born and bred in the dusty streets of Joppie Village outside Tzaneen in Limpopo, he completed his matric in the late 90s at Gwambeni High School (Xihoko Village).

His parents took him to a special school in his early years, but Calzade refused to attend classes. “I stayed there for only one day – I could not stay in that situation,” he says.

“They took me to the normal public school eventually. Other kids laughed at me, but I developed high self-esteem which keeps me going to this day. I never allowed my disability to limit me. I can do anything because I am able.”

Eric Calzade Mukhari, a Unisa Bachelor of Laws (LLB) graduate, recently walked out of the ZK Matthews Great Hall with a certificate following years of being a university dropout. Mr Mukhari is a student living with disability who never allowed any obstacle to limit his dreams.

Disability never limited Eric Calzade Mukhari from Joppie Village

“Ultimately,” he continues, “I got a job from one of the big banks. That excitement carried me away to an extent that I could not complete my BCom Accounting degree with the University of Limpopo. Through the experience I gained, I worked for a couple of companies and later I lost interest in the field. I chose to study with Unisa part time because it is one of the oldest credible universities on the African continent.”

Graduating at the age of 42, Calzade says: “After much introspection I decided to get a formal education because the chances of climbing the corporate ladder are slim, especially at my age.” He enrolled with Unisa at the age of 37 in 2017.

“I can proudly attest that age is not a limit,” he continues.

“It took five years to complete the four-years LLB degree.” Mr Mukhari also registered with the university’s Advocacy and Resource Centre for Students with Disabilities (ARCSWiD).

Acknowledging Unisa’s assistance in completing his degree, Mr Mukhari says ARCSWiD helped him immensely. “Without that support my journey could have been strenuous,” he adds.

“The centre aided me with assistive devices, funding through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), career support and counselling.”

Disability never limited Eric Calzade Mukhari from Joppie Village 1

Overcoming obstacles

Mr Mukhari attests to the obstacles Covid-19 pandemic brought to students living with disabilities in distance education.

“We were compelled to move from a venue-based to an online-based examination,” he says.

“That came with many challenges, ranging from poor connectivity to the uploading of exam scripts. Juggling work and studies was also a challenge. However, I aligned myself appropriately and cut off unnecessary things which consumed my study time. In addition, I boosted my self-esteem as a physically challenged student. I couldn’t allow my disability to be an obstacle.”

Currently the qualification assists Mr Mukhari in his employment as a candidate attorney at Nkonwani Attorneys. He now sees professional hazards and the importance of ethical behaviour. Most importantly, Mr Mukhari learned time management, discipline, humility, Ubuntu, professional behaviour, perseverance, and being attentive to details.

The future and advice to fellow students

Mukhari plans to continue studying until the age of 50. He wants to be a respected and highly rated legal practitioner.

“One legal guru who inspired me is Advocate Kemp J Kemp,” he says.

“Every time I saw him in and out of court while disabled, I realised that if he can do it, so can I.”

Mukhari advises fellow students to never allow obstacles to limit them from reaching their goals.

Disability never limited Eric Calzade Mukhari from Joppie Village 2

“Such obstacles could be finances, age, disability, substance abuse, race or ethnicity, amongst others,” he says.

“Strive to align yourself to your goals, and you will find that nothing is undoable.”

In conclusion, Mukhari reflects on his life experiences. “A negative attitude and mindset are the main reasons why many students drop out,” he says.

“I excelled in Mathematics and during my BCom studies I hated Auditing because it was purely theory. Later on, I fell in love with the legal profession. 95% of LLB is theory and I had switch off the negative attitude and mindset. I told myself that if others did it, why not me. Today I am a proud Unisa alumnus.”

Source: UNISA
*By Lesego Ravhudzulo, Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Leave a Reply