‘My father was murdered. My house was burnt down. I just want to study.’ – The tale of a top achieving student


Words | Thomas Maree

Life has not been easy for young Ebenezer Odei. When he was eight-years-old his home was burnt down in Khayelitsha during a violent outbreak of xenophobic attacks in 2008. Cape Town was not a safe place for the South African born Ghanaian whose family had to flee to the remote farming town of Vryburg in the North-West Province, which was an 18-hour trip by car.

Six years later in 2014, Odei’s father was murdered on the evening of his birthday. He was the main breadwinner of the family and ran his own business working as an architect. His death devastated the family, and Odei was uncertain about his future or whether he could remain in South Africa.

Sturdily built and softly spoken, Odei worked incredibly hard through the pain and financial struggle and achieved five distinctions out of his eight subjects. His dream is to study further and become a chartered accountant, and although he qualifies for numerous bursaries, Odei cannot get funding because of documentation issues.

“I want to carry on my father’s legacy and start my own business so I can support my family, but without a South African ID, I can’t get funding to study. I’ve been through over 20 applications and all require an ID,” said Odei.

A Helping Hand

A Cape Town based international money transfer company called Mama Money has already paid half of Odei’s tuition fees as he’s been accepted to study a Business Commerce degree at the University of Cape Town.

Odei still needs R30,000 for the remainder of his tuition, and a crowdfunding campaign has been launched to help him raise the money. This amount covers only the tuition fees, and Odei still worries about how he’ll afford the expensive textbooks, let alone accommodation nearby the university.

Odei and his mother, Elizabeth, now stay in Khayelitsha again and share a small room. The rest of his family, including his siblings, have gone back to Ghana following the death of his father. Odei only knows South Africa as he was born here, and hopes that this degree will give him the tools needed to become successful, and continue his father’s legacy.

Click here to support Ebenezer’s Odei’s dream to study »

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